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oh well... at least there is a Bonapart in the Government... as a Bonapartist myself... I was hoping for a 'Restoratio Imperii'
oh well... at least there is a Bonapart in the Government... as a Bonapartist myself... I was hoping for a 'Restoratio Imperii'

Me too.
Inroads to Germany! France needs some buffer...
Specialist290: Well, I hope that answers your question! ;)

Heh, it certainly does! I have to admit, an Orleanist-Bonapartist coalition (of all things) is probably the absolute last thing I expected -- but then, I suppose politics makes for strange bedfellows. The way it was set up has just the right balance of curveball unpredictability and hindsight obviousness.

Meanwhile, Prussia makes an early bid for Pan-German unity. Let's hope their bark turns out to be worse than their bite.
Caught up! Excellent stuff RossN, the Bonapartist compromise is a clever move by the Prince. Unifying yes but it also puts the burden on Louis-Napoleon to show his loyalty to the Orleanistes. I take it he's sworn an oath to the King?

And war with a Pan-German Prussia? I can't think of a better way to solidify the two factions than a march on the Rhine. That said the Austrian alliance could prove a millstone as the Empire declines. What does Paris think of the Italian revolts in this context?
I hope France will prevail in its war against Prussia.
As for Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, real life has seen him launch a coup to become emperor from his position as President. I'm sure he'll manage to achieve just the same result from the position of Président du Conseil.

French Army on march.JPG

French soldiers crossing the Rhine, late Winter 1849/50.

Part Sixteen - The West

Most of the royalist journals welcomed war with Prussia, France's old enemy and Britannia's catspaw on the continent. Between France and Austria Prussia would be crushed in months if not weeks. Even the liberals, setting aside their loathing of Austria in the rush of patriotism, voiced their confidence that Prussia would soon be defeated.

Bonaparte and the royal family did not share this optimism. Nor did the generals. The Prussian Army was famous for its quality in men and material and while on paper France had twice as many men as the enemy, Berlin could call on a huge body of trained reservists. The Austrians were an unknown quantity but few believed they had been strengthened by fighting their Hungarian fellow subjects. As for the lesser Germanies, individually their militaries were fairly weak save for Bavaria(pro-Austrian) and Hannover (pro-Prussian)but collectively they could tip the balance one way or the other.

King Frederick William IV of Prussia was blamed for starting the war, but in truth the culpability more likely lay with his generals who saw an Austria grievously weakened and the rise of pan-Germanism and persuaded (or forced) their reluctant monarch to issue a declaration of war. Britain stood neutral (to the deep relief of France.) Indeed Sir Robert Peel made a gallant but doomed effort to bring the powers to the negotiating table. [1] In Vienna all was chaos; Prince Metternich, for forty years the most powerful politician in Europe had been swept away to exile in London. In his place was Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg (almost unknown in Paris) and the 'boy emperor' Francis. Guizot, sent to Vienna on 10 June 1849, just days after the war began, was dismayed to find the Austrians were suspicious of Bonaparte and guarded around him, despite the French envoy's decades of service. Guizot, knowing Louis-Philippe's feelings did not dare report the truth in his letters to the King. To Bonaparte and the Prince Royal he was clearer: Austria, weakened and aware of her weakness, could not be fully relied upon.

The French Army of the warm, dry Summer of 1849 was not much different to that that had marched into Belgium have a decade earlier. Still clad in blue and red and armed with breech loaders they were not too different to their grandfathers who had marched under the Eagles. Their enemies wore the smart dark waffenrock uniform and the spiked pickelhaube helmets, caricatures of which were soon to be so familiar to French civilians reading journals for news on the war.

One difference to wars past was the use of the railway. Both France and Prussia were pioneers in laying tracks and though the mass of men involved was well beyond the capability of the transport networks the sight and especially the sound of the locomotive under steam would appear in many a post war memoir. For most young men it would be their first experience travelling by machine. The Prince Royal was later to take use of this, travelling from Paris to Metz in a special train to visit wounded soldiers.

Pre-war plans held that in the event of a conflict with Prussia the French should cross the border and occupy Saarbrücken (or Sarrebruck as romantic Bonapartists still called it.) However the plan was quickly changed when Prussians invaded Bavaria. Faced with the possibility of such an important ally being overrun the French moved to relieve King Maximilian. The first battle of the war (at least as far as France was concerned) was fought at Kaiserslautern at the start of July. The French under Marshal Hamelin defeated the Prussians under General Erwin Droste but a great cost - a reminder of the excellence of the Prussian Army.

Battle of Kaiserlautern.jpg

The Battle of Kaiserlautern, 5 July, 1849.

Where France met Prussia (or her allies) that Summer and Autumn of 1849, in the many battles that followed Kaiserlauter, it usually resulted in a triumph for la Patrie, but rarely without pain. The Prussians had, for the most part, the advantage of fighting on home ground and an admittedly skilled class of general. If anything however the French military was more modern in equipment and tactics [2] but the heavy casualties taken against the British only a few years earlier had hollowed the vital junior officer and non-commissioned officer classes. The unfinished military reforms of the late 1840s had planned to increase the woeful supply of artillery, but in the event the guns required to make the Valée system a reality had not been built. The Prussians on the other hand a great superiority in artillery, again not so much in quality of weapon or even in modern tactics but in numbers. Mercifully for France, Frederick William's artillery corps were mostly used in the eastern front in this first phase of the war, where they inflicted shattering casualties on the Austrians.

A taste of what the Austrians were experiencing was delivered to the French at the Battle of Nuremburg (22 October 1849) where the Prussian guns horrifically mauled the French infantry as they attempted to storm the Prussian defensive line and break the siege of the Barvarian city . Marshal Cousin-Mountauban, a hero of the Algerian war was caught unprepared by the firepower of the enemy and only his decisive use of cavalry saved the day (if the artilleryman was the crack Prussian soldier of the campaign, the French could be justly proud of their horse.

Battle of Nuremburg.jpg

The Battle of Nuremburg, 22 October 1849.

One front where French superiority was unchallenged was at sea: the Escadre de l'Atlantique hoisted anchor in Brest at the start of the war and blockaded first Hannover, then through the Baltic and with discrete Danish support, the Prussian coast itself. There had been fears raised in the Chamber of Deputies about leaving Normandy and Brittany undefended against a British invasion but Bonaparte felt it a risk worth taking, shrewdly suspecting the British had no appetite for another duel with France - at least not yet. For the French captains and admirals the Prussian navy was a paltry force of converted merchantmen that skulked in their home ports while French men o'war in full sail glided past in easy view of the coast. Blockade proved dull but it was effective; in the last six months of 1849 Prussian overseas trade was swept from the oceans. The British and Swedes were quietly neutral, the Danes unashamedly pro-French, holding the Prussians responsible for the pan-German revolution that had seized power in Holenstein just before the war. Russia alone was still able to easily trade with Prussia but the Emperor Nicholas was not an easy friend to live with and in any case feared the French navy to much intervene.

By the end of May 1850 half of Westphalia was in French hands and there were no significant Prussian forces west of Erfurt. The lesser Germanies had been defeated in the field and with French soldiers in the famous university town of Göttingen Hannover, the strongest Prussian ally, was almost out of the war. However troubling news was coming from the east; after initial successes the Austrian army had experienced titanic defeats at Prussian hands. In his letters home Guizot admitted that a mood of defeatism seemed to be flooding Vienna, and that unless the French intervened to save their tottering ally the Austrians would sue for peace. Needless to say such a move would be disastorous to France. There was little doubt in Paris that France could defeat Prussia alone, but at what further cost? Realistically the French would have to make peace, leaving Austria fatally undermined and France without a friend amongst the Great Powers.

The Prince Royal and Bonaparte were of one mind: Austria must saved. Time for the French army to move east.

Western Front May 1850.jpg

The situation in the west, May 1850.

[1] The Conservatives, and therefore Peel, are still in power in Britain. I'll try and go deeper into what's going on abroad in a later post.

[2] I do have a slight lead in military technology.
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guillec87 & Viden: Well, I suppose the wheel is still in spin. Better than exile no? :)

Nikolai: Now there is an interesting idea... :D

Specialist290: Thanks! Hopefully it was a plausible development, even if an unexpected one. :) I had plans to explore this further but suddenly had a major war on my lap!

ImperatorGuigui: You said it!

Jape: Louis-Napoleon has sworn his loyalty (at least for now). as for Italy the French, distracted elsewhere, have paid little attention to it. I predict that will change after the war however.

Le_Carabinier: That is a very good point....

On a general note I'd like to apologise for taking so long with this update. Alas real life has been sinking it's fangs to me recently. I'll try and be more frequent from now on. :)
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Glad to see you back in action, Ross :) I sympathize about real life woes; don't feel too bad about doing what needs to be done. Glad to hear you plan on being around more, though.

Looks like the war is getting down to the wire, here. The French, for their part, seem to have performed quite admirably, despite those murderous casualty rates -- if I'm interpreting those two screenshots correctly, your armies lost almost as many men as the other armies' total forces! :eek:

I suppose that, at this point, the real question is whether the French reach Berlin before the Prussians reach Vienna.
the war seems to be going well for the moment... I hope... I mean, I'm affraid... the Bonapartist would try some move
Glad to see you back. You're not late, don't worry. Hope you're alright.

The war seems going well for you, but unfortunately not for your allies. Hopefully, Austria will hold on long enough for you to help them (yay I want to see French soldiers in Berlin !! :p ).
Ah the age old problem of you winning and your ally getting the snot kicked out of it.

Will you have time to save Austria?
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Marshal Hamelin.jpg

Marshal Napoléon Hamelin.

Part Seventeen - The East

Initially the war had gone well for Austria and her allies among the small German states. Prussia (correctly) saw France as the greater threat and had positioned much of her army in Westphalia and the other western provinces. By the end of 1849 the situation had changed; the Austrians and Bavarians were advancing deep into Prussian territory and Berlin itself was coming under threat. The situation was so dire that King Frederick William and his family were evacuated to Königsberg. The Prussian General Staff was faced with unpalatable choice of abandoning the western provinces to the French (there could be no realistic possibility of Hanover fighting on against France unaided) or sacrificing Silesia and Brandenburg. Naturally there could be only one decision.

The Austrian Army of 1849-50 (the "Imperial and Royal Army") was nominally the third largest in Europe after Russia and France. Unfortunately it was far stronger on paper than in the field; officers were invariably German speaking, with little understanding of or affinity for their multifarious conscripts. The Hungarians, previously a core component of the Army, were distrusted and disaffected after the revolution of 1848 (a constant problem dealing with the French were popular opinion had been overwhelmingly pro-Hungarian in 1848.) Corruption and cronyism were rife and the General Staff was considered the worst in Europe. Weapons and tactics were woefully outdated, unchanged almost from the days of the Emperor Napoleon. The soldiers of the Hapsburgs fought as bravely as any other but with few exceptions they were badly led, badly equipped and badly trained.

In contrast the Barvarian Army was one of the finest on the continent, let down only by inferior numbers and a streak of conservatism in the officer corps that discouraged innovation. French liaison officers often bitterly resented Austrian postings while lavishing praise on their Bavarian allies. It was the Barvarians that came closest to taking Berlin while the Austrians concentrated on Silesia.

From his post in Vienna Monsieur Guizot continued to send weekly letters to Paris reporting on the Austrian mood. The French minister found the Hapsburg court a sullen and fatalistic place where his bourgeoisie background and his Protestant faith were double marks against him. He may also have been suspected of Hungarian sympathies which did nothing to endear him to Emperor Franz Joseph. Nevertheless he was a shrewd observer and during 1850 he noticed a steady erosion of confidence in the Austrian court. While battlefield successes temorarily reversed the Viennese gloom he informed Bonaparte that left to their own devices the Austrians would quickly make a peace with Prussia, even on unfavourable terms. Naturally France had not sacrificed so much to let that happen so the Austrians would get their victory, even if the French had to carry them to the finishing line.

Battle of Kustrin.jpg

The Battle of Küstrin (17 July 1850). The largest battle of the war - though not the last, or even the bloodiest.

For the French this stage of the war, lasting into 1851, would be even more bloody than the campaign in the West. The famous Prussian artillery proved nearly invincible once again, especially as the French were generally faced with the thankless job of trying to take a defended position. At first things however went well at: Küstrin (17 July 1850) a combined Austro-French force defeated the Prussians. A week later Berlin fell to the Austrians (the Bavarians had been forced to break off the first siege of the city.) With the Prussian royals and government in Königsberg this was not the decisive blow it seemed on paper but it did raise hopes in France. When King Louis-Philippe died on 26 August the end appeared in sight. Hannover fell to the French on 12 September. [1]

Then it began to slip away. On 27 September General Leroy Courbet and 18,000 French soldiers were trapped at Opplen and forced to surrender. The exact events that led to this disaster are disputed but the Prussians under von Sach had managed to recover from their mauling at Küstrin far faster than expected. Courbet had expected von Sachs to move on to try and retake Berlin and his own force had been planned as a reserve to reinforce General Adolphe Caillard. Instead they were surprised at the swift recovery of the Prussians. It was at Opplen that von Sach's unleashed the largest concentration of field artillery known. Over the following months it would be this same weight of cannon that shattered the Bavarians and Austrians beyond repair - and came close to doing the same to the French.

Lola Montez.jpg

Lola Montez, the woman whose beauty (nearly) caused an international incident.

Marshal Napoléon Hamelin, who had won his spurs as a young man in Algeria had become the overall commander of the French armies in 1850. In Paris he was best known for his legendary charm with the opposite sex, though he had recently left the courtesans of Europe heartbroken by his dedication to the Irish beauty Lola Montez, former mistress of Ludwig of Bavaria. The affair itself, which nearly led to an open rupture with Bavaria and a flurry of letters to stop the French general and the Bavarian ex-king dueling briefly overshadowed the war in the popular press in Paris and London. As one rather ungallant wit put it 'the courtesan conquered the conqueror'. Nevertheless Hamelin was a conqueror. As he informed the King, Austria would never be safe unless Prussian power was decisively broken. The fall of Berlin to the Bavarians relatively early in the war, and it's subsequent recapture by the Prussians had illustrated that the enemy would have to be beaten in open battle.

It was Hamelin's unflinching dedication to hunting down the Prussian field armies that would finally force the Prussians to terms in October 1851. [2]

Those terms would be French. By late 1851 the French Government had demands of their own, beyond the simple rescue of Austria. Their sights were set along the Rhine.

[1] I will be dealing with the death of King Louis-Philippe in the next chapter, don't worry!

[2] Hamelin, as long time readers will know, fought in both Algeria and the Ottoman Empire and is my second most prestigious general. I mentioned the Lola Montez connection in his first appearance at which time I had no idea I'd fight a war allied with Bavaria!

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Specialist290: It was in fact the plucky Bavarians who took Berlin (though they were quickly driven out). Yes those casualty rates were awful - the Prussians, unsurprisingly, had some great leaders!

Zzzzz...: Hah! :D Well, I try to oblige!

The Number 9:
Happily yes I am alright. I have been busy trying to write a novel, which has been creatively draining but still a pleast experience. :)

BBBD316: I hope so! I literally had to destroy every Prussian army to make sure the Austrians wouldn't simply fold.
Ah, Oppeln, the ignominious sucker-punch that tarnishes an otherwise hard-fought victory. It didn't end up altering the outcome of the war decisively, but I'm sure it must have been a rather sharp blow to French martial prowess. Unless he has some pretty potent connections in the government, I'd imagine Courbet can look forward to spending his next assignment as far away from civilization as the War Ministry can manage.

And it's rather amusing to see Europe's most famous actress-turned-royal-mistress manage to accomplish what thousands of enemy soldiers have undoubtedly sought all this time -- getting Hamelin flat on his back ;)

And finally, I wonder how Louis-Philippe's passing is going to affect the dynamics of the Bourbon-Bonaparte coalition, both in the political and personal realms.
Just caught up with the AAR! From the war against Britain, intervention in Brazil and Egypt, conquests in Algeria, nomination of Bonaparte and now victory against Prussia, it has been a great story so far!

Now France will hopefully to reclaim some land around the Rhine, to get those natural borders Bonapartists are so found of. I suspect Louis-Napoléon won't be as cautious as the executive was against Britain, especially given the threat Prussia and the German unification presents. But at the same time the internal balance of power might be shifting with the death of Louis-Philippe, so that could also have an impact upon the terms of peace.
uhmmmm two more Oppel and I'm seeing a Bonaparte sitting on the throne
Time to humilate the Prussians and take some industrial heartland!