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Thread: Ambition - A Stateless General's AAR

  1. #21
    Hm, ThunderHawk, you seem to be one of the best new AAR-creators. This, is truly a work of art. I'd like to see Halen eventually do something Napoleon style, Empire wise.

  2. #22
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    You've left us with quite the cliffhanger. Halen's not really been able to display his genius since leaving South America, and now he's likely to be badly outnumbered by the Persians.

    Of course, they've got form in struggling against inferior forces.
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  3. #23

    Chapter 4: Small But Faithful Band


    The Second Russo-Persian War began in 1826, unexpected by all but the British. Eight years had passed since Halen's stunning reversal of fate at Cancha Rayada. Yet, in all the time that had slid by, Halen's spark had never faded. If anything, it had grown brighter as he became more accustomed to command, but his brilliance had no outlet. Europe had been at relative peace and the few tribal upstarts in Georgia, though fierce, posed no serious challenge to Russian authority in the region. I knew that this had lulled many of our comrades into softness and complacency, but not Halen. He knew that the post-Napoleonic order in Europe was fragile and deteriorating and would soon collapse altogether. None of us expected the Persian invasion, but as Halen said, to command is prepare for the unexpected.

    The Persians had picked an opportune time to attack, perhaps deliberately. General Aleksey Yermolov, who had hired us some seven years ago, had been recalled by Czar Nicholas immediately following the Decembrist revolt (when word had spread that he had supported the rebels). It was to be the end of Yermolov's distinguished career. His replacement, Ivan Paskevich, had not yet arrived.

    The entire Russian garrison in the Caucuses was about 6,000 men, including the 3,000 hired guns of the combined mercenary units, softened by long years of inaction in the southern mountains. Worse still, the recall of General Yermolov and his colonels left the Russians without a clear leader. When word reached Ganja of the Persian invasion, Halen immediately canceled our plans for departure and sent runners to all the necessary Captains, informing them that he had assumed command of the Army of Georgia. None of them argued or even grumbled. They had all met Halen.

    Next, he summoned all Russian troops in the area to Ganja, Azerbaijan, and dispatched reconnaissance teams to the southeast to determine the Persian's numbers. When all reports were in a few days later, we determined that the invading army had broken into two equal sized-forces of twenty thousand each, one marching through Talysh and the other through Karabakh. The local rulers had already surrendered; the eastern cities of Lenkoran, Quba, Baku were under the Shah's control and we could not expect reinforcements from any of the Azerbaijani Khans nominally under Russian rule.

    Both forces were now heading towards Ganja, one advancing from the north and the other from the south, intending to catch the city in the pincer. If it fell, Azerbaijan would belong to the Persians. I knew that the Czar would not allow the occupation to stand and could bring the great might of Russia to bear against the Persia, but dislodging the Shah's forces from the mountains in the future could prove difficult.

    All this was discussed in our boardroom as we debated whether we should withdraw to Georgia and wait for the reinforcements. Halen decided for us. He decided that we should stay in Ganja and defend the city, and he summoned all Russian forces in the Caucuses to join in the defense. By the end of July, there were 6,000 men all told in the city to face a force of some 40,000 Persians.

    I don't know what it was that compelled us to hold against the advancing Persians rather than break and run. We had several advantages, we knew: the defender's advantage, as well as then-modern muzzle-loaded rifles compared to the Persians' antique muskets. We also knew that large as it was, the Persian force had no artillery and we would not be bombarded. More than anything, though, we had Halen. He saddled Reu and rode up and down the lines in the city, encouraging and directing the defenders, speaking with the officers and the sergeants. His presence was everywhere, and with him as our leader we felt fearless.

    When the eve of the attack arrived, we had fortified the city extremely heavily. Every roadway was blocked and spikes hammered in against the cavalry. Halen had ordered the streets rendered near impassible by the army and every building of any height in the city garrisoned. We ourselves relocated the center of command from the garrison to the Ganja church. From the steeple we could see the entire battlefield, including both forces advancing from the north and the south to catch us in a deadly pincer.

    As I looked out on this sea of men, I realized that we did not have enough ammunition to destroy the enemy force assembled before us. When I told Halen so, he merely replied that this was of no consequence as long as we knew it but the enemy did not. The Persians advanced against us in step and finally reached range at noon on the 31st of July. Halen ordered me to hoist a red flag over the church, ordering the marksmen stationed in the towers across the city to begin shooting; our weapons were of longer range than the Persians', and under Halen's orders our marksmen began to pick off Persian officers.

    Only a handful of shots had been fired when the Persians began to surge toward us, fanning out and charging in from all sides as we had predicted. The cavalry charged first and charged towards the barriers and I raised the green flag at Halen's command: the infantrymen began to shoot from their perches as the horsemen charged in. Many met their death against our barricades: we had ordered them covered in cloth and blankets, and most of the cavalry did not see the wicked spikes the fabric hid until it was too late. The slower advancing infantry were moved down file after file by our infantrymen, and the soon the towers and buildings we had fortified were thick with smoke.

    When the infantry began to clamber over our barricades, we kept the pressure against them. Overlapping fire from the outlying shooters picked them off as they climbed and few made it over, scarcely a man making it into the streets that we had so heavily littered with debris. Those that did died there - the blockades in the streets concealed hunting caltrops, footspikes, and pitfalls that we had endeavored to build earlier.

    To his credit, Abbas Mirza, the Persian General, ordered a general retreat that afternoon. The attacked ceased and the Persians scampered away, back into the countryside around Ganja. Halen said that they had not initiated a siege or fled, but merely wished to regroup as Mirza planned his next move. Our Persian counter-parts might have believed at the time that the next move was theirs, but this was not the case. Halen began to issue orders the moment the Persians disappeared beyond our line of sight, and prepared for what was to be one of the boldest moves of his career.

    By most estimates, the first day had left more than three thousand of the Shah's men dead, at the cost of only two dozen of our own. The Persians returned the next day with their cavalry regenerated. They did not, as I had feared, bring a bombard or a cannon but instead brought freshly made ramps, towed behind their horses or born by several soldiers. I recognized immediately that these planks were in effect a siege weapon - crudely and quickly made to let them scramble over our defenses.

    The attack did not come, though, until the night of the first of August. I fancy Mirza believed that Halen's marksmen would not be as effective in the dark; Halen let him believe this. When the attack came, forty thousand Persians rushed towards us but in silence, only the dim light of a sliver of the moon to reveal them to us. They hauled their ramps over our barricades and scrambled over them into the city - many were injured by our traps and the others found second barricades and more in the now all-but impassable streets.

    When the Persians had flood into the city and moved to surround our troops' buildings, Halen ordered me to raise the green flag, lit in the dark by the church-tower's light.

    Instantly, our troops released the dogs. For more than a week, we had rounded up every hound and mutt that we could find in Azerbaijan and grouped them into Ganja, in cages throughout the city. Many were strays or hungry or starving. We released them all on Halen's command and they flooded through the streets like an army all their own -- loud, but invisible in the dark. They were not trained warhounds and were not necessarily killers, but the Persians believed they were. By the starlight, I could see a panic ripple along the Persian lines and I immediately knew that Halen's plan had worked as the dogs, rebounded off our sealed buildings like a living wave and charging into the Persian ranks -- between legs, around bodies, and more.

    As it seemed the Persians were about to turn tail and run, or else Mirza might sound another retreat, Halen ordered me to raise the red flag. The instant I did, a hundred fuses were lit all around the city. Seconds later, dozens of gunpowder charges went off and the barricades, the innards of which we had doused in oil, exploded into bright flame. Our infantry began shooting heavily from their perches as the Persians retreated into a burning wall - vicious dogs behind them, the fire and fury in front of them. Their ramps had been either blasted away or were alight themselves, and even the boldest man did not dare climb the wall. The horses and the cavalry that had made it into the city seemed to go berserk, bucking their riders (many of whom were officers) and charging away into the night. The Persian infantry, who now could not escape, were mowed down with ease - many threw down their weapons and begged to surrender.

    As he looked out upon the chaos he had conjured, Halen said something to me I will never forget.

    "At Cancha Rayada, you saw me make a mob into army. Now you have seen me make an army into a mob."

    On the morning of the second, the field was decisively ours, and the streets of Ganja were crowded with the dead. Halen's tactic had nearly burned down the city, and some of the fires did not go out for days, but he had chosen our fortified buildings to be those of stone and away from the flames, such that no man of ours died from fire or smoke.

    All counted, more than 8,000 Persians died at Ganga, and a staggering 20,000 surrendered to us in those streets, more than we could reasonably hope to imprison. Halen ordered most shipped to Georgia or Russia proper, to be incarcerated or contained until later. We estimate an additional 7,000 did not surrender but fled the conflagration and never returned to Mirza's army, leaving the Persian general with just 5,000 troops when a week earlier he had eight times the number. His total commitment to an assault against Halen proved his undoing.

    Halen ordered us to give chase and we did, but Mirza eluded us (we were on foot and most of his men on horseback) with no further confrontations. In September, three regiments' reinforcements arrived with Ivan Paskevich, the Czar's lapdog and Yermolov's replacement. He, with the greatest hubris, revoked Halen's command of all but the mercenary regiments and pursued the fleeing army into Persia, where we would campaign under Paskevich's inept leadership for a year and a half - until February 1828 - at which time the Czar and the Shah finally agreed to a peace treaty. Though Halen had all but single-handly saved Azerbaijan from Persian rule, Paskevich refused to ever pay him more than his original salary. We left Russian command in the spring of 1828, now with more than three hundred men under Halen's aegis.

    We departed for Europe thereafter, marching to Croatia and from there sailing to Portugal, where we would play some small part in King Pedro IV's triumph over Miguel in the War of Two Brothers. As for Ganga, tremendous damage was done to the city by the fires but it was rebuilt and few of the local civilians were killed, and the city still has a problem with strays to this day. Despite this, I am told Halen is remembered fondly.

    Many believe that Russia's triumph against Persia was inevitable and the world payed little attention to the stunning victory that Halen had won at Ganja. Only the British, it seemed, took notice, because unbeknowst to us at the time, it was Great Britain who had induced the Shah to attack Russia as part of the Great Game. It was the second time Halen had crossed the British. It would not be the last.


    -------------------
    Historical notes:
    Ivan Paskevich's portrayal in this work is d'Blanc's own bias, not historical fact. In the real Russo-Persian War, it was Paskevich who with only 8,000 men defeated Mirza and routed the Persian army, albeit not at Ganja. Yermolov did historically support the Decembrists but was not recalled until after the Russo-Persian War; this account alters history by having him pulled from the front slightly sooner.

    I will likely not be able to update tomorrow, as the election in Shadow of the Andes will end and I've got to tend to that.
    Last edited by ThunderHawk3; 07-10-2011 at 17:00.
    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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  4. #24
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThunderHawk3 View Post
    [FONT="Times New Roman"]Halen ordered me to hoist a red flag over the church, ordering the marksmen stationed in the towers across the city to begin shooting; our weapons were of longer range than the Persians', and under Halen's orders our marksmen began to pick off Persian officers.
    I say old boy, targeting officers is hardly sporting.

    I liked the focus on pyschological aspects of the battle - the limited amount of ammunition only being a major problem if the enemy knew of it, and the fear caused by the dogs being out of all proportion to the actual threat they presented.
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  5. #25
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    Very good writing. I'm impressed.
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  6. #26
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    this is a real delight and contrast to most other V2 AARs - like the way you are sticking to a character POV and from that the focus on what is going on within the battle
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  7. #27

    Chapter 5: Revolution


    In the years that followed Halen's victory at Ganja, I was often asked why we had left the Russian's service at the outlet of the Russo-Ottoman War of 1828. The truth is that despite Halen's incredible genius, the Czar had not seen us necessary or perhaps even possible Decembrist sympathizers. Russia refused to hire us in her war against the Turks, and perhaps rightfully so. She did not need us, as history will aptly demonstrate. Of course, the Sublime Porte wished nothing to do with us after our campaign in Greece - the Sultan had his own generals. Thus, we were forced to watch from the sidelines as one of the largest wars of the 1820s proceeded in front of our very noses, and with mild disappointment depart for Portugal.

    Portugal, at the time, was the site of the only other war in or near Europe: a succession dispute between two royal brothers, Dom Pedro and Dom Miguel. These battles were perversely called the "Liberal Wars" by many; I prefer to remember it as the War Between Two Brothers. The dispute had started over Brazil, but degenerated into a constitutional crisis and armed conflict. Halen told us when we left Croatia that he had decided to back Dom Pedro. We accepted his word without question, but I have often wondered why. Pedro was the more liberal of the two, but Halen was never a political creature. Each had roughly equal ability to pay mercenaries in his service and the balance of power between the pair had been unclear. Perhaps my friend had even chosen at random. I never mustered the courage to ask him.

    We spent nearly six years in Portugal under the command of Dom Pedro, who never treated us as much more than common mercenaries. I consider these to be all but lost years; Halen's genius never had a chance to glow as he never commanded the limited Portuguese armies. His most notable achievement during the period was the successful defense of Porto during the eighteen month siege from 1832-1833, when he became a sort of de facto commander of the defense after Pedro fled the country. The city never fell and still holds the name "Cidade Invicta", or the Unvanquished City, owing to its iron will to resist Dom Miguel's occupation. Despite this, I cannot help but imagine what wonders Halen had accomplished in those six long years had we not been tied down in Portugal.

    The War Between Two Brothers was unusual because it was one of the very few times when Halen and the British Empire would fight on the same side, albeit this was by no design of Halen's. Porto was heavily able to hold out against Miguel because it was resupplied by sea and it was resupplied by sea because the Royal Navy kept the trade channels open. The British would also sponsor Pedro's 1832 expedition which, after four years on the defensive, turned the momentum of the campaign in his favor and eventually won the war. Again, we had little role in these battles, and our few exploits and too mundane to be worth recounting. We looked for any out we could find -- Halen in particular was keen on the Belgian revolution in 1831, but neither it nor any other little war lasted long enough to grab Halen's interest.

    In fact, when I think back to that entire period of my life, I only recall one incident with any clarity. It was 1832 or perhaps 1833 in Porto, and Halen and I had gone to seek lodgings for our men, our previous accommodations having been appropriated by another unit. We came across a tavern and lodge, and when we entered, I remember that a single very drunken English sailor was slumped over the table and separated from his chums. He was singing to himself in slow, slurred words:

    "When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte, as any child can tell..."

    My patience and reserve had long been tested by the siege, and hear this pushed me to my breaking point. Looking at him and his detestable appearance and to hear him speak of the Emperor in such a way was unbearable to me. I advanced no more than a step when I felt the unexpected weight of Halen's hand on my shoulder.

    "You can start any battle you like," he said coolly. "The essence of command choosing."

    I did not at that moment understand what Halen had told me, and I protested that I could not allow this cravenly drunk to remember Emperor Napoleon is such a disrespectful way.

    To this Halen replied, "How can he remember a man he has never met?"

    From then on, the very occasional slights against the Emperor's name and memory no longer bothered me. Whenever my temper boiled, I always remembered my brief conversation with Napoleon on Saint Helena's island. I chose to remember him as a hero.

    The First Carlist Rebellion broke out in 1833 and I begged Halen to move from Portugal to Spain in the hopes of a more interesting contest of arms. Halen replied that he would depart for Spain at once if he didn't believe he would hanged the moment he got there for his actions at Cancha Rayada. Nevertheless, the War Between Two Brothers would expand to include Spain in its own course, and we did in fact cross the Spanish border many times to support the Spanish authorities or drive back the rogue Duke Carlos' men. When the war in Portugal ended in 1834, we moved to Spain for about a year and half, remaining in Duke Pedro's service in support of Queen Isabella. We would not stay to see the end of the war.

    I think Halen knew that old order, instated after Napoleon, would break down. It was only a matter of time. In 1836, the balance of power came crashing down around the would-be kings and emperors of Europe, and in the space of the next few years Halen would ensure that his name would never be forgotten.


    -------------------
    Historical notes:
    "When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte..." is a line from Gilbert & Sullivan and would not have been written for another fifty years.
    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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  8. #28
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    Wow, I am tottally drawn in by this. The characters, the style of the AAR, this is great. I can't wait to see if Halen will stand up for my home country, Denmark, in ther inevitable war with Prussia and/or Austria.
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  9. #29

    Chapter 6: Denmark


    Our fight against the Carlists in Spain came to an end in 1836, with the outbreak of the first true war between nations in Europe since my good Emperor left for his second exile. On January 21, King Frederick William III of Prussia ordered the invasion of Denmark, intent on freeing the provinces of Holstein from Danish rule and the capture of Danish Schleswig-Holstein for Prussia. The declaration of war came only a month after King Frederick VI of Denmark ordered two-thirds of the Danish army to stand down, cutting the size of the Danish armed forces from 30,000 to just 9,000 infantry and cavalry.

    Within days, 80,000 Prussia soldiers stormed into Holstein almost unopposed. Fearing the loss of the entire country, Frederick VI openly advertised that he was seeking mercenaries to supplement his diminished forces as the Prussians rampaged through Denmark's southern provinces unchecked. Halen, realizing that Denmark had no suitable commanding general, wrote back to the Danish King with a history of his exploits (particularly his defense of Ganja) and suggested that Denmark might appoint him head of the defense. With no other choice, Denmark reluctantly accepted our offer.

    We had been ready to go from the moment the letter was sent, and Halen and I arrived in Denmark three days later, traveling by the fastest cutter we could hire in Spain. The rest of our host would arrive a week after that. Halen was greeted with some reluctance by the Danish court -- the King visibly was displeased that he had to resort to hiring a foreigner. Nevertheless, we took immediate inventory of the situation. Prussia had sent 80,000 soldiers organized into three armies -- two occupying Kiel and Lauenburg, a third of about 20,000 men having intruded into Flensburg. Denmark had 9,000 professional soldiers all told -- two brigades of infantry and one of cavalry, and no artillery to speak of. An additional six thousand men had been conscripted in the last few days (one brigade from Odense and Copenhagen that had reported to recruiting stations in the capital, the other from continental Jylland who were mustering at Aalborg.)

    Halen inspected the 3,000 conscripts in Copenhagen on his first day in command and declared them unfit for combat at that time. Not all even had weapons, he said, ammunition was in short supply amongst the unit and discipline was totally lacking. Worse than that, we were informed the master at arms that we could expect no additional reinforcements for the next month. Denmark had no allies in the world, and the disbanded army regiments would take at least a month and a half to muster.

    King Frederick of Denmark initially told us that he expected the loss of Holstein to Prussia but he wished us to hold continental Denmark. Halen listened politely to this but largely ignored the Danish King, I think. On February 14, he ordered the Danish army to march from Copenhagen to Aabenraa, where we arrived on February 26. We camped along the provincial border, where we knew the enemy army was only five miles away. The men were apprehensive, as we were outnumbered more than two to one. This apprehension turned to fear the next day when our scouts informed us that the size of the Prussian army in Flensburg had swelled to 40,000 men with horses, guns, and cavalry - now vastly outnumbering out little band. Something about Halen kept them calm, though. I remember he walked out amongst the troops, talking to each man in turn. He never offered advice or reassurance, but some aspect of his demeanor served as both. They could feel what I had always felt in Halen, and that kept them in Aabenraa.

    Halen's choice in Aabenraa was whether to defend or attack. The attack, he said, they would not be expecting but could go enormously against us, while the defense might was the safer option but would ultimately not win the war. In the end, he decided to defend - reasoning that Prussian defenses in the region were to formidable to hope for a spectacular victory in the assault. We took up defensive positions behind a heavy stone wall in Padborg, just two miles from Flensburg, digging deep trenches behind the wall. We could see the lights of the Prussian camp at night and they ours, but we were not bombarded.

    On March 5, they finally attacked us, rushing up the road from Flensburg. Little did they know that Halen had laid a trap for them. He had instructed us to place the lights of our camp two miles further back than our actual lines and enforced the strictest light discipline, our real positions in Padborg camouflaged by the dark and the wall. The Prussian scouts were fooled by this ruse, and when our own informants reported that the Prussian army was limber and ready to move, Halen had us take our real positions a mile forward. They marched into our trap on the dawn of the 5th. We waited until they were only meters away from us, then sprung the trap, thousands of our infantry shooting over the concave wall from overlapping angles into the advancing Prussian cavalry.

    I am told that we left over a three thousand Prussians dead on the field in that first day, and their several disorderly attacks after that cost them even more dearly. Our cavalry sprung in from behind and rounded up fleeing members of the column, and all in all the battle was heavily ours. The Prussians regrouped and attack again, this time bombarding us - the battle lasted two weeks until March 20th, when we ran out of ammunition and Halen finally ordered our retreat. It was the longest battle Halen had fought in to date, but I would call it a defeat only in name. We had left 9,000 Prussians dead on the road from Flensburg and another 3,000 were captured, at a cost of 400 of our men.

    Nevertheless, we were forced to abandon Aabenraa entirely when no shot arrived there by the end of March. Prussia had instituted a blockade on Copenhagen; though they lacked the naval power to enforce it for long, their predation of our shipping routes left our army with terrible supply problems throughout the war. We were forced to withdraw to Kolding, 30 miles further north, as the Prussians occupied southern Jylland. Even without ammunition, Halen enforced discipline and organization on the army fiercely and they were in incredibly good spirits after our "defeat" - to the point that I felt they would have charged the Prussians with nothing but sticks had Halen demanded it.

    The Prussian Navy had frustrated our plans in Denmark in March, but April saw their withdrawal and the return of shot and supplies from the armories in Copenhagen, as well as shipments from abroad. They also brought reinforcements. Two brigades of soldiers (albeit somewhat unconventional and disorderly for infantry) arrived from Aarlborg and two more from Odense and Copenhagen. Half were conscripts, and one was the brigade we had inspected before, which Halen now declared fit for battle. Our numbers had swelled to 21,000 soldiers, compared to the 30,000 Prussians who now waited for us in the city of Aabenraa, 30 miles to the south. Still, without sufficient weaponry, Halen was unable to make a move. We were forced to wait through April and into May before our stores of shot, food, and other needful supplies were sufficient to proceed.

    Halen's attack on Aabenraa spoke to the order he had brought to the Danish army. On the 15th of May, Halen ordered us to March to Aabenraa, when upon we covered a distance of nearly 30 miles from Kolding to Aabenraa in a single night. When the Prussians awoke in the morning, they found their entire force surrounded and moreover, our cavalry had seized their artillery positions south of the city. The battle lasted nearly a month as we bombarded them and an attempt to relieve them from the south ended without consequence; a force of 9,000 exhausted conscripts marched into Flensburg and promptly surrendered to our scouts without so much as a fight. The entire garrison at Aabenraa, after numerous bloody breakout attempts, finally surrendered to us in June. The remainder of the year was spent hunting down their remaining holdouts all over southern Jylland.

    The Prussian blockades became more focused in 1837, and for much of the year we found ourselves paralyzed without supplies. Between the winter of 1836 and the spring of 1837, we received numerous communiques under flag of truce from the Prussian General, the appropriately named Otto Hauptmann. He repeatedly wrote that the war had come to a stalemate (he still controlled nearly 40,000 soldiers in Kiel) and that we should come to a moderate truce in the favor of Prussia. Halen rejected all these offers, in defiance of the Danish King's orders. Holstein, he said, would be free of Prussian soldiers by his hand.

    By March 1837, our numbers had swelled to 30,000 troops in liberated Schleswig and the Prussian blockade had once again failed to stop a fresh shipment of munitions to our troops on the line. It was then Halen ordered another attack. This battle was much more evenly matched, with no stunning strategies on Halen's part. No single plan on his part won the day, it was the little things he did. We surrounded Kiel on three sides and over two months fought Hauptmann. Brute tenacity that won us the victory -- without artillery to support the assault, we were left with 12,000 casualties, but the Prussian army fled south. We confronted them a second time at Lauenburg and the bulk of their forces surrendered. Hauptmann himself escaped with two cavalry brigades, who fled back into Prussia.

    In addition to our vast losses of personnel, Halen's own horse, Reu, was shot and died during the battle of Kiel. At the end of the siege, Halen wrote to King Frederick VI of Denmark, "We have won the battle but I have lost a horse." The King did not respond at the time, as the Prussians had again blockaded Copenhagen.

    The war had effectively ended by fall of 1837, though some Prussian holdouts remained until early 1838. Despite this, King William of Prussia refused to admit his defeat, occasionally sending a few brigades to challenge us in Holstein, which Halen easily dispatched. Towards the end, many were conscripts. The liberation of Holstein had also restored our supply routes through Hannover (who were not beholden to the Prussians) and the blockades became ineffective.

    In July 1838, war broke out between the Netherlands, Prussia's ally in the Low Countries, and Belgium, with the Dutch seeking to reconquer their southern neighbors. France, worrying about the balance of power in the region, scrambled to intervene -- too late, as it happened. Prussia had agreed to aid the Dutch in their fight for the Belgium (and the meager Belgian defense forces were quickly dispatched), but France's intervention towards the very end of the war caught the Prussians off-guard. William was forced to re-commit his remaining troops to the western front of this new war, meaning he could no longer afford to waste manpower against Halen in Denmark.

    A white peace was signed on New Year's Day, 1839. The largest army Halen had ever fielded was 30,000 men in Denmark, and at the loss of a little over 20,000 troops through the whole campaign, he had kill, captured, or dispersed nearly 120,000 Prussian troops, Prussia then considered one of the most powerful militaries in the world. It was his most stunning victory to that date, and from that day on Halen's name would be known to every man we met.

    King Frederick VI of Denmark was ecstatic with Halen's victory. Upon our return to Copenhagen - the first in three years - he declared Halen the Protector of Denmark and offered him, in addition a lavish sum, a white thoroughbred from his own stables to replace Reu, who we had lost at Kiel. Halen thanked the King for his generosity but said that the battlefield was no place for such a fine creature, though he accepted both the title and the sum. King Frederick VI would die later that year, but Halen's name would remain in high regard in the Danish court for decades to come.

    When I asked Halen what our new destination should be as we prepared to leave Denmark (our host now greatly expanded), he named a country I had not expected. Halen was not yet done with Prussia.



    -------------------
    Halen's Personal Information:

    Followers: ~1000 (0 brigades)
    Title and Honors: Protector of Denmark
    Notable Battles: Danish-Holstein Campaign (1836-1839)

    Well predicted, coola567.

    EDIT: I decided to remove Halen's personal wealth from the info below. I should point out that I played this campaign in-game and it took me several tries to do properly - unfortunately, I forgot to document the successful one and this narrative was based on my vague recollection only.
    Last edited by ThunderHawk3; 10-10-2011 at 19:54.
    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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  10. #30
    Sergeant coola567's Avatar
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    Well, Prussia ALWAYS declares war on Denmark within the first year, and you said that Halen would often take the side of the underdog soooo....
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  11. #31

    Chapter 7: Belgium


    The Dutch attacked Belgium in 1838, supported by their powerful allies, the Prussians. The combined force had overrun Belgium by the end of the year and by winter, the Netherlands had declared the annexation of their southern neighbor into the United Provinces. Britain, which had been nominally pushing for Belgian neutrality, made a half-hearted attempt to negotiate a peace earlier on, but the utter defeat of the Belgian army pulled the Dutch from the bargaining table. Had this been the entire story of the Dutch-Belgian War, it would not deserve mention in this work.

    Halen's campaign in Denmark changed the course of a war that we had never fought in. Prussia lost half her army to Halen at Kiel, Flensburg, and Aabenraa, and by November, she had weakened so considerably that the Netherlands could no longer rely on her protection. Thus, in the final hours before the annexation, France declared war against the Netherlands, announcing that France would ensure a free Belgium.

    The declaration brought a near immediate end to the Prussian war in Denmark as King William of Prussia directed his troops west. The White Peace that followed won Halen incredible respect in all the courts of Europe, but he had not yet concluded his campaigns against the Prussians. No sooner had we left the Danish King's service than he revealed that during our fights in Germany, he had received an invitation from the Orleanist King Louis-Philippe to travel take command of the French Third Army and participate in the liberation of Belgium.

    He accepted the command at once. At the time, France's army was vast but heavily scattered across her far-flung Empire. France's standing army in Europe consisted of 100,000 men who by February 1839 (when we arrived in France) had been separated into three armies of about 33,000 men each. The overseas armies were heavily engaged in various colonial wars (most notably the conquest of Algeria) and King Louis was loathe to recall them. Holland's standing army in Europe was a meager 45,000 men at the outset of the war, and already whittled down to some 20,000 by fighting in Belgium, we could have easily smashed them. Prussia, however, still fielded nearly 120,000 soldiers and thus we were outnumbered, and dislodging the stubborn Dutch from Belgium while defending the Rhine was proving difficult.

    Instituting conscription could have raised as many 150,000 additional soldiers for our cause, but the already unpopular King Louis-Philippe was also unwilling to press the lower classes into service, fearing rebellion. Thus, he called Halen. We arrived in Paris with Halen's personal host (now nearly 1,000 men, two-thirds Danes) to much applause and fanfare. We took command of the 3rd Army on the second of February and, after consultation with Generals Fabrian and Wallander of the 1st and 2nd armies, marched into Flanders.

    I recall one particular irregular event during this period; Halen disappeared for most of the day on the third and returned in the evening with a horse, which he had apparently purchased from some local stable. He named this stallion Hest, and he served as Halen's mount for a decade.

    We reached the city of Charleroi, southeast of Brussels on the 18th, surrounding and securing the surrender of a single occupying Dutch brigade without much of a fight, and received word that the 1st and 2nd armies had advanced with us into Tournai and Bruges to the northeast. The plan we had previously agreed on was to secure these cities before surrounding Brussels and destroy the 15,000 man Dutch garrison utterly, giving them no opportunity to retreat into Holland proper.

    We received the curious news that one Luxembourgian regiment had advanced into France on the 22nd, which most of us greeted with raucous laughter. Halen, however, took the news with alarm, ordering scouts to immediately survey the region as far east as Trier. Sure enough, they returned with the news that the Prussian Army of the Rhine, nearly 100,000 men, was advancing through Trier and Luxembourg and into Flanders.

    Halen dispatched couriers the moment he heard the report and the French armies in Tournai and Bruges set for our positions in Charleroi immediately, while we garrisoned the city. The army of the Rhine surrounded Charleroi on three sides on the 2nd of March, while the Luxembourgian brigade we had scoffed at attempted to move behind us to cut off our supply. We were bombarded day and night for three days before a stealth patrol, at Halen's orders, successfully spiked the guns at their positions overlooking the city. Halen ordered a breakout the day later, while the Prussian guns were still being repaired, and our own artillery (it was the first time Halen had access to artillery since Cancha Rayada, and he positioned in the city buildings, sending the advancing enemy forces into disarray) blasted a path for us to the west.

    Since Halen did not immediately order a retreat through the gap, I failed to see the point of the offensive, excepting that Fabrian's 1st Army arrived less than two hours later, and we unified the front through that gap. From there, Halen launched another attack eastwards and where we were once encircled, we had now split the Prussian force down the middle. The some ten thousand, including the Luxembourgians, caught to our south were cornered by the arrival of Wallander's 2nd Army a day later and all were captured or killed. Our battle with the main Prussian force, still nearly a hundred thousand strong to our north, lasted more than two weeks. Halen finally routed them when he boldly repositioned an artillery regiment into Namur, bombarding them from several sides and sending them retreating into Luxembourg. The victory cost us nearly 20,000 men for 30,000 of theirs.

    Halen's 3rd Army gave chase, leaving the other two French armies in our dust, as we crossed into Luxembourg and then Prussia. I remember we moved as if possessed, faster than I have ever seen an army march before or since. The pursuit lasted two months, with occasional skirmishes and retreats, but we finally cornered the Prussians at Dusseldorf in July. After two days of bombardment, the Prussian Army of the Rhine -- still 80,000 men compared our 30,000, surrendered to Halen's Third Army on the 20th of July, 1839.

    Prussia was utterly broken. In 1836, she had commanded more than a quarter of a million troops; her entire standing army was now reduced to fewer than 30,000 men, all of whom were in Berlin. Fearing the loss of western Prussia altogether, King William signed a peace treaty with France in August, bringing her out of the war. Halen marched back to Belgium. With the liberation of Flanders complete, he marched into Brussels to celebration, then straight into Amsterdam while the other two armies mopped up the remnants of the Dutch Army. With their entire country occupied, the Dutch agreed to the liberation of Belgium in the spring of 1840 and were further forced to sign the Treaty of Paris, forcing them no renounce all claims on the restored country. The Dutch army in its entirety was also forced to stand down; though the Dutch colonial army remained at about ten brigades strong, there was no Dutch army in Europe and Fabrian's 1st Army remained to enforce these conditions in Holland proper for more than five years.

    Halen was awarded the Grand Croix Legion of Honor for his victories and remained in French service until 1841, overseeing the reconstruction of the Belgian armed forces. When he was restored to the throne in 1840, King Leopold II sent Halen a personal letter of thanks and declared my friend the Liberator of Belgium.

    King William of Prussia was furious, but he was left with no recourse against Halen. I am told that when he heard of the Army of the Rhine's surrender he demanded that more troops be sent to rebuke Halen immediately; his commanders informed him that the troops he saw before his palace in Berlin were all the soldiers remaining in the Empire. They were left so weak by their defeat that William began to fear invasion by Austria or even Russia, who had long since deserted their old commitments to Prussia.

    I once heard a story that a particularly unwise adviser to the King whispered to a friend of his that "should Austria invade, perhaps we should hire Halen." The story goes that King overheard and ordered the adviser killed on the spot, though I cannot vouch for this tale's veracity. King William died later that year, and he was replaced by less warlike son, Frederick William IV.

    Meanwhile, I read an article in a paper in Paris. "There has been much talk of a North German Federation in recent years," it went, "whereby the disparate states of Germany might unite themselves under the Aegis of Prussia. Halen has shown us that there is no Prussian Aegis. There will be no North German Federation."


    -------------------
    Halen's Personal Information:
    Followers: ~3000 (1 brigade of guards)
    Title and Honors: Protector of Denmark, Liberator of Belgium, Grand Croix Legion of Honor (France)
    Notable Campaigns:
    Danish-Holstein Campaign (1836-1839)
    Belgian Campaign (1839-1840)
    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

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  12. #32
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    WOW Im spellbound by this Thank you very much for deciding to post the tale of Halen. So lets see... Argentina,Greece,Russia,Portugal/Spain,Denmark, and France? I wonder where else brilliant Halen will venture to next (My vote goes towards a Mexican adventure) Keep up the good work

  13. #33
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    Loved it. Eager to see the next adventure.
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  14. #34
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    congratulations, General Halen has won you Character Writer of the Week, enjoy your week of glory and hopefully it will bring new readers to this gem.
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  15. #35
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    Amazing. So what are Halen's stats anyway? I promise I won't tell anyone.
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  16. #36
    Sergeant coola567's Avatar
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    This just keeps getting better. It really feels like an adventure novel from the 19th century. By the way, was it a coincidence that the horse was named Hest? After all, Hest means horse in Danish.
    Nationality: Danish
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  17. #37
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    Cool AAR.
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  18. #38
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    A really unique idea, and one that I'm enthusiastically following. Subscribed!
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  19. #39

    Chapter 8: Return to Greece


    We left French service in the spring of 1841 with the thanks of the Orleanist crown and a total of three thousand men in Halen's service, our ranks swelled with French and Belgians who had been swayed by my friend's incredible skill and spirit. Our unit had operated essentially without name in the past twenty-three years - now that it had swelled to regimental size I felt that we at last needed a formal name that expressed our attachment to Halen.

    When I mentioned this to our leader, he only said that he agreed in essence but was open to suggestions. I, in all earnestness, said that this regiment should be named Halen's Own Rifles in expression of purpose, and further regiments could have different names. The usually emotionless Halen nearly laughed at this and slapped his knee with his gloves as San Martin had done so many years earlier, saying that this would be the units name. From then on, we were Halen's Own Rifles also called Halen's Rifles or sometimes HO Rifles in command notation. In my opinion, we were the finest unit in Europe, and each man was a loyalist willing to throw down his life for our general.

    Our host had also finally grown too large for us to expect impromptu quartering and basing as we had when were fewer than sixty in number. Fortunately, Halen, with his newfound influence, was able to engineer a solution. He entered into negotiation with the Swiss government to purchase a permanent army base in Geneva, from where we could base our operations in Europe. Halen claimed that Switzerland's history of neutrality made it an ideal candidate for our ultimate base of operations (as we were unlikely to ever war against them.)

    To our surprise, the Swiss Republic was enthusiastic about the proposal. In the summer of 1841, Halen signed an agreement, more like a treaty than a contract, that not only sold us the army base but granted us full extraterritorial rights within it on the condition that we should immediately come to the defense of Switzerland should she ever be invaded. We very much doubted that we should ever have to defend Switzerland, as she was protected by France and her neutrality guaranteed by all the powers of Europe, but the combination of the heavily fortified alps and Halen's genius would have made her impregnable to a million men.

    That summer, we also found a new contract in the mostly peace-stricken Europe. This contract was, moderately to Halen's chagrin, in Greece.

    Greece, though pleasant that time of year, was in dire straits militarily. They had only a single brigade standing, and amidst souring relations with the Ottoman Empire and increasing calls for the liberation of Thesselia, north of their current border with the Turks but ethnically Greek. Though they were not at war, many believed military confrontation was inevitable, and the Greeks contracted no less a man than Halen to reorganize their military.

    When we arrived in Athens in June, the Republic had only a single standing infantry brigade, though they were profession soldiers. Halen cynically commented that he could have conquered the country with nothing but his Own Rifles -- as always, he spoke nothing but the truth. For this single regiment, the Greeks had six warring generals who fought over the army's command as a matter of politics. Halen, as an outsider, could take command without disrupting the delicate balance of power between them.

    We began a quick regime of modernization of the Greek military. One of Halen's first acts was to distribute his own officers amongst the Greek army corps. Though they by in large did not speak Greek (most were French, Belgian, or Danish) and this caused initial confusion, they were trained in modern signaling and organization that the Greeks had not yet adopted. Using our contacts in the French armies, we also managed to obtain several shipments of muzzle-loading carbines to replace the antique muskets that Greece had adopted.

    Halen further asked the Greek Parliament to expand the size of the military, and by September, the Greek military had expanded from one regiment to six. To Halen’s surprise, the Parliament went so far as to enact a peacetime draft, swelling the army to eight brigades (now a quarter conscripts) and 24,000 men all told. Halen’s Own Rifles had now been divvied up into command sections amongst the new brigades; Halen confided in me that he did not trust the local officers who had been appointed by the Greek generals.

    War was declared against the Ottomans on November 28th, 1841. I will not bore you with the details of the campaign; suffice it to say that it was one of the most hectic campaigns of my life. We quickly discovered that the Turks did not plan to attack as a single unified force, as we had hoped, but instead came in drips and waves, distributing their troops over the entire country. Halen could not split our force to match theirs as internal Greek politics prevented the appointment of another General. Similarly, the Ottomans flatly refused to attack Halen, knowing of his exploits in Denmark.

    As a result, we were constantly on the offensive. Surrounding a regiment here or two brigades there, occasionally breaking into a larger battle. Scarcely a day passed when we were not either moving or fighting; on a typical day we might lose one or two hundred and the Turks a thousand. Only after six months of constant advancing and attacking was the main Ottoman force finally defeated, more than 40,000 men from themselves and their vassals, at the cost of 7,000 ours. In mid 1842, we moved to retake Ottoman-occupied Lamia. During our two month campaign to dislodge our enemies from the region, a second wave of enemy troops arrived.

    They hooked around behind us and tried to seize Athens; the city held out for long enough for us to secure Lamia before breaking the siege against the city and surrounding a 21,000 man enemy force - the predominantly Wallachian and Moldovian conscripts surrendered with a few Ottoman regulars in the mix after a three weeks of fighting. We then swept through Greece proper again, defeating a few stray disorganized regiments (most fresh Ottoman conscripts with little morale, no supplies, and improperly armed) before finally making a foray into Ottoman-held Thalassia. Halen ordered the siege of Arta in April, 1843. The city had fallen by June. A third Ottoman waved of about 20,000 men arrived in July; we had beaten them back by August.

    Following this defeat, the Sublime Porte finally sent a messenger to Halen offering the surrender of the Thalassia. The liberation of Thalassia for Greece had taken us more than two years before the stubborn Turks finally confessed defeat. It had cost Greece nearly twenty thousand lives and the Ottomans close on a hundred thousand. The victory nearly doubled the population of Greece from one million to two. Halen returned to Athens a hero; he was decorated with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer, Greece’s highest honor, in September.

    It was around this time, after the war had ended but before we left Greece, that Halen received a courier from Denmark. King Christian VIII (who had succeeded his father, Frederick VI, who had hired us in Denmark’s defense several years ago) wrote that he was worried for the safety of his nation’s claims in Holstein. It was only fear of Halen, he said, that kept Austria and Prussia at bay. While Halen had been at war in Greece, there had been rumblings from Austria about an invasion of the undefended Jylland. Strangely, King Christian did not request Halen’s military assistance; instead he asked Halen’s advice - how could they, he asked, protect Holstein in perpetuity?

    Halen was silent for roughly an hour after reading this message; I had known him long enough to know that he was considering a difficult problem. After consulting his map of Europe and various logs several times, he concocted a solution. He wrote back to King Christian saying that he might have an idea more palatable than the loss of Holstein, but it would require time - years, at least - to execute.

    As we remained in Greece to oversee the construction of the Republic’s peacetime army, the Ottoman Empire was left a laughingstock in Europe. At the same time the Sublime Porte was the fool in every joke, rumors began to circulate about the mistreatment of Christians in the Middle East, and there was a brief but furious diplomatic war between the Great Powers about who was to resolve these injustices and thusly claim the credit. Through coercion and bribery, Russia was able to unearth 18th century treaties regarding their rights in the Holy Land and thusly allowed Czar Nicholas I to declare himself Defender of Christendom in November, 1843.

    The Papacy issued its decrial of Russia on November 20th. On November 21st, Austria declared war against Russia, joined by the South German Confederation. On the 22nd, Spain and the Ottomans joined Austria, and on 24th France entered the Coalition. Each fielded the more than half a million men and these two forces, the largest seen since Napoleon left for St. Helena, collided in the Ukraine. The Crimean War had begun.

    Later, Halen would remark to me: “I defeated the Ottomans in October. In November, the world was at war.”


    -------------------
    Halen's Personal Information:
    Followers: ~4000 (1 brigade of guards)
    Title and Honors: Protector of Denmark, Liberator of Belgium, Grand Croix Legion of Honor (France), Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece)
    Notable Campaigns:
    Danish-Holstein Campaign (1836-1839)
    Belgian Campaign (1839-1840)
    Greek Campaign (1841-1843)
    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

  20. #40
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    I'm a little surprised the Greeks could support a war effort of that magnitude. Much less surprised that Halen brought them victory.

    Whose side will he take in this new war?
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