Chapter 9: Two Years of Solitude
Seeing the enormous French armies encroaching on the Prussian home territory, I have no choice but to back off even further. There is precious little I can do to stop the invading forces, and I just have to wait for opportune moments to pick off a few thousand here and there. That is how I see an opportunity to save most of occupied Saxony, but it is at the cost of my capital falling to the Grande Armée. Oh well, could have been worse I guess. (Not really.)
I win some small victories, slowly picking away at the French manpower pool, but without intervention from others, I doubt I can weather this storm. Napoleon himself is slowly and inexorably marching deeper into Prussia, and I just don’t have the forces I need to stop him. It doesn’t help that no other great power wants to join my coalition. Even after Britain’s and Russia's truce with France runs out! Britain has gotten caught up in a war with Spain, and Russia is busy with the Ottomans. Britain also happens to be busy with a coalition formed by Algiers and Sardinia, but that doesn't seem to be much of a problem for them.
Even offering them leadership is not enough!
Of course, who else should take advantage of this situation than my hereditary enemy?
And the Ottomans are busy with Russia! It's as if France was planning this all along! I’m not as concerned about Austria as I should, though: if all these French armies hadn’t been spread across my map like butter on toast, Austria would have been nothing but a minor nuisance. That’s why I decide to let them go about their business for now. I have more important matters to attend to.
Look at them. "Invading"
The war with France has already been going on for a year, so I am thankful their progress has been slow, but this just can't go on for too long. What if Russia decide to take advantage as well? Or Sweden returns with a vengeance? I decide to run a final gambit. My troops reposition to lure away one part of Napoleon’s enormous army, then swiftly reposition to hit his main force with all my might. A whole two of my three remaining armies! That includes the army formerly stationed in Malmö/"gramatically incorrect German name", which I have finally ferried across with my fresh transport fleet.
I am down to three remaining armies, but France is finally falling back. I win a couple more small victories, and finally retake Berlin.
I am starting to think this was all suspiciously easy. The French armies are just melting in front of me, never putting up any proper resistance. I check the ledger, and my heart skips a beat.
That’s manpower and army size, respectively.
They still have an enormous advantage, but they no longer outnumber me three to one, and they’ve lost 200,000 men from their manpower pool! At least in some small sense, the WAR HAS TURNED! Or at least, I am a shorter distance behind now than when we began. France probably expected to swat me away like a fly, but here we are, more than a year later. If they keep wasting their manpower on small forces I can easily dispatch, I can grind them down. I am both relieved and desperate at the same time.
Things are starting to look up, and I slowly retake the land I’ve lost.
Of course, that's not counting the south, where Austria keeps pouring across the borders. And for those of you who favour diplomatic solutions to every problem: what kind of feeble warriors are you? Also, they refuse all my offers of peace.
Unfortunately, France still has her allies, able to put up some nasty surprises. After their crushing defeat almost a year ago, by December of 1813 the Netherlands are ready to march another army into my territory.
I send two of my three remaining armies north to take care of it, and it turns out to be their rescue. I'll skim over what happened next, as it is slightly embarassing.
This is southwestern Prussia just as I think I’ve somehow halted France:
This is southwestern Prussia, two months and one army lost later:
It can be a bit difficult to see, but that's 73,000 men.
All that manpower had to go somewhere. France is back, and two years after they started their invasion, they are ready to take everything they want.
Next time: Someone declares war on France! But is it too late?