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Thread: Ambition - A Stateless General's AAR

  1. #41

    Chapter 9: The Last Crusade


    I was raised a catholic, but I think I lost my faith on the battlefield. Halen never prayed. He relied on himself and himself alone to win his victories. The same is not true of the rest of the world. Europe chafed when the Czar declared himself Defender of Christendom, and only a few days later all of Catholic Christendom had risen against him, intent on storming into Russia to force him to renounce the title. One of the largest wars of the century had erupted. This war was fought not over territories or dominions (not in any real sense, to be sure) but over a title - over religion - over nothing but belief, at least on its face. The press called it the Crimean War. Halen called it the Last Crusade.

    In reality, I think it was a show of force. The balance of pow er in the word was disrupted by the fall of the Ottoman Empire from the ranks of the so-called Great Powers; only terrible conflict could establish a new one. The nations of the west sought to curb Russia’s expansion of influence in Turkey. This, more than religion, was why the Last Crusade was fought. To my astonishment, Halen welcomed the war (though he fell short of outright celebration). When I asked why, he said he finally had a solution. When I asked what it was he had a solution to, he said nothing.

    At Halen’s command, our company left Greece for Sweden, of all places. This action puzzled me. Though most of the countries of Europe fought against Russia (including Prussia and the North German states, following their declaration of war in January 1844), Sweden was one of the very few that was neutral, and we were essentially uninvited. Nonetheless, we enlisted a small transport fleet and departed Greece in December; we arrived in Stockholm several weeks later.

    Halen sought an audience with King Karl XIV Johan, who was unfortunately deathly ill. We were forced to wait until 8 March, when the old king finally passed away and his son, Oscar I, ascended to the throne of Sweden and Norway. Halen received his audience with Oscar almost immediately after the coronation.

    I finally began to see Halen’s plan when I accompanied him into Stockholm Palace to meet the King. Halen had a bold proposal for Oscar: Sweden, nominally bound to Russia by economic treaties but not alliance, should break its treaties with Russia. Oscar did so, claiming that they had been the personal commitments of his father and did not hold under his new administration. When the response came back a week later that the Czar had done nothing; Halen’s plan grew bolder still.

    My friend said that Sweden should declare war against Russia for the reclamation of the lost provinces of Finland, once Swedish by historical claims. Halen admitted that even under his illustrious leadership Sweden would not stand a chance against Russia (Sweden-Norway’s some 60,000 soldiers, when mobilized, to contend against Russia’s 400,000), but he further claimed that this was an opportunity without parallel. Russia’s armies were called away, engaged by a coalition of a half-dozen angry Great Powers, and Finland was theirs for the taking.

    King Oscar took some convincing, but Halen’s record won him out in the end. He ordered conscription enacted to supplement Sweden’s standing forces as Halen successfully requisitioned modern muzzle-loading weapons from our French contacts. Sweden declared war against Russia in May, 1844. What followed was the most bewildering military campaign of my life.

    We thundered into Finland in May, the only resistance we encountered there were a few woefully underprepared brigades of fresh conscripts which we rounded up and captured almost without firing a shot - it would not have taken a general of Halen’s skill, or indeed any skill, to do so. We spent the rest of the year in what was, in essence, the occupation of Finland and we encountered no resistance whatsoever - the Russians seemed to have deserted the region. Though the winter was decidedly harsh, the Swedish troops were prepared for it and it alone could not stop us. Halen ordered us further south, beyond the Finish borders at the dawn on 1845 and still we encountered no soldiers of the Russian army. The only soldiers we met were French sailors who manned the blockade along the Finnish and Balkan coasts. Their marines occasionally came ashore and delivered news of the rest of the war to us.

    In April, Halen had grown so bold that he ordered about half the Swedish army to march to St. Petersburg under his command; he left the remainder of our forces in Finland. We reached St. Petersburg in May to my utter astonishment, there was no Russian garrison to meet us. We marched into the city unopposed. Halen dispatched various regiments to parts of the city, proceeding at the head of HO Rifles to the Czar’s Winter Palace.

    There were about a hundred or so guards standing before the palace, neatly in a line. Halen approached the line with the entire brigade of his rifles - there was a brief standoff before the commander of the guard agreed to have his men stand down. I gathered that these were not the Czar’s regular guardsmen, who I doubted would have surrendered to us so easily. Halen entered the palace with myself and a contingent from the army - we searched the vast building in pairs.

    We found the Czar in what seemed to be a state room (though in fairness, all rooms in the building appeared to be staterooms) - I was again shocked that he had not fled the city before our arrival. Halen and I entered the room, which had perhaps a few dozen of the Czar’s court and other attendants and only a pair of Russian soldiers who we had captured and disarmed. Halen ordered all of the Russians but the Czar to leave the room; his Rifles cleared them and left us alone with the Emperor of All Russians.

    Czar Nicholas I demanded to know our names and the meaning for our impudence.

    Halen simply replied, “Halen.” He then introduced me and said that we were here as representatives of the Swedish army, having captured St. Petersburg and that the Czar was now in our power as our prisoner. Nicholas refused to believe this until Halen took him to a window in a neighboring room and showed us the thousands of our soldiers who had congregated outside the Winter Palace, bearing Swedish banners.

    The Czar shook his head, asking how we had gotten to St. Petersburg; Halen replied that we had occupied Finland over the course of the last year and from there had marched to St. Petersburg; the Czar replied that he had received no reports of combat from Russian units in Finland and had thus assumed that there had been no movement on the front, suggesting that we might have stopped our advance for the winter. Halen replied that there were no Russian units in Finland, saving those few conscripts we had rounded up in the first days of the war.

    The interview was equal parts disbelief and outrage from the Czar, perhaps understandably so, but we eventually were able to convey to him that he had lost the war and was now a prisoner in his own palace. Halen insisted that the Czar immediately sign a peace treaty not only releasing the territories of Finland back to Sweden but also renouncing the title of Defender of Christendom. The Czar resisted both suggestions initially, but once Halen assured him that the title would not go to his hated enemies in Germany (who he believed had betrayed the principles of the Holy Alliance, laid down by his father), he relented and we rapidly drafted a peace treaty.

    Some said that Halen had brought the world to war when he snubbed the Ottomans in Greece; all now agreed that he had brought Europe to peace when he marched into St. Petersburg. We returned to Stockholm heroes (though we had done virtually no fighting), where King Oscar of Sweden-Norway declared Halen the liberator of Finland and named him a Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim, Sweden’s highest honor. Bizarrely, Halen was also later invited to a ceremony in Vienna where Emperor Ferdinand I awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold, an Austrian honor of tremendous gravity. I do not know to this day why Ferdinand decided to give Halen the honor. Supposedly it was for ending the war in the coalition’s favor, since Austria had borne the brunt of allied casualties, but I think it was really to curry influence with Halen, who the Emperor had correctly recognized as a powerful force in Europe.

    Halen would remain in Sweden for roughly another year, overseeing the Swedish military in name, but in practice moderating negotiations between Sweden and Denmark. Halen’s plan to ensure Danish claims in Europe came to fruition in 1846 when he suggested a union of Denmark and Sweden. Halen had consulted neither King Oscar of Sweden nor King Christian of Denmark before proposing this to both, and both were somewhat reluctant initially, but such was Halen’s influence in both kingdoms that they agreed to the proposition. Though both bloodlines were already deeply intertwined, neither family had marriageable daughters (Princess Eugenie, the only unmarried woman of either family and King Oscar’s daughter, was deemed too unwell to marry). King Christian’s only son, Frederick VII, was in fact sterile and the line in danger of ending.

    The two kings eventually arranged the existence of a dual monarchy between their two countries until the end of the Danish Oldenburg line, at which time the crown of Denmark would pass back to Sweden. The United Kingdoms of Scandavia came into being on the 23rd of November, 1846. As per their agreement, the Kingdoms existed under the dual leadership of both houses until the death of Frederick VII in 1863, at which point the monarchies were unified under Sweden. The combined forces of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Holstein could field nearly 140,000 soldiers, enough to give even Prussia pause.

    As for the title of Defender of Christendom, Halen’s treaty stipulated only that Russia should abandon it and not who should receive it. There was another internal diplomatic struggle between Prussia, Austria, and France for the title - in the end, Austria emerged as the strongest claimant but the Pope refused to grant it to the Empire. Thus, following the Crimean War, there was no Defender of Christendom.

    Unbeknownst to us, the Crimean War had diminished British influence with the Sublime Porte to nonexistent in favor of the Turks’ allies in the war, whereas previous the British had the most influential foreign power in the Ottoman Empire. They had proposed to negotiate a peace treaty and thusly regain their clout, but Halen’s upset victory ended this proposal. It was the fourth time Halen crossed the British.

    The Great Powers would retreat to their separate corners to fume over these perceived injustices until just a little over one year later, when the Springtime of Nations drove the question of titles or influence from their minds.

    -------------------
    Halen's Personal Information:
    Followers: ~6000 (1 brigade of guards, 1 brigade of artillery)
    Title and Honors: Protector of Denmark, Liberator of Belgium and Finland, Grand Croix Legion of Honor (France), Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece), Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold (Austria), Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (Scandavia)
    Notable Campaigns:
    Danish-Holstein Campaign (1836-1839)
    Belgian Campaign (1839-1840)
    Greek Campaign (1841-1843)
    Finnish Campaign (1844-1845)

    Before I forget, I didn’t know that Hest was Danish for horse, coola567. Sorry, I don’t speak Danish.

    This military campaign was one of the weirdest I’ve played in Vic2. The Russians didn’t send any troops to stop Sweden during the entire campaign.
    Last edited by ThunderHawk3; 13-10-2011 at 07:59.
    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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  2. #42
    Major brycef's Avatar
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    Great AAR! Did you play this out or are you following a script. Either way it is well written
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  3. #43
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    this remains completely engaging and plausible - it was probably the last period when individuals served a variety of nations with no particular cause or feeling that they were 'betraying' their past masters
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  4. #44
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    This is REALLY good, actually. Me gusta!
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  5. #45
    Lt. General TheExecuter's Avatar
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    Ha! A solution to Germany...a unified Scandinavia!

    Methinks that China is going to feel the wrath of the British soon...
    The Last Mission A Love Story

    There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.

  6. #46
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    Another triumph for the brilliant Halen eh? And now Springtime of Nations? I hope Halen doesnt lead troops against rioters and protesters

    It might tarnish his rep as a hero if he starts smashing rebels in the streets

  7. #47
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    Maybe he will fight FOR the rebels, I mean he's already fought two patriotic wars.
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  8. #48

    Chapter 10: Springtime


    We departed Sweden in the Winter of 1846 and returned to our base in Geneva, where we remained for the remainder of the season. Once there, I found that our company had grown to more than 6,000 men, and I once again petitioned Halen to form another regiment for our company. Halen agreed but bid me organize the new the unit into an artillery brigade rather than an infantry brigade - I instantly knew why. So often - even in a country as modern as Sweden - we found ourselves without properly artillery, with which Halen could work wonders. I immediately sent to our friends in the armories in France and Belgium and procured a set of modern cast-iron muzzle-loading guns, several hundred pieces in all ranging from small horse-towed six-pounders to monsterous 32-pounder rifles that could have sunk an ironclad.

    We did not have a contract for that winter, so we remained in Switzerland where we drilled and organized the new unit. Eventually, we decided on the name of Halen’s Own Artillery (HO Artillery in command notation, sometimes called HO Guns or HO Cannons or Halen’s artillery). As I had ordered more weapons than we strictly needed (this was for logistics reasons and for spare parts and so on), but the surplus led Halen to begin experimenting with what he called “combined arms” doctrine. Dragoons, he said, were men who moved as cavalry but fought as infantry -- by the same logic, he could envision a unit that could act as either infantry or artillery when the situation demanded it. He asked infantrymen from each section of HO Rifles to learn and drill in artillery uses and distributed some of the lighter six-pounders to each unit and began to design tactics for these hybrid units.

    It was also about this time that I broached a rather touchy subject with Halen: I told him that I believed that our units ought to have regimental colors and a flag sergeant in each to identify them on the battlefield, rather than simply carrying the flag of the nation who currently employed us. Their loyalty, I explained, was to Halen himself and not to the country we fought for. As such, Halen himself should develop a flag. My friend meditated on the subject for about a day before agreeing and bidding me develop such a flag.

    As the chief quartermaster for Halen’s forces, I had long since started purchasing clothing in bulk from a textile mill in Dijon; these were simple gray. Though men often joined Halen in whatever clothes they happened to have, their uniforms were gradually replaced by what I ordered - thus, although the army as a whole was a rainbow, the older veterans wore gray. From this I decided to give the flag a gray background, but for the details of the standard I was unsure. I wanted to avoid all national symbols and express our support in Halen, but stringing an H across the flag seemed vainglorious. At last, I decided on a design: a gray flag with a thick, white horizontal stripe running down the center, so that the flag together with its vertical borders appeared as an H.

    Halen approved this flag (though I did not tell him why I had created it), and I contracted to a local tailor to have several dozen made, which we flew from our base in Geneva and entrusted to various sergeants. I also began to standardize the uniforms, asking our soldiers to wear them. They would earn us the nickname “greycoats” in some circles, until events in the Americas some years later transfered that title to a different group.

    Queen Isabella of Spain wrote to us in the spring of 1847. Carlist agitation had resurged in her country when news of her engagement to Francis, Duke of Cádiz reached the people, and she asked Halen and his men to return to Iberia to help quash the rebellion. Halen accepted the proposal and we remained in Spain for roughly a year; there were no organized battles and the campaign was the largely uninteresting. Suffice it to say that Carlism was virtually crushed by the end of the year, though we received payment but no honors from Spain (who were still bitter about our role in the independence of South America).

    We left Spanish service in the spring of 1848. This, however, was not just any spring. It was the Spring.. Though we were always heavily engaged in battlefields across Europe, I had noticed in the preceding years an abundance of liberal ideas passing back and forth and a growth of revolutionary spirit not seen in Europe since Martin Luther nailed his theses to a church door. This newfound liberalism against the old order of kings and autarchs finally erupted in March of 1848 - and so it became the Springtime of Nations.

    The power of the revolutions were felt from London to Moscow and rocked the Great Powers of Europe to their very foundations. Spain, deeply engaged in her fight against the reactionary Carlists, hardly felt a whisper as the revolutionaries allied themselves with the government against the old ways. Iberia was one of the few places spared. In Great Britain, Jacobin armies raged across the home isles - Ireland and south England fell to the revolutionaries and nearly took London before the redcoats regained control. In France, the Orleanist monarchy met its bitter end and Louis-Napoleon, cousin to my good Emperor, took power - he would later restore the Empire. In Prussia, ragtag militias demanded a united German state, in Austria and Russia the revolutionaries demanded an end to serfdom and a free Hungary. In Ottoman Greece, the Wallachians and the Romanians rioted for independence.


    1. The Barricade on the rue Soufflot


    Halen very likely could have chosen any country he liked and been welcome there with open arms, either by the establishment or the revolutionaries, depending on which side he chose. However, destiny had other plans. It was the April of that fateful year when Halen received a letter sealed with the Papal Bull. The mother of churches urgently requested our presence in Rome. As our year-long contract with the Spanish had recently expired, we made our excuses to Queen Isabella and sailed for Rome.

    Italy was itself in terrible turmoil: tensions had flared between Piedmont and Austria over the latter’s occupation of Northern Italy, while Jacobins ran wild in Sardinia. We knew that rebellion had nearly spread further south down the penisula, but as we travelled I could only speculate to what extent.

    When we arrived, Pope Pius IX met us in the Apostolic Palace and explained why had asked us to Rome. The Holy Father told us that the traitor Giuseppe Garibaldi had returned to Italy and raised a new Republican Army, the so-called Redshirts, who even at that very moment marched through the countryside and sought to seize Rome from the Papacy. France, though a defender of the papacy, was presently in turmoil and not in a position to send reinforcements. Pope Pius asked us to defend the city against Garibaldi.

    The situation was bleak but far from hopeless. Halen had arrived with one brigade each of artillery and infantry; the Pope’s standing forces numbered only a single brigade of infantry. Together, we were 9,000 men while Garibaldi and his so-called Republican Army were 14,000. We estimated that at reasonable speed, Garibaldi was three weeks from Rome, giving us no time to call for additional reinforcements or reserves. Nevertheless, we had several advantages: they were a ragtag militia while we were a professional force, we had modern weapons and tactics while they had only what they could scavange, Rome was surrounded by strong walls, and above all else, we had Halen.

    Halen told me the moment we left the Palace that it would not do to allow the Redshirts to surround Rome and simply defend as we would then be under siege and he would not hope for reinforcements from abroad to break the encirclement. As we rode to meet the Captain of the Guard to take command of the Papal forces and unify them under our command, Halen recounted a new plan to me.

    Under Halen, I had fought worse odds than those we faced today, and indeed many such battles have gone to the defenders. However, Halen’s plan was risky and perhaps even unnecessary given the circumstances. We spent the next two weeks in a desperate flurry of construction of fortifications, not much later Garibaldi and his redshirts arrived. They circled around the city at noon, as Halen had predicted and found something they were not expecting: a gap in the Aurelian Walls, a segment apparently lost to disrepair and hastily boarded up by our work.

    We watched them retreat from atop a guard post as the scouts went; we still kept our guns silent. Then, as we had predicted, the Redshirts returned in force, their entire host charging en masse into the poorly defended breach. Halen waited for some time as they sloshed across the field, which was muddy and wet despite the spring heat, and many became slowed and entangled in the muck. It was then that Halen gave the order to fire.

    Our heavy weapons, more than a hundred artillery pieces, were already trained on that little field - concealed in various buildings and hideaways in the Walls. We opened at such close range that we used grapeshot and shredded the oncoming forces as they tried desperately to escape the muddy trap that they had so easily fallen into. Halen had ordered two weeks ago that we divert water from the aquifer into that very segment and it was practically a river. There was no escape from our guns.

    I felt almost sorry for the Redshirts as we cut their numbers down to nothing, our own guns blazing furiously against theirs. Within an hour, most of their force was dead in that muddy pocket and the field was ours. Halen ordered us to sally from the city and we chased them down, encircling them and capturing their remaining numbers the very next afternoon. Among them was a tallish man with a lengthy beard who announced the Redshirts’ surrender to us. He introduced himself as Giuseppe Garibaldi.

    The Pope had instructed us to hang Garibaldi should we find him, but Halen drew him into a back room and the two talked for some time. After an hour or so, they returned and in my presence Halen told Garibaldi that if he would swear on his honor as a gentleman that he would never threaten the Pope’s holdings in Italy again, Halen would let him go. Garibaldi was most displeased with this suggestion, returning that the decision to leave the Pope to his own devices was not truly within his power. Halen replied that this was not what he had asked - Garibaldi himself would never again threaten the Pope.

    Garibaldi asked what would happen if he refused; Halen said that he would comply with the Pope’s wishes and hang the other. Garibaldi shot back that the revolution would continue on; Halen replied it would not. They stared at each other for a time and at last Garibaldi relented and swore on his honor as a gentleman that he would never threaten the Pope or his holdings in Italy again. Halen ordered Garibaldi released immediately, and the revolutionary disappeared into the north.

    When I asked Halen why we had let him go, Halen only replied, “He has ambition.” Ambition was a special word for Halen - the very word, in fact. He had a talent for finding people with a destiny, and ambition was the word he used to describe them. Thus, we did not end Italian unification on the spot, as we might well have done, but instead returned to Rome with the news that we had found the rest of the redshirts, Garibaldi not among them.

    Even though Garibaldi escaped, the Pope was not at all displeased. We met him again in the Apostolic Palace after the battle and he bid us remain in Rome for some time to defend against future attacks. None came. In the months that followed, as both loyalists and revolutionaries lay dead and their banners trampled across Europe, the Pope became ecstatic that he had avoided the worst of the Springtime of Nations with a single letter to Halen. It was then that Halen was given the most curious award he ever received.

    The Holy Father called us to the Palace one last time in the Fall of that year after several months of inactivity and confided in Halen that he had a problem. It was essential, he said, that someone in the Catholic world should be declared Defender of Christendom, but that politics prevented him from granting it to any of his favored candidates. However, he said, the Almighty had shown him a compromise solution. The title should be vested in Halen who was in good standing with all the catholic powers of Europe (except for Prussia). Halen listened quietly and consented when the Pope had finished his explanation.

    So it was that Halen was declared Defender of Christendom in a lavish ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Pius IX. The irony of it all was that I think Halen was an atheist, but apparently no one had informed the Pope. The title supposedly granted Halen special powers under a set of treaties dating back to the Third Crusade but my friend certainly never executed them. The only tangible change was that we received an influx of new recruits and thereafter I perceived that the Catholic courts of Europe welcomed us rather more warmly, while the Protestants ignored the declaration, as Halen never had his titles announced.

    It was thirty years since Cancha Rayada when we finally left Italy but Halen seemed hardly older - if I had to guess, he was either in his late forties or early fifties. His career was long from over and so, as it turned out, was the Springtime of Nations.

    -------------------
    Halen's Personal Information:
    Followers: ~9000 (1 brigade of guards, 1 brigade of artillery, 1 brigade of dragoons)
    Title and Honors: Protector of Denmark, Liberator of Belgium and Finland, Grand Croix Legion of Honor (France), Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece), Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold (Austria), Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (Scandavia), Defender of Christendom (Papacy)
    Notable Campaigns:
    Danish-Holstein Campaign (1836-1839)
    Belgian Campaign (1839-1840)
    Greek Campaign (1841-1843)
    Finnish Campaign (1844-1845)
    Second Carlist War (1847)
    Italian Campaign (1848)

    I was sort of out of it when I wrote this chapter (I’m ill, unfortunately), though I’d planned much of it before. While I was writing it, I felt like I was writing gibberish. I hope you all can understand it.

    And Halen’s biggest role in the Springtime of Nations may be yet to come.
    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. #49
    Mayor zagoroth's Avatar
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    (Wish you helped Geribaldi, but I suppose you wanted Halen to have Defender of Christendom).

    Great Story so far by the way.
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  10. #50
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear you're ill. Very much enjoying the story so far. Is Halen planning to leave Europe at any stage?
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  11. #51
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    hope you get better soon ... as to the update it was the usual brilliant stuff - well imagined set of events and a nice compromise at the end .... I'd rather the General fought for the revolution against papal reaction but ... it does fit the overall narrative
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  12. #52

    Chapter 11: Unthinkable


    Italian patriots would never thank Halen for his defeat of Garibaldi at Rome, even though the campaign itself surely would have failed. When order was restored in France later that year, they would send an army in support of the pope that Garibaldi and his ragtag band never would have stood a chance of defeating, and had they captured Garibaldi, they might not have shown him Halen’s mercy. However, more than any other campaign, our extremely brief defense of Rome provoked questions about Halen’s identity and motivations. Who was Halen? What did he want? Why did he do what he did? I could answer none of these. I, for my part, believe that Halen neither had a conquerer’s dreams, as my good Emperor, nor was he a thrill-seeker, as his calm on the battlefield would attest. He may have had some grand design, but I prefer to believe that he knew he belonged on the battlefield. It called him and he answered.

    Halen had himself become a central point of politics in Switzerland during The Springtime of Nations. A number of the Confederacy’s independent republics, notably Fribourg, Valais, Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Uri, Zug, and Schwyz, threatened to succeed from Switzerland and form their own league, and had been since 1847. However, Halen’s agreement with Switzerland - that he would come to the Republic’s defense should it be required of him - held them back, fearing that they would not be able to defeat him militarily. When Halen was declared Defender of Christendom in 1848, the successionists (heavily catholics) were emboldened and become convinced that Halen would not intervene against them and succeeded.

    They had assumed wrong, and we returned to Geneva in the Fall to defeat the breakaway Sonderbund Confederacy when Switzerland called. The so-called Swiss Civil War proved to be short-lived as we launched a two-pronged attack on Uri and Lucerne from Bern, surrounding and isolating the remaining rebel provinces and forcing their surrender. After the fall of Fribourg in November, Valais surrendered in early December and Switzerland drafted a new constitution shortly thereafter, transitioning from a Confederacy to a federal state.

    At the dawn of 1849, Europe was still heavily in rebellion. Though the British redcoats had put down the Irish and English revolutionaries and France had nominally restored order by installing Louis-Napoleon on the throne, the continental states of east of Europe were still in turmoil. While Austria and Piedmont fought over northern Italy, Prussia struggled against its own revolutionaries. With much of the Prussian army withdrawn to defend Berlin from the struggling Jacobins, Polish and Danzig nationalists captured much of eastern Prussia. In January 1849, they jointly declared an independent Polish state with the intention of re-establishing the Polish monarchy.

    The new Polish state rapidly annexed the Republic of Krakow (which had been freed from Russian control following the Crimean Wars) and its revolutionary forces rapidly overran the unguarded Eastern Prussia, including the wholly German city of Konigsberg, which the Poles had no real claim to, but nonetheless declared them part of the new kingdom. Faced with losing more than a third of its population, Prussia declared war on Poland in March, intent on re-unifying the country. The transitional Polish government (no suitable king having yet been found) wrote desperately to Halen in Switzerland, who was then overseeing the peace following the Civil War. We marched to Breslau (through Austria) as soon as we could, and barely arrived in time to defend the city.

    Poland, mobilized, fielded 24,000 soldiers, about half of whom were in Breslau when we arrived, the other half defending northern Poland. Prussia, though still reeling from Halen’s defeat of their armies in Denmark and France ten years ago and their tremendous losses in the the Crimean War just three years prior, still had a standing army of 45,000 men, most of whom were bearing down on Breslau. Though outnumbered two-to-one, Halen erected a defense around the city and met the Prussians as they crossed the river from Kustrin - after a bloody battle, they had lost more than twenty thousand men to our eleven thousand, despite their superior training and weaponry. Halen pursued the Prussian Army and trapped them at Kolberg, where he finally obtained their surrender.

    Prussia mobilized 60,000 additional soldiers, and Halen was again forced to contend with a second wave of soldiers. After we had reinforced our numbers back to 15,000, Halen hunted through Pommern and Brandenburg and was able to capture most of the conscripts in Eastern Prussia within a month, preventing them from joining with the main force. Those that remain congregated in Madgeburg and Brandenburg around Berlin - Halen quickly dislodged the Prussians from Brandenburg and chased them down near Stendal, where we captured the last of the Prussian forces in the east. From there, we marched to Berlin.

    The siege of heavily fortified Berlin would last nearly five months, even Halen’s genius doing little to clear the city of the stalwart German defenders. King Frederick-William IV, like his father, chafed at the idea that Halen would ever defeat him, and had refused to flee Berlin. He often sent messages out to us under flag of truce saying that he would never surrender, he who was once offered the crown of Germany.

    Halen left a the Polish generals in command of the siege of Berlin as he himself marched to Magdeburg, waiting for the western Prussians - the reconstituted Army of the Rhine, to attack us. Though they were deeply engaged against the Jacobins in Westfalen and Hesse-Nassau, Halen knew they would attack eventually, and indeed they did. As the situation in Berlin grew bleak from constant bombardment and attacks by the Polish siegers, Kaiser William sent the order to abandon the west and break the siege around Berlin. A force of nearly 40,000, all that remained of the entire Prussian Army, massed in Minden and marched through Hessen to to Magdeburg, as Halen had predicted. Halen’s 24,000, including three brigades of HO soldiers, took their positions in the heavily fortified city and sprung a trap for the remaining Prussians, attacking them in the night. We chased them down in Erfurt, where our dragoons surrounded them and they (mostly conscripts) surrendered to us July 30th. Prussia now had no standing forces left.

    Halen returned to Berlin after the defeat of the Prussians at Madgeburg to oversee the siege of Berlin personally. I remember that the port of Stralsund in Pommern surrendered to Polish forces on August 11, allowing supplies from Halen’s allies in Scandavia and France to reach us and we were able to replace the muskets which many of the soldiers were still using with muzzle-loading rifles. After we received these new weapons, Halen ordered an assault and we breached the walls on August 18th. The fighting was fierce and the remaining German soldiers and partisans fought for every street, commoners often joining the fray against us, but to no avail. We reached the Stadtschloss on September 1st and stormed it on the 2nd. To his credit, it was only when we had a gun pointed at his head that Kaiser William finally admitted defeat. He not only agreed to recognize an independent Poland, but also surrender Pommern in its entirety and, most importantly, for the Prussian state to disarm and pay reparations to Breslau for the cost of the war. It was a humiliating loss for Prussia, and William IV abdicated the following day in favor of his son Wilhelm I.

    We returned to Poland heroes. A parade was held in Halen’s honor in Breslau, then capital of the new country, where the country’s regency granted Halen the Order of the White Eagle, the highest honor they could bestow on him. We left Poland in early 1850, just as the Springtime of Nations faded and the End of the Revolutions came. Poland itself was not able to find a suitable descendant of house Poniatowski to lead Poland (Jozef Michal Poniatowski having turned down the throne in the darker days of the war) and I know there was some support for granting Halen the crown from the gutter, but it came to nothing and Halen would never have accepted such an offer anyway. Poland decided to institute an elected regency. First elections were held just as we left.

    Halen’s campaign had destroyed Prussia. Before our campaign was even ended they slipped from the ranks of Europe’s Great Powers, from the company of Britain, France, and Austria to that of Holland and Belgium. In the years to come, Prussia would be shredded by the Great Powers, a process Halen would have a heavy hand in. I do not know why he chose to destroy Prussia as thoroughly as he did. Perhaps they had simply crossed him one too many times. Perhaps this, and no less, was the price for crossing Halen.

    German Pan-Nationalism was an incredible force during the Springtime of Nations, overthrowing the governments of many of the lesser German states. Though my friend was immune to any such sentiment, he would often receive letters from those who had looked to Prussia as a natural leader in the Pan-Nationalist movement why he had seen fit to cow her. He also received letters of congratulation (including one from the Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand) from across Europe for his feat, from those who had feared Germany. He wrote back to none of them.

    Throughout Halen’s life, many would call him a force for good and many would call him a force for evil, but all would call him a Force.


    -------------------
    Halen's Personal Information:
    Followers: ~10,000 (1 brigade of guards, 1 brigade of artillery, 1 brigade of dragoons)
    Title and Honors: Protector of Denmark and Switzerland, Liberator of Belgium, Finland, and Poland, Grand Croix Legion of Honor (France), Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece), Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold (Austria), Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (Scandavia), Defender of Christendom (Papacy), Order of the White Eagle (Poland)
    Notable Campaigns:
    Danish-Holstein Campaign (1836-1839)
    Belgian Campaign (1839-1840)
    Greek Campaign (1841-1843)
    Finnish Campaign (1844-1845)
    Second Carlist War (1847)
    Italian Campaign (1848)
    Polish Campaign (1849)

    Thanks for your concern about my health. I'm still a little unwell but I'm feeling much better than I was yesterday and I'm no longer on any medication.

    Halen will leave Europe only when he is done with it.

    There will also be some recompense for Germany.
    Last edited by ThunderHawk3; 15-10-2011 at 10:08.
    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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  13. #53
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
    Rome GoldWarlock: Master of the ArcanePride of NationsRise of PrussiaCK2: Holy Knight

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    surprising to see Prussia so humbled ... Halen really really didn't like them
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  14. #54
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
    Crusader Kings IIDeus VultEU3 CompleteDivine WindFor the Motherland
    Hearts of Iron IIIHeir to the ThroneSemper FiVictoria 2Victoria II: A House Divided
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    If there's no other German GP then Austria has a clear shot at forming Greater Germany, which would be a formidable opponent.

    Nice to see Poland forming; I don't think I've ever come across them in any of my games.
    AAR in progress
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  15. #55
    Slacker Extraordinaire Zzzzz...'s Avatar
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    He broke Prussia. Awesome!
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  16. #56
    I did not want to read this, by the mere size of the updates. It can be ugly to the eye at first, but now I have become some class of Halen junkie

  17. #57

    Chapter 12: Partition


    The early days of 1850 saw the End of the Revolution. In some places, such as Britain, Austria, and Russia, it had failed. In others, such as France and Poland, it had succeeded. One particular curiosity was in Italy: while we were away, Giuseppe Girabaldi had returned to Sardinia-Piedmont and with the aid of his redshirt legions, unified Piedmont, Parma, Tuscany, and Two Sicilies under his banner. True to his word of honor, he excluded the Papal States from his own plans for Italy. We had returned to Switzerland when this news first reached Halen’s ears. Halen drafted a sealed letter and sent it to Garibaldi. I have no knowledge of its contents, but I know thath Garibaldi sent a reply some weeks later.

    Though the loss of Poland and the disarmament of Prussia (which we had overseen) was now concluded, the battle for Prussia was not. Prussia’s standing army was, by the terms of the Treaty of Berlin, not to be a single man in time of peace excepting some token guards for the Kaiser’s own palace. In February, France redrew its borders with Prussia, claiming much of the Rhineland now as part of France. The resulting altercation escalated into the Franco-Prussian War in March. Prussia was allied with numerous North German states, all of which abandoned Prussia immediately at the first declaration of war, sending more than a century’s careful diplomacy spiraling into nothingness and leaving Prussia to face France alone.

    In meantime, Halen kept his armies home in Geneva, where we continued to organize a new cavalry unit (HO Dragoons). Moreover, we supplied the army with a new rifle - the “Carabine à tige” from the French armories. During this period, I noticed that he kept a running correspondance with King Maximillian II of Bavaria, who I knew had taken power only recently after his father abdicated during the Springtime of Nations. When I inquired about the correspondance, Halen replied that Bavaria had designs on filling the void left by Prussia’s departure in Germany.

    In the months that followed, Bavaria would annex the neighboring states of Saxe-Meiningen and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha under the premises of “restoring order” to these provinces following the revolution. With the annexation of Gotha, they developed a border with Prussian Erfurt. King Maximillian summoned us to Bavaria in the Summer, where Halen took command of the Bavarian Army just as Maximillian declared war against Prussia, seeking Prussian Madgeburg.

    Poland had a peace treaty against Prussia. Halen did not. Under the Bavarian banner, we quickly seized Madgeburg and laid siege to Berlin without opposition from Prussian troops (who were then away fighting the French in the Rhineland). The breaches in the fortifications hardly repaired from the last war, Halen marched nearly unopposed into the Prussian capital. This time, the new Kaiser Wilhelm did flee, but left representatives to negotiate with us. Prussia ceded Madgeburg to Bavaria on September 22, 1850. We left with the thanks of King Maximillian, and Halen had been given the Royal Order of Saint George (the full title of this honor is actually hideously long, I omit it for the sake of brevity). Bavaria, for its part, was then seen as the dominant power in Germany and quickly outgrew its commitments to Austria, seen by many as Prussia’s replacement.

    Immediately after we left Bavaria, we returned to Switzerland to find that we had received urgent missives from the newly crowned Emperor Napoleon III of the Second French Empire. The message was brief: it read that the war against Prussia was not going well and that the Emperor wished to Halen to come to France at once to rectify the situation. We set out immediately on the brief journey from Geneva to Paris, though throughout the few days of marching I kept wondering how the war against Prussia could not be going well, when Halen had defeated the Prussians with a few loose brigades of Polish revolutionaries and HO Rifles while France was the most powerful land force in Europe.

    When we arrived at in Paris, we met Emperor Napoleon III in a ballroom in the Louvre Palace. A footman of some description was standing at the door and began to announce Halen’s complete title as we entered, Halen cut him short somewhere around Liberator of Finland and merely announced himself as “Halen.” The Emperor rose to meet us and my heart swelled with pride to see a Napoleon returned to the throne of France. Louis-Napoleon shook hands with us. Halen’s first words to him were “I knew your uncle.”

    We quickly assessed the situation: the Springtime of Nations had swept Napoleon III into power, but left the military corps in disarray. Much of the vast French military was overseas, and the Emperor had issued a declaration regarding the Rhine in Prussia’s moment of weakness as a symbol of French strength, not expecting them to put up much of a fight, with a hundred thousand profession French soldiers still on the continent and no Prussia army to speak of. Prussia, however, had rejected the French claims on the Rhine and the war had started - they’d issued a new conscription law and mobilized some 63,000 soldiers, who had miraculous beat back the larger and better-trained French forces, going so far as to claim the Alsace-Lorraine region from French troops.

    When Halen replaced the incompetent French generals, the fortunes of France immediately changed. The Prussians had divded their forces into two armies: one of 40,000 or so at Strasbourg and another force of about 20,000 guarding the border near Saarbrucken. We first smashed the force as Strasbourg (easily for Halen, as our forces outnumbered them two-to-one) and when they fled to their rear-guard at Saarbrucken, recaptured Alsace-Lorraine.

    The Prussians never really stood a chance against Halen, but they sealed their own doom when the launched a counter-attack against us at Metz, attempting to catch us off-guard in the night. Halen had predicted the attack and while the line seemed quiet and our troops asleep, every man was really awake and grasping his rifle - when they marched towards us with the intent to cause chaos, they were in fact only marching into a trap.

    The campaign against the Prussians would last nearly a year and a half - without the capture of Berlin to hasten the end of the war, Wilhelm simply poured more and more troops into the Rhine. Probably a hundred thousand Prussian conscripts were killed or captured in defense of those few provinces before Halen captured the Prussian Army of the Rhine at Cologne (only a stone’s throw from Dusseldorf, where he had first captured the same army a decade ago) on April 4, 1852 and Kaiser Wilhelm found that he was now completely out of soldiers. Disarmed, prohibited from raising a standing army and with his reserves of manpower exhausted, the Kaiser finally admitted defeat when he could no longer field even one meager battalion.

    Emperor Napoleon III called the Paris Conference in late April to discuss the Partition of Prussia with the relevant delegates while Halen occupied the provinces they discussed. After months of severe negotations, they reached an agreement in July: France would inherit the Rhineland, as they had wished, while their Belgian allies would annex Nordrhein. Hannover would receive Westfalen (as a concession to the British, who remained on good terms with Hannover even though their royal houses were no longer entangled) and Wurttemberg would inherit Prussian Sigmaringen. All would recognize Bavaria’s claim on Madgeburg.

    Prussia was forced to accept but was left with almost nothing, and Kaiser Wilhelm was faced with immediate rebellion. On August 11, 1852, Jacobins seized Berlin and declared the Republic of Brandenburg. Prussia had finally ceased to be.

    The Bavarian-Hannovarian War, a brief but furious struggle for dominance in Northern Germany, would begin that very August. Halen would decline to participate, but Bavaria would soundly defeat Hannover within the space of a few months. Pan-Nationalist sentiment, still running strong in much of the region, turned to Bavaria as a new natural leader. Pan-Nationalist rebels overthrew the government in Hannover immediately after their defeat and King Maximillian I was offered the Crown of Germany from the gutter, which he accepted. The unified German state came into being on October 1, 1852, following a lavish ceremony in Munich. All German states excepting Baden, Wurttemberg, Holstein, and Saxon (but including the newly formed Republic of Brandenburg) accepted Maximillian’s leadership, and he so became the first Kaiser of Germany.

    Hannover, Britain’s only ally in mainland Europe, was one of those countries annexed and the United Kingdom was furious to see them go. Blame in Parliament heavily fell on both King Maximillian and Halen himself. It was the fifth time Halen crossed the British.

    France and Belgium, on the other hand, were ecstatic. Halen already had the Grand Croix of the Legion of Honor from France; Emperor Napoleon eventually decided to commission a new medal in Halen’s honor - the Order of Halen is now the second-highest award France gives, after the Legion of Honor. Belgium’s population had been increased by half again by the addition of Nordrhein to the Empire. King Leopold II awarded Halen the Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold, the country’s highest honor.

    After he received it, I remember Halen remarked to me: “I have won many honors, but I will never win the Iron Cross.” I could not help but agree that Prussia’s highest honor was probably eternally beyond his reach.

    Before the Partition of Prussia, Halen had been viewed as a curiosity or an anamoly in Europe, his exploits in Denmark, Greece, and Russia seen as brillant but minor. Even when he sent the world to war in the Crimean and formed Scandavia, his actions were seen as ultimately serving the standing balance of power.

    Halen destroyed Prussia almost single-handedly, reducing one of the greatest countries in Europe to a footnote in the history books and bringing a candidate to replace it. From then on, he was seen as a mover and a shaker and greeted as one would greet a head of state or a king. All realized that he was a force that could tear the balance of power asunder and build a new one by will alone. He redrew the map of Europe in 1852, but he had not yet put down his pen.

    -------------------
    Halen's Personal Information:
    Followers: ~12,000 (2 brigades of guards, 1 brigade of artillery, 1 brigade of dragoons)
    Title and Honors: Protector of Denmark and Switzerland, Liberator of Belgium, Finland, and Poland, Grand Croix Legion of Honor (France), Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece), Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold (Austria), Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (Scandavia), Defender of Christendom (Papacy), Order of the White Eagle (Poland), Royal Order of Saint George (Bavaria), Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
    Notable Campaigns:
    Danish-Holstein Campaign (1836-1839)
    Belgian Campaign (1839-1840)
    Greek Campaign (1841-1843)
    Finnish Campaign (1844-1845)
    Second Carlist War (1847)
    Italian Campaign (1848)
    Polish Campaign (1849)
    Magdeburg Campaign (1850)
    Partition Campaign (1851-1852)
    Last edited by ThunderHawk3; 16-10-2011 at 02:27.
    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

  18. #58
    Mayor zagoroth's Avatar
    Crusader Kings IIHearts of Iron IIIVictoria 2Victoria II: A House Divided

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    This is just so fun to read.

    How do you manage the tag-switching, with switching the country Halen goes under? Do you just keep on switching him around in the files?
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  19. #59
    Lt. General John Forseti's Avatar
    HoI AnthologyFor the Motherland500k club

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    Wow this is great stuff. Any chance we could get a world map now that Halen's new world order has done some serious re-arrangments?

  20. #60
    Slacker Extraordinaire Zzzzz...'s Avatar
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    I'll predict that trouble will come to Halen. Getting popular have its own disadvantage, I guess.
    The list of all my AARs: INKWELL

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