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  • Napoleon doesn't attack Russia

    And is able to avoid the huge losses in that campaign. What happens next?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Imperial View Post
    And is able to avoid the huge losses in that campaign. What happens next?
    Would there have been any mileage in him turning his attentions back to defeating / invading Britain?
    HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

    "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
      Would there have been any mileage in him turning his attentions back to defeating / invading Britain?
      Sure, if he spent 20 years building a fleet...
      And Spain is still a mess!

      Why not work WITH Russia, and jointly crush the Ottomans? Let the Czar have Constantinople, France gets Greece, and the continent has a land route to outside trade.
      Its what I would have done.
      "Why is the Rum gone?"

      -Captain Jack

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
        Why not work WITH Russia, and jointly crush the Ottomans? Let the Czar have Constantinople, France gets Greece, and the continent has a land route to outside trade.
        Its what I would have done.
        The problem was the British. Napoleon's 'Continental System' was supposed to cut off much of British trade and thus hit them where it would hurt the most. The trouble was that whilst it did dent the British economy it also hurt the Continental economies too. Russia in particular found itself cut off from acquiring manufactured goods and markets for its own raw materials. It left the system because it wasn't in its interests to stay there. This was a direct challenge to Napoleon's position. Had he not confronted Russia in 1812 it seems probable that the Prussians and Austrians would have broken with him in 1813, with British money yet again subsidising their war effort.

        So, as I see it, 1813 in this timeline is little different to the historical one - a major campaign in Germany deciding the face of Europe for years, maybe decades, into the future. Napoleon's position is a little better because he hasn't lost the experienced troops or commanders. The biggest improvement is the cavalry - so many horses and riders perished in 1812 that he could not raise a sufficiently large cavalry contingent in 1813, seriously hindering his army's reconnaissance capabilities as well as the ability to exploit any victories it might achieve. I'm not sure how much of difference it makes overall because Napoleon was past his best and had been since 1809 really, although he was still capable of the occasional flashes of brilliance.
        Signing out.

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        • #5
          Part of the trade problem of the Continetal System was it did not include a effective central bank. One of the British Emipres strengths was that it posessed a centralized banking system enabling it to apply capitol much more efficiently than the fragmented banks of other nations. European merchants and bankers had been indirectly using Britians banks as a central bank for their own transactions. I dont know if Napoleons finance ministers could have created such a thing quickly enough, but that a effective central bank did not exist was another strike against the Continental system.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
            I dont know if Napoleons finance ministers could have created such a thing quickly enough, but that a effective central bank did not exist was another strike against the Continental system.
            Had the French economy been more dynamic prior to the Revolution then the Continental System might have stood a chance of working, but with twenty-plus years of continuous warfare and the upheaval caused by revolution taking their toll it simply could not make up for what was being lost.
            Signing out.

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            • #7
              How many more years do you think Napoleon would have stayed in control if it weren't for those massive losses in Russia?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Imperial View Post
                How many more years do you think Napoleon would have stayed in control if it weren't for those massive losses in Russia?
                If he played his cards right and let's say decided to put a hold on hostilities for a while (10-20 years) the map of Europe would certainly have looked different at the start of WWI.
                "War is sorrowful, but there is one thing infinitely more horrible than the worst horrors of war, and that is the feeling that nothing is worth fighting for..."
                -- Harper's Weekly, December 31, 1864

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Imperial View Post
                  How many more years do you think Napoleon would have stayed in control if it weren't for those massive losses in Russia?
                  One or two.
                  Signing out.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                    One or two.
                    Just one or two? Who would inflict those kind losses on his army in just one or two years?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Imperial View Post
                      Just one or two? Who would inflict those kind losses on his army in just one or two years?
                      That isn't the problem. After all, he raised an army of 400,000 in 1813 and given the logistical constraints that was probably the upper limit. But that was dwarfed by what the Russians, Austrians and Prussians could put into the field. These armies were not the same as the ones Napoleon ran rings around in his early years as emperor and whilst still inferior when gauged man to man their sheer size counted for much. Plus France was close to broke come 1813 making the long-term prospects poor unless Napoleon could force some kind of lasting peace treaty upon his enemies. Previous experiences suggest that was improbable.
                      Signing out.

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                      • #12
                        An alliance with Russia is interesting however. If they could have split the remaining European nations, The Czar would have wasted valuable resources taking them, and Napoleon would have had the troops to really give Wellington grief in Spain. It would also make Russia complicit in the French activities, and that would alienate Britain from Russia, possibly preventing the alliance in 1813.
                        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                          That isn't the problem. After all, he raised an army of 400,000 in 1813 and given the logistical constraints that was probably the upper limit. But that was dwarfed by what the Russians, Austrians and Prussians could put into the field.
                          But with no disastrous campaign in Russia maybe the Austrians wouldn't have turned against him. And since they wouldn't have, that would have kept the Russians reluctant to risk anything.

                          Also I'm not familiar with the details, but I presume most of the ~ 600,000 soldiers he lost in Russia were the veterans he had used in many of his previous battles.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Imperial View Post
                            But with no disastrous campaign in Russia maybe the Austrians wouldn't have turned against him. And since they wouldn't have, that would have kept the Russians reluctant to risk anything.
                            The problem is political. The Czar has just given Napoleon the finger allowing British capital and manufactures to move in and Russian raw materials to move out. The British can provide powerful incentives to the Prussians and Austrians to do the same. In this scenario Napoleon has already allowed Russia to break out of his Continental System, to their benefit, if he allows the other two to do so his authority over Eastern Europe, including the Polish State he created, is lost. His authority over the German Confederation, where Austria and Prussia seek to extend their influence, will be undermined especially as British capital and manufactures are in demand as the smaller German kingdoms seek to industrialise. Napoleon will have to fight in 1813 even if he chooses not to in 1812, he has too much to lose.

                            Also I'm not familiar with the details, but I presume most of the ~ 600,000 soldiers he lost in Russia were the veterans he had used in many of his previous battles.
                            Only about half of that army were French, there was a large Prussian contingent and a sizeable Austrian force under Schwarzenburg. Whereas a lot of the French died many of the foreign troops were captured and repatriated under treaties signed after Napoleon's retreat. Figures vary enormously as to the size of French losses, largely because they vary so much as to the size of the army that invaded (anywhere between 450,000 and 600,000). But 250,000 irrevocable French casualties would seem a reasonable ballpark figure.

                            As an aside, there's a theory that it was Eylau and the campaign in Poland over the Winter of 1806-7 that destroyed the Grande Armee that had comprehensively defeated the Austrians at Austerlitz and the Prussians at Jena-Auerstadt. If you want to examine this idea further there's a fascinating article to be found here http://stinet.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTR...c=GetTRDoc.pdf Napoleon was certainly not the same general after this campaign.
                            Signing out.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                              . I'm not sure how much of difference it makes overall because Napoleon was past his best and had been since 1809 really, although he was still capable of the occasional flashes of brilliance.

                              Did he really decline that much or did his opponents just get better in comparison?
                              Much like happened in WWII. Germany didn’t get worse so much as the Allies got better, so that it appeared the German army declined in quality.
                              Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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