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AxolotlKnight

Second Lieutenant
Mar 16, 2019
100
12
Vanguards of the Revolution - A Revolutionary France AAR


"By sealing our work with our blood, we may see at least the bright dawn of universal happiness "
Maximilien Robespierre



Welcome to my newest AAR and my first for EUIV, Vanguards of the Revolution. As the name suggests, this is a play through that follows Revolutionary France from 1792 onwards. I have not fully decided which type of writing style I am going to stick to, so expect some change throughout my writing of this. Also, the upload schedule may be a bit chaotic and inconsistent, mainly due to current events. Anyway, thank you for reading and enjoy.

Chapters
Chapter 1: The Birth of A Republic
Chapter 2: Suchet's Battles
Chapter 3: The King's Head
Chapter 4: The War Intensifies
 
Last edited:
Chapter 1: The Birth of a Republic New

AxolotlKnight

Second Lieutenant
Mar 16, 2019
100
12

Chapter 1: The Birth of a Republic


1594418261608.png
The Storming of the Bastille, 1789

The fall of King Louis XVI of France on the 10th of August 1792 led to the creation of the French Republic, and the victory of the common people. The Ancien Régime, the rulers of France for hundreds of years, was cast down amidst an orgy of revolutionary fervour. For the first time in its history, the people of France were the masters of their destiny, free from the monarchy, the church, and other forms of tyranny. The air on that fateful day in Paris was of jubilation and of hope, two things that the poor of France had been denied for too long. It seemed on that day anything would be possible, and that the tide of the revolution would spread across the globe as the citizens of oppressed nations revolted against their masters.


236850_20200609104459_1.png

The situation was not as rosy by September of 1792. The fall of King Louis and the beginning of the destruction of the French Nobility had united the monarchies of Europe against the fledgling republic and had facilitated a call to arms. Austria, Prussia, Sardinia-Piedmont, and Great Britain, along with their allies and subject states, declared war on France and prepared to end the revolution before it had a chance to spread. The French army was in a sorry state, with much of its leadership had been either executed, arrested, or fled. Worse was the lack of uniforms and weapons, as well as trained and experienced soldiers. All this spelt out an utter defeat for the revolutionaries. However, the miraculous French victory at the Battle of Valmy on the 20th of September revived the hopes of the young Republic and was a psychological blow to their enemies. The victory at Valmy bought the slither of extra time the French needed, and allowed the National Convention, the government of France, to begin to restructure the army and get the much-needed supplies.



1594418106192.png
The Battle of Valmy, 1792


Even as the armies of their enemies paused their advance, the National Convention began to fracture from within. The two major parties, the Girondists and the Montagnards (Jacobins for the most part), had long been opposed to each other over the methods of enacting the goals of the revolution. The Girondists wanted to spread the revolution across Europe, devolve power to local administrations, and to put in place American style systems of free-speech and freedom of the press. The Jacobins thought more radically than the Girondists and envisioned that a true republic that represented the people could only be achieved through a strong central government that ensured that the revolution continued unabated, by force if necessary. The Girondist's main power base was within the middle and upper classes who had supported the revolution, while the Jacobins power came mainly from the poorest in society, especially those within the cities. Coupled with their alliance with the sans-culotte and their larger support base within Paris itself, the Jacobins rose to become the most influential of the two parties by 1792.

The victory at Valmy provided enough respite for the National Convention to deal with matters other than war, from the deposition of the King to discussions and debates about the need of a head of state to oversee the bureaucracy of the republic. There were those across party lines who opposed and supported the idea, though by the 21st of September the wind was firmly blowing in favour of those who wanted a head of state. This was due to tacit support of the army, who had begun to grow weary of the Convention's lack of cohesion when it came to matters of war. When the National Convention voted on the matter, the supporters won by a slim majority, having been opposed by an even more radical arm of the Jacobin Club, which was led by Maximilien Robespierre, the man who had helped manufacture the storming of the Tuileries Palace that had led to the downfall of King Louis. In one simultaneous declaration, the monarchy was officially abolished, the seat of the 'Consul of France' was established, and the French Republic declared.



1594418192725.png
Maximilien Robespierre


Despite the creation of the consular chair, it would sit empty for a month as the Convention deliberated who wanted to fill the illustrious position. Many of the more prominent members of the Convention immediately shirked such a duty, not wanting to have the responsibility of leading the young, fragile republic during a time of crisis whilst others, like Robespierre and Danton were opposed to the idea of it altogether. Some suggested that someone in the army should be placed in the position due to the country being at war, however, this was eventually dropped as many feared the possible abuses of power such a leader could cause. The solution would come from one of the more recent additions to the Convention, a physicist called Lazare Carnot.

Carnot had been a supporter of the revolution from its beginning, being a member of the Legislature until it’s transformation into the National Convention and helping to hasten along with the establishment of the French Republic. A shrewd man, Carnot made no open declarations of allegiance to any of the squabbling parties in the Convention, though did often align with the Montagnards when it came to his voting record. This association was supported by his fraternisation with Jacobins before the revolution began. Like the majority of the Convention, Carnot had voted to abolish the monarchy, however, he did oppose the idea of a head of state, claiming that “replacing a crown with a cockade makes no difference if the man who leads still plays god.” Despite that, it was he who would discover the man who would become the First Consul of the French Republic.

Phillipe de Bouissieu was not the obvious choice for Consul. Before the revolution, he was a Captain in the Royal French Army and was considered by his superiors as a hothead who lacked any strategic and tactical prowess, though was well trained in armed combat. Sensing the way, the wind was turning, Phillipe joined up with Marquis Lafayette’s National Guard at the start of the revolution, before being transferred to the frontlines when the War of the Coalition began. By 1792, Bouissieu had risen to the rank of Colonel, and had been involved in four major battles against Coalition forces, one of which was the Miracle at Valmy. He had been sent back to Paris to recover from a wound in the leg when he met Carnot. At the time Carnot did not have a positive response when he met Bouissieu, calling him a “talentless buffoon.” Either way, by mid-October, Bouissieu was at the height of Parisian society, sharing his stories of Valmy to the new bourgeois leadership. It was one such social engagement that Carnot realised that Bouissieu was the “perfect sheep to place in the damned seat of Consul.” Though he never elaborated on those thoughts in his memoirs, we can guess that he saw Phillipe as a sacrificial lamb so to speak if things went wrong, he could be easily disposed of. It didn’t take much to convince the leaders of the Montagnards and the Girondists to side Carnot’s plan, and so, to Bouissieu’s surprise and delight, he was elected as the First Consul of France.



236850_20200609104513_1.png

 

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Nikolai

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Well, that is some poor stats. :p

Good start to what I am sure will prove to be a great story! :)
 

stnylan

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So can the Republic a Republic remain?
 

AxolotlKnight

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Mar 16, 2019
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Well, that is some poor stats. :p

Good start to what I am sure will prove to be a great story! :)
Thanks!

And yeah, those stats are pretty dreadful.

So can the Republic a Republic remain?
A good question, for it seems like it's enemies are at all sides.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Tommy4ever

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Interesting! You don't often see people going for the later starting dates, and I've always been interested in this era. Looking forward to see where you take our young Republic!
 
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HistoryDude

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Interested to see where this goes...

On the one hand, the Consul's total incompetence means he probably won't overextend the Republic like Napoleon did, and he probably won't be able to gain absolute power.

Subbed!
 
Chapter 2: Suchet's Battles New

AxolotlKnight

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Mar 16, 2019
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Chapter II: Suchet's Battles


One of the first major tests for the young republic was that of maintaining its survival. While certain aspects of the government had been settled, such as the establishment of the National Convention and the seat of Consul, there was still much civil strife in France. Between the squabbling, republican factions, and the burgeoning Royalist threat, the republic in November 1792 seemed anything but secure. This is to say nothing of the continuing war against the Coalition that had united against them. While Valmy had added some much-needed morale, to many it looked like that was just the exception to the rule. Indeed, since then France had suffered a slew of small defeats and had been sent packing from the Alsace- Lorraine region. To stop the Coalition army from marching into the heartlands of France, the Army of the North was brought down from Flanders and combined with the remnants of the Army of the Centre. Command of this new army was given over to Louis-Gabriel Suchet, a gifted but relatively young officer had joined the French army only three years earlier.



1595281789481.png
Louis-Gabriel Suchet



The newly minted Armée de la République marched east towards the French border and met the Coalition army outside the city of Strasbourg on the 17th November. The city had been placed under siege by the Coalition, who wanted to take it as a staging post for further incursions into France. The army of the Coalition was made up of 65,000 men, half of which came from a slew of small German principalities and city-states, whilst the other half were from Austria. The leader of the Coalition forces was Ludwig Eins, a well-regarded general who hailed from Baden, and who had been placed under the command of the patchwork of armies by the Austrian Emperor Franz II himself. Arrayed against him was the undernourished and underequipped French, whose only advantage was in numbers, which was around 86,000 men.

It was in the morning fog that surrounded Strasbourg that the French started their advance, making sure to use the poor visibility to their advantage. Inside the fog, separate battles took place between disorderly ranks of soldiers, who were both tired from sleep deprivation and disorientated by the fog. It would be the French who pierced the fog veil first, taking the Coalition forces by surprise, causing the rear guard to break, and eventually leading to a collapse of their battle lines. This was when the beleaguered defenders of Strasbourg launched their attack, striking out from the city and cutting down any German foes they could find. Though fighting would continue for most of the day, it was clear that the French had won. The butcher’s bill was high, the French had suffered around 11,000 casualties, whilst Coalition casualties numbered around 22,000, making it the bloodiest battle of the war so far.



236850_20200609110020_1.png


In Paris, Suchet was hailed as a hero of the republic, and many began to believe the war was winnable. The National Convention, with the support of Consul Bouissieu, passed a motion which declared that a memorial would be built to honour the victories of Valmy and Strasbourg. There was also a push by some members of the Convention, particularly from the growing militarist group, that Suchet should be named as a full General of France. This was voted down by the Jacobins, who suspected that the militarists' intentions were not in the best interest to the people of France, but rather to themselves. Despite this, Suchet was bolstered by both his victory and the support of some of the notable men within the Convention, and so planned a swift counterattack into Germany to capitalise on the Coalition loss.

Much to the chagrin of his troops, Suchet’s march in Germany began on the 24th of December, leaving no time for Christmas celebrations. His reasoning behind this was to catch the Coalition unawares, as some of them may have considered such a day as sacrosanct, and as such would not fight. It would be in the later hours of the 25th December when Suchet got word that an Austrian army, that was 60,000 strong, had crossed into Baden, led by Austria’s best general, Archduke Charles. It seemed that the Austrians had thought the same as Suchet, and so had decided to launch their offensive. After a few days of manoeuvring in the Badenian hills, the two armies met outside the town of Baden-Baden on the 1st of January 1793. Much like the Battle of Strasbourg, the fighting was brutal and mostly hand-to-hand due to the intense frozen fog. Bloodstained the snow as men and horses were slain by the thousand. An Austrian sergeant called it “the most beautiful battle I had ever been in. The crimson of our blood proved to be the perfect dye for the white canvas that covered the forests of Baden. Frenchmen and Austrian, bound in the same, violent, piece of art. It was the closest we ever came to peace.” After a chaotic day of battle, Archduke Charles called off his attack and led an ordered retreat across the Badenian border, leaving the small principality to the French. Despite being a victory for the French, it had been a pyrrhic one. While 18,000 Austrians had been killed or wounded, the French had suffered 21,000 casualties, leaving Suchet’s once-mighty 81,000 strong army at barely over 50,000. Most of those left were also suffering from hyperthermia and frostbite due to the poor state of French uniforms, whilst starvation was setting in because of strained supply lines. A bitter Suchet ordered his Armée de la République to retreat into France for them to lick their wounds.



236850_20200609110249_1.png


The Battle of Baden was officially treated as a spectacular victory in Paris, with the government painting it as a successful repulsion of enemy invaders. Privately the First Consul was furious, for now, the Republic’s manpower was further stretched, and the Austrians had been allowed to retreat with most of their army intact. While Suchet was never publicly reprimanded, his Armée de la République was disbanded, and instead, he was given command of 31,000 troops. Consul Bouissieu gave the role of reforming the army to Lazare Carnot, who had risen in the bureaucracy since the election of Bouissieu a few months previous. Carnot would bring in many new reforms into the army, the majority of which targeted the supply issues hampering the Republic’s military capabilities. His most enduring legacy would be the establishment of conscription, inflating the ranks of the republic to nearly a million men by April 1793. This would be only the beginning of Carnot’s reforms.



1595281834714.png
Lazare Carnot
 

AxolotlKnight

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Mar 16, 2019
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Welp. They're doomed.
Oh ye of little faith ;)

Interesting! You don't often see people going for the later starting dates, and I've always been interested in this era. Looking forward to see where you take our young Republic!
Thank you for reading!

Interested to see where this goes...

On the one hand, the Consul's total incompetence means he probably won't overextend the Republic like Napoleon did, and he probably won't be able to gain absolute power.

Subbed!
Thank you for joining this new adventure!
 

stnylan

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Suchet did remarkably well, all things considered.
 

RossN

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Very cool choice of start and country, loving this so far! :)
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Oh ye of little faith ;)
Hey now, my comment was made before Louis "South German Slaughterin'" Suchet came into the picture!

Lovely update. I can picture all these campaigns happening. A pity the offensive into Germany could not have played out a bit more.
 

Le Jones

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This is wonderful, @AxolotlKnight - my favourite period covered in an AAR (as other have said, it is rare to see, particularly as EU4 doesn't do it very well).

I look forward to seeing how the varying coalitions continue to try to strangle the young republic!
 

HistoryDude

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Well, France is doing well - so far. The divisions within the Republic could prove disastrous…

Also, quick nitpick: “Austrian Emperor”? The Austrian Empire was founded after the HRE was dissolved... In 1806.

Speaking of the HRE, are the French going to attempt to destroy it?
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Also, quick nitpick: “Austrian Emperor”? The Austrian Empire was founded after the HRE was dissolved... In 1806.
After some extensive research (eg., running to Wikipedia for a few seconds), it does seem like "Austrian Emperor" was used before the Napoleonic Wars, albeit in reference to the owner of the monarchical lands, not necessarily the country.

Or maybe Franz II is just ahead of the game. Gotta keep people on their toes.
 

AxolotlKnight

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Suchet did remarkably well, all things considered.
Yeah he did, it's a shame that he had no reinforcements to back him up (mainly due to player error :D )

Very cool choice of start and country, loving this so far! :)
Thanks! Welcome aboard.

Hey now, my comment was made before Louis "South German Slaughterin'" Suchet came into the picture!

Lovely update. I can picture all these campaigns happening. A pity the offensive into Germany could not have played out a bit more.
In hindsight Suchet (me :eek:) went on the offensive far too early. Though he is a great general, he did not have the troops needed to push further into Germany. Don't worry though, the Suchet-Meister will have his day!

This is wonderful, @AxolotlKnight - my favourite period covered in an AAR (as other have said, it is rare to see, particularly as EU4 doesn't do it very well).

I look forward to seeing how the varying coalitions continue to try to strangle the young republic!
Thank you!

And yeah, I am really interested in this period too. I do wish the mechanics played out a bit better in the late game of EUIV, but for me it provides a nice canvass for my own narrative.

Well, France is doing well - so far. The divisions within the Republic could prove disastrous…

Also, quick nitpick: “Austrian Emperor”? The Austrian Empire was founded after the HRE was dissolved... In 1806.

Speaking of the HRE, are the French going to attempt to destroy it?
When I wrote it I more meant the 'Austrian Emperor of the HRE', though I realise that I really didn't make that clear at all in the text:eek:.

Thanks for the correction :)

Or maybe Franz II is just ahead of the game. Gotta keep people on their toes.
Franz is a little prankster, one day he is putting whoopee cushions underneath the Prussian ambassador's saddle, the next he is declaring himself Emperor and declaring war on upstart republics.
 
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Henry v. Keiper

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Franz is a little prankster, one day he is putting whoopee cushions underneath the Prussian ambassador's saddle, the next he is declaring himself Emperor and declaring war on upstart republics.
I can just tell he's gonna be a HUGE hit with Talleyrand...
 
Chapter 3:The King's Head New

AxolotlKnight

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Chapter III: The King's Head


1595632908530.png

Louis XVI, former King of France



Since the official deposition of Louis XVI on the 21st of September 1792, that the fate of the King had been much discussed by the members of the Convention. The common thinking since his arrest in August was that Louis should be considered a hostage, one which would be used as leverage against the autocratic monarchies that were currently waging war against France. The Girondists and the militarists were the ones who put forward this idea, however, they lacked the support of the Montagnards, most of whom were Jacobins, who demanded that the King be put on trial for his abuses against the people. Initially, the Girondist way of thinking won out as the National Convention was pre-occupied with trying to find a new leader for the newly established republic. However, by late October the winds of thought began to blow in a different direction. The victory at Valmy, and the continued success of the Italian Campaign, had led many within the government to realise that perhaps their position was not only far more tenable than before but that they could thrive with the last vestiges of the Ancien Régime out of the way.

The change of thought would arrive in full force when in early November when Consul Bouissieu demanded that the King’s iron chest, which held many of his private documents, be opened. The locksmith who created the chest, Francois Germain, was only too happy to oblige. The revelations made after the chest were damming. They not only revealed the King’s secret support for the Royalist rebellions across France but also showed that Mirabeau, a ‘father’ of the Revolution who had died a year previously, had secretly been taking money from the King in an attempt at negotiating on his behalf with his fellow revolutionaries. Others were implicated as well, the most notable being Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, the French ambassador to Britain, and Lafayette, the former commander of the National Guard. Almost immediately many of the men listed in the letters were arrested, though Talleyrand and Lafayette both escaped this due to the former being in London at the time, and the latter being a prisoner of the Austrians.



1595633081409.png
Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau

Once these revelations were made public, many within the National Convention called for Louis’ head. The fiercest and most concise condemnation of the King came from a young deputy called Louis Antione de Saint-Just, an up and coming Jacobin who was known as a firebrand by his fellow deputies. In regarding what should be done about the King’s treachery, he said “I see no middle ground: this man must reign or die! He oppressed a free nation; he declared himself it's enemy; he abused the laws: he must die to assure the repose of the people since it was in his mind to crush the people to assure his own.” The Montagnards were roundly supportive of his motion, with influential Jacobins like Robespierre, Danton, and Murat officially supporting his speech. The Girondists, ever suspicious of the Jacobins, were resistant but knew they had no choice but to put the King to a trial. On the 24th of November, Consul Bouissieu, having been mobbed by Montagnard deputies for weeks over the issue, officially proposed a motion to National Convention which stated that Louis XVI would be put on trial for his crimes against the people of France. The vote won by a landslide, with 739 of the 850 deputies voting in favour.


1595633178024.png
Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

The trial began on the 3rd of December in the sight of all 850 deputies, members of the government, military, and the Consul of the Republic. Introduced to the court as citizen Louis Capet, the former king listened in silence as the charges against him were listed by the President of the Convention, Betrand Barère. At each one, Louis gave half-hearted and weak defences against them, often blaming his advisors and ministers for the crimes he was accused of. The trial went on for over a month, during which the exploits of Suchet’s campaign in South Germany were making the headlines of the Parisian newspapers. It would be on the 14th of January 1793 when the verdict would be decided. Due to the weak defence from the King, the overwhelming evidence of collusion with Royalist causes, and his duplicitous support of the Coalition, the National Convention voted that he was guilty with an absolute majority.

It would be on the 16th of January when the means of his punishment would be decided. While the conviction of the King had been widely supported across the political spectrum, the way the King would be punished was not. The Girondists and militarists wanted to imprison Louis until the end of the war, where further discussions about his punishment would be had. Montagnards were adamant that the King be executed for his crimes, noting that the Royalist counter-revolution would only be emboldened if their king were still alive. As always Consul Bouissieu was indecisive on the matter in his attempt to try and not alienate either side of the Convention. It would be at the suggestion of Barère that the Consul declared that he would support the majority decision in the Convention, a course of action welcomed by all sides. The vote was far closer than most realised, with 361 voted for Louis’ immediate execution, while 360 voted against. Upon seeing the closeness of the vote, Bouissieu once again became unsure about his stance on the issue, and only backed the very slim majority when Barère and Carnot pressured him into doing so.

The King’s sentence was carried out on the 21st of January 1793, after repeated appeal attempts had been rejected. The site of his death would be at the Place de la Révolution, having been renamed from its original title, Place Louis XV. After a procession through Paris, which took around an hour, Louis arrived at the place of his execution. Much to the chagrin of the Jacobins, the King was seen as calm by many observers, who noted his lack of emotion as he walked the steps up to the guillotine. After a short speech, Louis rested his neck onto the guillotine, and with a swift strike from the razor-sharp blade, his head rolled into the basket below. So ended the life of Louis Capet, former King of France, King of the French, and citizen of the French Republic.



1595633323299.png
The execution of Louis Capet
 
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stnylan

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And has the revolution created a martyr?