The Storm Breaks.

SPRING 1756:
At the beginning of 1756, Frederick II of Prussia could count on a formal alliance with Great Britain, and his arch-enemy Maria Theresa had similar guarantees from Louis XV in Versailles, and from the Elector of Saxony.
As Europe slipped into war, the list of other powers, major and minor dragged into one or the other of the two alliance blocks grew with alarming speed.
Initially, the diplomatic victories were all Prussian. In March, after reaching an agreement with Prussia on the future dismemberment of the Polish Commonwealth, the Empress Elizabeth threw in her lot with Frederick, and concluded an alliance with Berlin. The same month, the Dutch Republic signed a pact with Great Britain. In the War of Austrian Succession, both powers had fought alongside Austria to keep the French out of the Austrian Netherlands. In this effort they had been largely unsuccessful courtesy of the genius of France's Marshal Saxe, but the allies had been rescued by French generosity at the Peace of Aix-La-Chappelle. Louis XV, to the disgust of his people had handed back all of Saxe's conquests.
Still, neither Britain or Holland could countenance a French conquest of the low countries, but now Louis was allied with their Austrian rulers and thus there was nothing to stop him marching in if he so wished. In the face of this, an Anglo-Dutch alliance seemed the only option. In a matter of weeks Austria and France had seen the number of major powers arrayed against them, increase from two to four.
Prime Minister Pitt's government went further in their efforts to undermine France. French Hugenots were recruited from Normandy to bolster British manpower at the cost of France, and (less successful) attempts were made to use the profligacy of Louis' court to turn the population against him.
In April, Spain, alarmed by the Anglo-Dutch alliance against France activated the Bourbon Family Compact and declared war on both Protestant powers. This news caused a collapse of confidence in Britain's North American colonies, and they began stockpiling resources to protect against a feared Spanish assault from the Caribbean, depriving London of immense amounts of revenue.
Influenced in part by Austrian armies on his border, the Elector of Bavaria declared for Maria Theresa, and before the end of April Denmark concluded an alliance with Holland, putting much needed additional ships, and men into Dutch service.
The European map at the start of Spring 1756.

The World map at the start of Spring 1756.

It was in April that the first actual hostilities began. Elizabeth's armies moved south and invaded the Khanate of the Crimea. The Crimean field armies were shattered in battle outside Odessa, but the capture of the city itself proved far more taxing. The first Russian assault on the walls met with failure, and General Apraxin's army began digging parallels and settling in for a siege.
Versailles' top strategic priority in Europe was to link up with Austria. With Bavaria now formally in the Catholic camp all that was required was the conquest of Swabia. The French indeed planned for a Spring campaign to accomplish just that goal, but the French general D'Estrees vacillated and held back half of his force. The remainder was still enough to drive the Swabian mercenary troops away, but Saarbrucken, like Odessa, managed to hold against the invaders, repelling two French assaults by the end of May.
Frederick himself, decided upon Swedish Pomerania as his first target. Seizing it would bring another nation into the enemy alliance, but it would "close the back door" into Prussia, and allow him to concentrate on Austria.
The Swedes had planned to defend their beach-head across the Baltic but poor intelligence led to them being surprised by Frederick's invasion. No Swedish armies were deployed outside Scandinavia, when the Prussians stormed the walls of Straslund (at the second attempt) on April 24th, completing the conquest of the province.
Another successful conquest occurred in May. Within days of concluding an alliance with Holland, a Danish fleet left Copenhagen carrying an expeditionary force bound for the French territory of Senegal in West Africa. Arriving there towards the end of May the Danes captured Dakar after two assaults, supported by naval bombardment, and raised the Danish flag over their nation's first African colony.
The Danish Expedition seizes Senegal from the French.

The Spanish Caribbean Fleet sailed across the Atlantic during the Spring, heading back to the Iberian peninsular. Spain's Mediterranean Fleet conveyed another army from Majorca to Minorca in April and managed to wrest it back from Britain after a two week siege.
The reconquista of Minorca.

Finally, at the epicenter of the European conflict Maria Theresa's armies began concentrating in Bohemia under FML Browne. Bavarian troops arrived around Prague to bolster Browne's ranks, but the Saxon contingent refused to abandon their lands, and remained at Dresden.

SUMMER 1756:

Wasting little time, in June the Danish Expeditionary Force re-embarked at Dakar and sailed South. A two month campaign saw the local tribes scattered and the Danish flag flying all along the Gold Coast, much to the delight of the Danes' Dutch allies.
The Dutch themselves concentrated two fleets in the Indian Ocean, where they combined with a British Fleet to try and cut off the French possessions on the Indian sub-continent. A French fleet had slipped out of Brest in March carrying an army. This fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope and in July, somehow managed to evade the Anglo-Dutch squadrons and arrive in South Carnatic on the Indian east coast. Upon receiving news of this "glorious reinforcement", French agents across India went into action and raised native forces against the British and their Dutch allies. A large native army attempted to storm Madras in August but the British garrison repelled the assault, and held out against the subsequent siege throughout the Summer.
The struggle for India.

Spain's Caribbean fleet completed its trans-atlantic voyage, and docked in Corunna towards the end of June where it promptly began taking the Spanish Army of Galicia aboard for transfer to the new world. The Mediterranean Fleet conveyed the re-conquerors of Minorca back to Majorca where, in August they received word that the British navy had abandoned Gibraltar. This was indeed the case, the British vessels based at Gibraltar left in early July arriving at Bremerhaven in the Electorate of Hanover the following month, but leaving open the Straits of Gibraltar for the Spanish (or anyone else for that matter) to transit through without fear of interception.
In August the Saxons finally marched south to join Browne in Bohemia bringing Austria's main field army to almost 100,000 men.
At the end of the month the Russians finally captured the ruins of Odessa, completing the conquest of the Crimean Khanate, but they had required Dutch subsidies to bring the long, and bloody siege to a conclusion.

FALL 1756:
In September Spain's Caribbean Fleet set off from Corunna headed back to Guatemala with the former Army of Galicia, now re-named the Army of New Spain, onboard. The voyage was completed safely in November.
The Spanish Mediterranean Fleet slipped through the unguarded Straits of Gibraltar in September liberators of Minorca aboard, now led by General Alvarez, and arrived in the Caribbean in November completing the concentration of all Spain's naval power into that region.
Bourbon forces massing in the Caribbean.

Madrid's allies to the north continued to have a much less successful time of things. The epic siege of Saarbrucken continued through November. The defenders, apparently determined to hold out to the last man, repulsed two more French assaults in the course of the Fall, and by the end of November they had frustrated all attempts at capture by D'Estrees army for no less than seven months. By this point D'Estrees had concentrated seemingly overwhelming force against the defenders, but to no avail, and by the time Winter weather brought the assaults to a halt, French losses had mounted alarmingly.
In September, Browne finally judged the time was right to launch the liberation of Silesia. The main army advanced across the Bohemian mountain passes to attack from the west, while a second column, under O'Donnell raced north from Vienna, much to the surprise of the Prussian defenders under FML Schwerin who were, understandably focussed on the approach of Browne's host.
Silesia was well protected with fortresses, and Browne was forced to detach four fifths of his Bavarian contingent (judged to be his least reliable troops) to screen them as he pushed back the massively outnumbered Schwerin.
The Prussians gave ground until September 18th, when they turned at bay around the town of Gollerwitz.
The odds facing them were daunting. Schwerin fielded 34,800 men. Browne's army, even after detachments left at border fortresses numbered 91,200.

ORDERS OF BATTLE: GOLLERWITZ, SEPTEMBER 18TH, 1756

AUSTRIAN HAUPTARMEE (FML BROWNE) - 91,200

1st Column (Althann)
5 Brigades Austrian Musketeers
2 Brigades Austrian Hussars

2nd Column  (O'Donnell)
5 Brigades Austrian Musketeers
2 Brigades Austrian Hussars

3rd Column (Stolberg)
4 Brigades Austrian Grenadiers
2 Brigades Austrian Musketeers
2 Brigades Austrian Hussars

4th Column (Sprecher)
4 Brigades Saxon Musketeers
2 Brigades Bavarian Infantry

5th Column (Solms)
3 Brigades Saxon Musketeers

6th Column (Seherr)
4 Brigades Austrian Cuirassiers
2 Brigades Austrian Chevaulegers

7th Column (Buccow)
2 Brigades Austrian Cuirassiers
3 Brigades Austrian Dragoons

8th Column (Berlichingen)
1 Brigade Saxon Cuirassiers
1 Brigade Saxon Chevaulegers
2 Brigades Austrian Dragoons

PRUSSIAN ARMY OF SILESIA (FML SCHWERIN) 34,800

1st Column (Platen)
3 Brigades Prussian Grenadiers
2 Brigades Prussian Musketeers

2nd Column (Hulsen)
2 Brigades Prussian Musketeers
3 Brigades Prussian Fusileers

Cavalry Reserve (Schonlach)
1 Brigade Prussian Garde du Corps
1 Brigade Prussian Cuirassiers
4 Brigades Prussian Hussars
1 Brigade Prussian Freikorps Cavalry









Comments

Popular posts from this blog

FALL 1758.

What now?