MastahCheef117

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His Royal Highness, Charles
Duke of Teschen, Archduke of Austria
389px-Imperial_Coat_of_Arms_of_the_Empire_of_Austria_%281815%29.svg.png


This AAR shall be a little mini AAR. Rather than covering a country, like most/all AARs (save for Crusader Kings, but that's another story), we shall journey together, following a memoir - a textbook - of the military career of Archduke Charles. Historically he dealt to Napoleon his first major defeat at Aspern-Essling in May of 1809, and he is often regarded as Napoleon's "archenemy" and one of his most formidable opponents. Comparable to Arthur Wellesley in tactical skill and command style, we shall follow the "Austrian Wellington" in his conquests against France and the rest of Europe.

This will be a predominantly battle report-style AAR with occasional strategic views of the Austrian Empire and the rest of Europe.

Rules
  • Difficulty: Normal
  • AI Aggressiveness: Normal
  • Archduke Charles' army may not exceed 150,000 men in size (this is ignored if other armies gather to support it)
  • Gameplay will be realistic; i.e. no all-guard/dragoon armies, etc.

And... we're off!

Contents
The Serbian Campaign - "Francis' War of Vanity" (1805-1806)
Part I. - The Serbian Affair
Part II. - A Victory in Vain
The Serbian Campaign: Summary

Karl-Ludwig-duke-of-teschen.jpg.w300h421.jpg


The Army of Serbia
Reserves: Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen
17,018 strong
4,806 Guards​
4,812 Infantry​
1,200 Artillery​
1,200 Cavalry​
5,000 Supply​

Left Flank: Ferdinand von Bubna-Littitz
19,224 strong
4,800 Guards​
9,624 Infantry​
1,200 Artillery​
2,400 Light Infantry​
1,200 Cavalry​

Center: Johann von Chasteler de Courcelles
15,224 strong
4,806 Guards​
7,218 Infantry​
2,000 Artillery​
1,200 Cavalry​

Right Flank: Prince Johann von Liechtenstein
18,612 strong
4,806 Guards​
5,406 Infantry​
1,200 Artillery​
2,400 Cavalry​
4,800 Light Infantry​

Total Strength: 70,078


The Victories of Archduke Charles

The Serbian Campaign
The Battle of Makarska
4-6 December, 1805


Starting Strength: 60,500 Austrians, 44,000 Ottomans
End Strength: 55,166 Austrians, 13,372 Ottomans

Charles intercepted an Ottoman force heading for the Croatian town of Ragusa. Charles' Army of Serbia overtook and the enemy force and then deployed in front of them, forcing them to engage. Deployed along a gentle ridge, Austrian artillery devastated the Ottoman ranks before musketfire dispersed the remainder of the army. On the third day of battle, the Austrians counterattacked, crushing what little remained of the Ottoman army.


--

The Battle of Kotor
15 December, 1805


Starting Strength: 60,000 Austrians, 18,300 Ottomans
End Strength: 59,464 Austrians, 1,500 Ottomans

Charles encountered a much smaller force outside Kotor in Montenegro. Following a concentrated cavalry charge on the Ottoman left (made by Prince Johann von Liechtenstein), the Ottoman army was disorganized and then destroyed following an advance, carried out by the rest of the Army of Serbia en-masse.


--

The Battle of Belgrade
2 September, 1806


Starting Strength: 52,000 Austrians, 60,000 Ottomans
End Strength: 41,000 Austrians, 32,000 Otomans

Forced to leave behind a vanguard of 15,000 men at Nis, Charles and his Army of Serbia force-marched north to intercept the 62,000-strong Ottoman army approaching Belgrade. With 52,000 men of his own, Charles caught the Ottomans unawares in an encounter battle; as the Ottoman army wheeled around to face the new threat, Prince Johann (commanding the Austrian right) mounted a 2,000-man cavalry charge, sending into disarray the Ottoman army. A second charge, carried out by the rest of the Army of Serbia, routed the Ottomans with heavy casualties. It would prove to be Charles' greatest victory up to this point, and the most important - and last - battle of the war.
 
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Avindian

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A very interesting idea: have you read Seelmeister's AAR on Etienne MacDonald? Seems quite similar to what you propose here.
 

DensleyBlair

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This looks a very interesting idea. I was too late for Seelmeister's MacDonald AAR, but this looks promising - especially considering I'm in need of a MotE AAR to follow now Avindian has finished his.

I'm looking forward to your first update.
 

MastahCheef117

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Part I. - The Serbian Affair

Some may say that Archduke Charles achieved generalship simply because of his relation to the Emperor.

The younger brother of the Austrian Emperor, Francis II - Holy Roman Emperor, Emperor of Austria, and King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia - was born on 5 September 1771.

The man who would later best one of the French Revolutionary Army's greatest generals (Jean Baptiste-Jourdan) at Amberg and Würzburg in the late summer of 1796 suffered from epilepsy, which some came to view as a weakness. Despite this, these victories, among many others during the wars of the Revolution, would secure himself as one of the top field commanders of the Habsburg Army.

Charles was known as a particularly amicable commander and member of the imperial family. He sought to know his men well, and to connect with them, so that when the time came, he would have their loyalty and obedience on the field.

Around the same time that Charles was promoted from commander of the Army of Italy to Field Marshal of the Army of Serbia, tensions began to heat up between Austria and the Ottoman Empire. An altercation between the Austrian ambassador to Constantinople and the secretary and representative of the Ottoman Sultan (Selim III) about relations with the increasingly worrisome French Empire - as the Austrians feared French pressure would force the Ottoman government to side with them against the Habsburgs - resulted in the expulsion of the Austrian ambassador alongside threats to kill him by several imperial guards. Approximately 200 Austrian militia crossed the border three days later, where they burned over half of the town of Šabac to the ground, killing hundreds of Ottoman residents in the process. As a result, the leader of the militia was executed and all that took part were imprisoned indefinitely. Any lack of punishment for those that committed the act would only fuel the fires of revenge within heart the Ottoman government and its Sultan.

The reappointment of Charles from Italy to the border with Ottoman Serbia in late April of 1805 came at the same time that Napoleon completed his conquest of the mainland of the Italian Peninsula, and when French Foreign Minister Charles Talleyrand arrived in Constantinople to begin negotiations with the Ottoman Sultan on his neutrality in the growing European conflict. Already the French Alliance was at war with the United Kingdom and the newly-entered Russian Empire and Portuguese Kingdom. The British efforts at supplanting the Portuguese defenses against the Spanish Army, along with the defense of Gibraltar, had by late June remained a success, with no Franco-Spanish gains being made. If the Coalition were to see any success, however, it had to see the entrance of both the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire. The Pan-European War, however, was not at the forefront of Emperor Francis' mind.

63b34b26b9f50e40b1eb57f1cd7.jpg

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor and Emperor of Austria

The deployment of three Austrian armies on the border with the Ottoman Empire and its puppet governments in Wallachia and Moldavia by July had increased tensions between the two great powers even further; the Army of Serbia, the Army of Bosnia, and the Army of Transylvania were all at full strength and organizing for military action. The largest army, the Army of Serbia, was under the direct command of Charles. Amid complaints from the Ottoman ambassador and the refusal of the Austrian troops to withdraw, war broke out on August 15.

Immediately, Charles marched south, with his 70,000-strong Army of Serbia. His immediate objective was to secure the fort at Tuzla and to attack Belgrade from the south - while destroying all opposition he encountered. Further west, the 56,000-strong Army of Bosnia under Mack was pushing east to secure Sarajevo. Late in the evening of 17 August, Charles arrived at Tuzla and immediately set up a siege. By 4 September, with progress going along steadily, Charles, in behavior much unlike his normal, he ordered an assault on the fort. The 5,200-strong garrison of the Tuzla fort fought ferociously - much more ferociously than Charles predicted. After an assault that lasted nearly 8 days, the fort was only secured after the loss of over 8,000 Austrian lives. That day Charles received similar reports of Mack's successful assault on the miniscule garrison in Sarajevo, who was now moving east in support of Charles' own planned attack on Belgrade. The Army of Serbia arrived outside the gates of Belgrade on 29 September, and Mack arrived soon after on 1 October.

116,000 Austrians were now besieging Belgrade, which was defended by fewer than 8,000 Ottoman garrison soldiers.

However, hearing reports that a 44,000-man Ottoman force was moving towards Montenegro, Charles realized that the failure to neutralize this force would leave all of Croatia at threat to Ottoman occupation. Leaving Mack behind to maintain the siege of the city, the Army of Serbia marched west at top speed in order to encounter and defeat the Ottoman army. Charles force-marched his army west, where he eventually passed the Ottoman army, and then deployed in front of it, outside of Makarska, on 4 December. The Ottoman force, with no other choice, approached and gave battle to Charles while he maintained a superior position.

Initially Charles deployed his 60,500-man army - another 1,000 men had been lost in the march from Belgrade - on a long ridge facing north-east, the direction from which the 44,000 Ottomans were approaching. The open field that the Ottoman army was forced to cross was a prime area for artillery bombardment; Charles' 141 howitzers and field guns had a field day [pun intended] as they continually shelled the slowly-approaching Ottoman infantry. The 1,200 Ottoman cavalry sat in reserve, waiting for the right moment to strike. They would not have their chance.

Austrian+Guns.jpg

Austrian field guns opening up on the advancing Ottoman line at Makarska, 4 December

The Austrian artillery shelled, for almost 20 minutes continuously, the poorly-positioned Ottoman infantry, which suffered over 6,000 casualties just in its approach to the Austrian lines. Once within firing range, the disciplined Austrian infantry fired three volleys for every single Ottoman volley; disorganization and poor morale did not help. An attempted bayonet charge on the Austrian left resulted in the death of the commander of the Ottoman right flank; the commander of the left flank was wounded and carried from the field. The center withdrew from its attack, intent on reorganizing. Thus ended the first day of combat. There were approximately 16,000 Ottoman casualties - Austrian losses numbered barely 500.

5 December saw surprisingly less combat as the Ottomans attempted to reorganize the remains of their army and as Charles and his command staff drew up a new plan to deal with the severely weakened enemy force before them. Surprisingly enough, the Ottomans did not attempt a withdrawal of any kind; their numbers, now around 28,000, only included about 21,000 battle-read personnel; the rest were wounded or were members of the small supply train.

The third day - 6 December - saw more action. Charles, with his generals - Ferdinand von Bubna-Littitz of the left, Johann von Chasteler de Courcelles of the center, and Prince Johann von Liechtenstein of the right - decided upon an aggressive attack on the Ottoman army, which maintained an open and risky position in the middle of the field ahead of the ridge. The Austrians pressed the attack on the Ottomans, who desperately attempted to organize a defense.

Austrian-Soldier-Art.jpg

An Austrian regimental officer leading troops in the attack on 6 December

Any Ottoman attempts at making a defensive line fell apart quickly, as the weight and momentum of the Austrian attack quickly broke the improvised left and right flanks. The Ottoman center, however, remained steadfast, taking the entire brunt of the Austrian attack. Volleys were traded back and forth; with the Ottoman artillery having been routed from concentrated counter-battery fire, the center had no artillery support. Ottoman cavalry was either scattered or had already been driven from the field.

The victory at Makarska was the first major field engagement between Austrian and Ottoman forces in the war. The Ottomans barely escaped with just 13,000 men, down from almost 44,000, in comparison to the Austrian losses of about 5,200, the large majority of which occurred on the third day of battle. On 9 December, Charles received word from a messenger from Mack that he had taken Belgrade. The two great victories greatly increased support for the war effort across the Austrian Empire, and the Emperor was greatly pleased with the two victories by Mack and Charles.

RWcjqbR.png

The results of the Battle of Makarska (4-6 December, 1805)

The war, however, was far from over, and only time would tell just how great the Austrian victory would be.

----

@ Avindian: Indeed. I actually was not aware of the AAR until I you mentioned it. I just read most of it; a very good read, indeed.
@ DensleyBlair: Thank you :) I hope you are not disappointed.
 
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RedNomNoms

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MastahCheef117

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Part II. - A Victory in Vain

It would go unsaid that both Charles and Mack would have much preferred fighting in the spring, summer, or autumn, as the cold temperatures of fighting in Bosnia and Serbia in the middle of December were not welcoming. Even with a lack of any serious amounts of snow, the cold weather did not act as a friend to Charles' forces.

Fresh from their victory at Makarska from 6 December, the Army of Serbia received 5,000 reinforcements to most regiments in the army, bringing his effective numbers back up to about 60,000 men. A crucially-timed messenger from the city of Ragusa to the southeast alerted Charles to the presence of another minute Ottoman force of 18,300 men, almost entirely infantry, to the southeast in Kotor. "Any disciplined body or force of men we encounter must be dealt with," stated Charles to his staff, "as the survival of any enemy force may mean certain defeat."

Charles' army marched to Kotor in three days and encountered the small Ottoman army on 15 December. Immediately the Turk infantry began forming a line with which to defend against the Austrians, but Prince Johann of Liechtenstein, commander of the Austrian right flank, launched a daring cavalry raid against the Ottoman left and rear. The cavalry charged across the brown fields and penetrated the Ottoman left, breaking into the rear and threatening to attack the Ottoman headquarters. The Ottoman commander, Ibrahim Bushati, suffered a musketball to the leg, and was carried from the field by several of his aides. With the Ottoman army now nearly general-less, Charles ordered Ferdinand von Bubna-Littitz and Johann von Chasteler de Courcelles - his left and center commanders, respectively - to launch an all-out assault on the Ottoman right and center. Prince Johann's cavalry began hitting the rear of the center and right of the Ottoman lines at the same time, creating a hammer-and-anvil effect.

cavalry_charge_Austerlitz.jpg

Austrian cavalry participating in Prince Johann's charge at Kotor on 15 December

The result was devastating: approximately 6,500 Ottomans were killed or wounded, with another 10,000 having surrendered. Barely 1,500 Ottomans made their escape. Austrian casualties were at 536 killed or wounded.

Though not as resounding a victory as Makarska a week before, Charles had secured yet another victory against an inferior Ottoman force, thereby weakening the enemy's capabilities in the region. As the Army of Serbia began occupation duty in many of the surrounding villages and towns, Charles received word that Mack had brought to battle almost 27,000 Ottomans and had defeated them with is 50,000 man force, inflicting up to 16,000 casualties and suffering but 1,300, just south of Belgrade, on 18 December. It was the fourth victory of the Serbian Campaign, and - notably - the fourth battle. Even as Charles dug deeper and deeper into the naked and unprotected territory of the Ottoman Empire, he received further news from Mack - and possibly war-changing news - of a battle that had occurred in Vranje, just southeast of the recently liberated Nis. The 47,000 men of Mack's army encountered 60,000 Ottomans outside of the town, and in the greatest victory of the war so far, he defeated them in open battle. Though Austrian casualties were the highest of any battle in the campaign - at roughly 15,500 - Ottoman casualties were even higher, at what was estimated to be an astonishing 33,000 - almost 10,000 of whom surrendered after seeing their commander, Mehmet Pasha, flee from the field in terror and disgrace. It was, up to this point, the most important victory of the war, and, to Charles' chagrin, it had not been him that had secured it.

JsXVeof.png

Macks' crushing victory over the Ottomans at Vranje on 25 January

With the destruction of these two armies, Ottoman opposition to Austrian occupation of the Balkan regions all but ceased.

At least, for a couple of months.

Once the armies of Charles and Mack had sufficiently reinforced themselves, and occupied further territory, the Archduke drew up plans to bring his Army - now at a strength of 67,000 - deep into the Ottoman Balkans, where they would strike Sofia and finally bring the Ottomans to the table in regards to their territorial concessions. However, on August 2, he received news of great importance: an Ottoman army of almost 60,000 had slipped behind Austrian lines and was marching directly for Belgrade. Knowing that the loss of the city and its massive fortress would tip the scales in favor of the enemy, Charles planned to set out, but encountered a serious problem: with Mack campaigning in Albania with his own Army of Bosnia, and with the threats of losing the front-line town of Nis ever-present, Charles was forced to leave almost 15,000 of his own men at Nis, after which he then marched to Belgrade with his newly-reduced force of just 52,000 men by August 29. It was to be the first battle in the Serbian Campaign where Charles would be outnumbered.

The Austrian forces intercepted the Ottomans when they were about a day's march away from Belgrade on 2 September. Approached from the rear, the Ottomans were forced to wheel around entirely to face the oncoming threat. As at Kotor almost 9 months earlier, Prince Johann, commanding the Austrian right, took the immediate initiative, charging out with almost 2,000 cavalrymen, himself leading the charge on his blazingly-white stallion, which shone even brighter as it reflected the early September sun. The Ottomans were, thankfully for the Prince, still too slow to react; his cavalry charge resulted in his disruption of the shifting of the Ottoman right. With the Ottomans reeling from the charge of cavalry, Johann ordered forward the rest of his command, as did Generals Bubna-Littitz and von Chasteler. Now the entire Austrian army was bearing down on the increasingly disorganized Ottoman army. Grenzers and other skirmishers supported a steady and brutal infantry advance as volley after volley of musketfire poured into the Ottoman ranks, which attempted desperately to reply with its own sparse volleys and single-shots of ineffective fire. The Ottoman artillery was struck by Johann's cavalry; the rest of the horses bearing the Ottoman ammunition and limbers fled from the field in terror. The Ottoman general himself fled, accompanied by his entire army's body of cavalry, leaving his infantry defenseless and without a formal commander.[1]

stereichinfanteriesk.jpg

Skirmishers of the Somariva brigade on the Austrian right cover for advancing infantry, 2 September

With the Austrian troops bearing down on them like a crouching tiger, the Ottoman army lost any cohesion that it had been able to before maintain. Thousands fled the field en-masse, running without their weapons, in fear of their lives. Those that chose to stand and fight in vain were slaughtered almost to a man; another pocket of Ottoman infantry surrendered en-masse, netting the Austrians over 15,000 prisoners.

By twilight on 2 September, 32,000 Ottomans had fled the field, scattered throughout the countryside in supreme disarray. 13,000 had been lost to the actual fighting; the rest had surrendered or had gone missing. When news of this victory was brought before Francis II, it is said that he whispered under his breath, "By God, Charles has done it."

It was not meant to be, however.

Mack's own force had not seen as much luck as Charles' had; disease had infected his camp and thousands died in the time between his victory at Vranje and Charles' victory outside of Belgrade. At the time of the second battle of Belgrade, Mack had under his command just 23,000 men left. They were ordered north to replenish in Croatia. As this happened, Charles heard that his own force defending Nis had been demolished by an approaching Ottoman force of nearly 80,000. With the Army of Transylvania far distant attempting to pacify the armies of the Ottoman satellite states, Charles was horribly outnumbered, and there would be no way he would be able to persevere.

The negotiations that continued in Constantinople then took a turn for the worst for the Austrians. The withdrawal of Mack's Army of Bosnia and the weakening of Charles' Army of Serbia, along with the arrival of a large Ottoman force, meant that the Ottomans could press for a white-peace situation with the Austrians. After much debating - and with anger shown on behalf of Charles and his older brother - the Austrians accepted the white peace proposal given by the Ottomans on 9 September. "Never have so many lives been given," regretfully remarked Charles, "for absolutely no gain at all." The entire campaign was, with no better applicable term, a victory in vain.

----
[1] - This Ottoman commander was later publicly executed in the royal square in Constantinople.

@ RedNomNoms: Thank you. I hope you enjoy!
 

DensleyBlair

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A promising start. Very nicely written stuff - Charles' last quote reminded me somewhat of a certain English wartime leader.

Looking forward to more.
 

Seelmeister

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Great start, really enjoy the writing. The dramatic Balkan campaign is a very interesting start to the ga, some solid victories over a Turkish army which is clearly inferior in quality, but I fear the only long term consequences of the short war are the loss of many thousand Austrian many, and a decent number of idea points for the Ottomans.
 

MastahCheef117

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The Serbian Campaign: Summary​

Despite the major victories that had taken place in the Serbian Campaign (15 August 1805 - 9 September 1806) - which quickly became known as "Francis' War of Vanity" in the upper circles of Austrian society - the Austrian Empire had been forced to seek a white peace before the arrival of an overwhelmingly large Ottoman army could defeat Archduke Charles' severely depleted Army of Serbia. Even with the occupation of Ottoman Bosnia and northern Serbia - including the key city of Belgrade, around which the last major battle of the war was fought - the Ottoman government relented signing any sort of peace deal until the Austrians were willing to come to the negotiating table.

The three key Austrian military units that participated in the conflict were the three largest armies within the Imperial Army. The Army of Serbia was indeed the largest, placed under the command of the Emperor's brother himself, starting the conflict at its peak strength of over 70,000. As previously seen, it would end the conflict at barely over 40,000 men in size - not due to tactical ineptness of Charles himself, but rather the strategic predicament that was thrust in his face; his force was further weakened after the victory at Belgrade when his 15,000-man detachment at Nis was mostly destroyed by the oncoming Ottoman force whose mere presence brought about an end to the war.

Franz_I_%28II%29_half-length_portrait_in_Austrian_uniform.jpg

Francis II, Emperor of Austria. The successes of his younger brother were quickly rolled back following the appearance of the Ottoman army, which terrified him into a peace deal.

Despite the annihilation of an Austrian detachment at Nis and the overall lack of territorial gain at the end of the conflict, the Austrian army had, by the standards of some, exceeded expectations; the consistent defeats of Austrian troops at the hands of French armies in the Revolutionary Wars, coupled with the new organizational and logistical system within the French Imperial Army, had made many doubt the effectiveness of Francis' Army. The combat record of Archduke Charles and his forces during the conflict contradicted the beliefs of many European leaders, generals, and aristocrats, and reminded the whole of Europe to not underestimate the capabilities of Austria.

The performance of several regiments of the Army of Serbia, in particular, had been above excellent; the Vogel line infantry brigade (left flank) had secured four Ottoman regimental banners; the Colloredo grenadier brigade (left flank) secured five; the Zinzendorff line brigade (center), five; the Zinzendorff grenadiers (right), an astonishing six. Many of the Guard and Grenadier regiments had served very notably as well; most of them under the direct command of Charles in the reserve, they were deployed as the main Austrian line began to weaken, or where they served at the forefront of one of many bayonet charges that occurred during the war.

austrian_infanytry_in_1809_by_giuseppe_rava.jpg

Austrian Grenadiers (Zinzendorff regiment) leading a bayonet charge, probably at Belgrade

The all-too proficient men of the Archduke's command were more than happy to remain in camp with Charles after the Peace of Kruševac as the rest of September waned into October. The gaps that had been made following the battle of Belgrade were slowly being filled with fresh recruits; it was not fast, enough, however.

And then, on 14 October, something happened: something which very few people would have anticipated. Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, crowned himself King of Italy.

And so, Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen, was ordered to report to Venice.

----



@ DensleyBlair: I appreciate it. Indeed, I was inspired a little bit by Sir Churchill.
@ Seelmeister: Thanks! I felt that this little confrontation would be (at the very least) a decent start: fighting technologically and logistically inferior, warming Charles up for fighting the big game ;)
 
Last edited:

DensleyBlair

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Being inspired by Sir Winston is never a bad thing ;)

Another interesting update. I'm looking forward to seeing how Austria's newfound standing in Europe will affect things. Perhaps even a victory against France? Or am I being a bit too ambitious yet?

Looking forward to the next one.
 

Frymonmon

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I will be watching this.