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What if a great commander were leading Early WWI forces?

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  • What if a great commander were leading Early WWI forces?

    You pick the commander and write out your scenario. Dosnt have to be a grand strategy scenario could be just a tactical situation or a single battle. Just go crazy with this. i.e Napoleon commanding a french div. in 1914. R.E. Lee commanding a Brit reg. in the battle of Mons. Simply demonstrate how your chosen commander would overcome the weapons of the time. Or demonstrate how you would addapt and overcome. The only condition is that it remain believable.
    Proud Christian.

    And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement.
    Philippians 1:9

  • #2
    In all fairness I think a subject like this belongs in 'Alternate Timelines' section.
    Signing out.

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    • #3
      It is. Unless my pc is lying to me.
      Proud Christian.

      And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement.
      Philippians 1:9

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by david&joushua View Post
        It is. Unless my pc is lying to me.
        And that wouldn't be very pc would it.

        On topic, I'm not sure that any of the so-called 'great commanders' could have made much difference to the battles of 1914. The decisive factors were logistics and weight of firepower, clever tactical manoeuvres don't seem to make much difference. Men like Frederick. Napoleon, Hannibal and Edward would have been forced to slug it out on a more or less even basis with their less competent brethren. And all that before the war bogged down as we know it did historically.
        Signing out.

        Comment


        • #5
          Baltic invasion

          Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
          On topic, I'm not sure that any of the so-called 'great commanders' could have made much difference to the battles of 1914. The decisive factors were logistics and weight of firepower, clever tactical manoeuvres don't seem to make much difference. Men like Frederick. Napoleon, Hannibal and Edward would have been forced to slug it out on a more or less even basis with their less competent brethren. And all that before the war bogged down as we know it did historically.
          All right , I'll take up the gauntlet and try to present a war winning move.

          Who: A cavalry commander like Budenny or perhaps I should assign Subotai is put in charge of what will be called the Russian Cavalry Army Corps.
          What: The Cavalry Army Corps consists of three to four divisions of Cossacks and light cavalry only.
          Where: these divisions assemble each in a Baltic harbour the moment war is declared and embark in transport ships. All ships of the rebuilt Russian Baltic war fleet escort this invasion fleet in deepest secrecy to the Pomeranian coast, North East of Berlin.
          When: The Cavalry Army Corps lands in the night of 17 August on the Pomeranian coast; the ships return immediately.
          How: the Cossacks and light cavalry divisions live off the land and raid anything in the direction of Berlin. They are to evade battle, just raid, pillage and plunder (classic form of Cossack warfare) and stay away from towns let alone cities. After a week/ ten days of highly mobile guerrilla warfare they start to move to the east, and eventually cross back into their own lines of the First (Rennenkampf) or Second (Samsonov) Army that have moved into East Prussia.

          Mission: the mission is to thoroughly disrupt enemy infrastructure around the enemy capital by blowing up railway bridges, cut telegraph lines, set fire to supply dumps and create as much havoc and mayhem as is humanly possible.

          Commander's Intent: by dropping the equivalent of an Operational Maneuver Group into the enemy heartland the German war effort will be seriously disrupted. The German mobilization schedules will be completely upset by waging a campaign the adversary did not see coming. With 7 German armies in the West and 1 army in the East, the Germans will be badly prepared for this and have to change their plans and preparations accordingly in order to properly protect their capital and heartland. At the same time they still will have to conduct the war as conventionally planned.

          This should have greatly influenced the outcome of the opening campaigns both in East and in West.
          BoRG

          You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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          • #6
            I'd think that after a week of that treatment the Germans would be ready to exterminate everyone east of the Nieman River. They would look on it as the second coming of the Huns and not think of much else but revenge & a bit more.

            There was a second echelon reserve corps & a 'corps' worth of Landwehr brigades set aside as the "Army of the North' in case the Brits raided out of the north sea. That would likely be the first formation arriving to save Berlin & civilization. Then there were three corps size groups of second echelon reserve units parked along the Rhine River as a sort of pool of erzatz corps. Those would have been arriving close behind.

            These groups would have been well equipped with rifles, MG, & the lighter division artillery. Other than the Landwehr they were the reservists in their late 20s & 30s age group. Their main disadvantage would have been the lack of well trained division staff & skeleton corps staff. The heavy artillery they lacked would not have been much use against the light cavalry.

            No doubt a couple cavalry divisions would be included in the later reinforcements from the west.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Major Sennef View Post
              All right , I'll take up the gauntlet and try to present a war winning move.

              Who: A cavalry commander like Budenny or perhaps I should assign Subotai is put in charge of what will be called the Russian Cavalry Army Corps.
              What: The Cavalry Army Corps consists of three to four divisions of Cossacks and light cavalry only.
              Where: these divisions assemble each in a Baltic harbour the moment war is declared and embark in transport ships. All ships of the rebuilt Russian Baltic war fleet escort this invasion fleet in deepest secrecy to the Pomeranian coast, North East of Berlin.
              When: The Cavalry Army Corps lands in the night of 17 August on the Pomeranian coast; the ships return immediately.
              How: the Cossacks and light cavalry divisions live off the land and raid anything in the direction of Berlin. They are to evade battle, just raid, pillage and plunder (classic form of Cossack warfare) and stay away from towns let alone cities. After a week/ ten days of highly mobile guerrilla warfare they start to move to the east, and eventually cross back into their own lines of the First (Rennenkampf) or Second (Samsonov) Army that have moved into East Prussia.

              Mission: the mission is to thoroughly disrupt enemy infrastructure around the enemy capital by blowing up railway bridges, cut telegraph lines, set fire to supply dumps and create as much havoc and mayhem as is humanly possible.

              Commander's Intent: by dropping the equivalent of an Operational Maneuver Group into the enemy heartland the German war effort will be seriously disrupted. The German mobilization schedules will be completely upset by waging a campaign the adversary did not see coming. With 7 German armies in the West and 1 army in the East, the Germans will be badly prepared for this and have to change their plans and preparations accordingly in order to properly protect their capital and heartland. At the same time they still will have to conduct the war as conventionally planned.

              This should have greatly influenced the outcome of the opening campaigns both in East and in West.
              Interesting idea, but how could they have maintained complete secrecy of the landings? And please put someone with at least half a brain in Rennenkampf's place.
              www.histours.ru

              Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Major Sennef View Post
                All right , I'll take up the gauntlet and try to present a war winning move.

                .....<snip>.......

                This should have greatly influenced the outcome of the opening campaigns both in East and in West.
                I'm not sure that falls within the original concept of the thread, although that's only my opinion. I took it to be asking whether any of the 'greats' of military history could have turned one of the key battles around. Replace Joffre with Napoleon and a different French military mindset might emerge significantly affecting the whole French war plan. Replace Moltke with his more talented uncle and ..... well, you get the picture.
                Signing out.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                  I'm not sure that falls within the original concept of the thread, although that's only my opinion. I took it to be asking whether any of the 'greats' of military history could have turned one of the key battles around. Replace Joffre with Napoleon and a different French military mindset might emerge significantly affecting the whole French war plan. Replace Moltke with his more talented uncle and ..... well, you get the picture.
                  How about just replacing Conrad with someone only mildly incompetent? Say Archduke Charles of Austria-Teschen (the loser of the Battle of Wagram, 1809).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                    I'm not sure that falls within the original concept of the thread, although that's only my opinion. I took it to be asking whether any of the 'greats' of military history could have turned one of the key battles around. Replace Joffre with Napoleon and a different French military mindset might emerge significantly affecting the whole French war plan. Replace Moltke with his more talented uncle and ..... well, you get the picture.
                    I do get it
                    IMO it would be very difficult to change the outcome of the opening battles given the existing parameters of that time.

                    The scenario I offered would have upset the "war by timetable" through as surprising a move as I could devise close to midnight. Of course I'm fully aware of some of its imperfections, but even now in daylight I think it has some redeeming qualities

                    Logistical problems could be overcome through good staff work.
                    (especially landing horses at dawn would be a nightmare I expect).
                    Secrecy as ShAA suggests will always be a problem: it has to be a thunderbolt striking.
                    And the fact that the enemy has a vote I would really have to look into: both the German Baltic fleet as well as the German territorial army. I had hoped to overcome the army by moving around in a nebulous form, refusing battle and not staying longer than a week/ten days, enough to upset all enemy war plans and put them behind schedule. After that the task is done and the Cossacks could disappear by exfiltrating east.
                    BoRG

                    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                      How about just replacing Conrad with someone only mildly incompetent? Say Archduke Charles of Austria-Teschen (the loser of the Battle of Wagram, 1809).
                      That would work. I'd go into the future and kidnap some future medical genius who would keep Bismarck alive and healthy for another thirty years. There would be no pan-European struggle on his watch!
                      Signing out.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                        I'm not sure that falls within the original concept of the thread, although that's only my opinion. I took it to be asking whether any of the 'greats' of military history could have turned one of the key battles around. Replace Joffre with Napoleon and a different French military mindset might emerge significantly affecting the whole French war plan. Replace Moltke with his more talented uncle and ..... well, you get the picture.
                        you hit the nail on the head. Like Bonaparte said "It is not the men but the man that counts". With a leader like Bonaparte in command and at least a little while to prepare the "feel" of the french army would have gone from suicidally incompetant to an aggresive and rock solid military michine. As to the tactical side of combat the elder Moltke said "....we can place our forces in a deffensive position of such an offensive quality that the enemy will be forced to attack us". Napoleon also said "war consists of extremely circumspect defence fallowed by aggresive counter attack" (or somthing like that). It's my developing opinion that the reason WWI bogged down was from lack of innovative and inventive young officers. In many cases WWI with a break down in communication, railroads, and the inability to supply millions of men, would have reverted to a mobile Great War which would have either ended before it could get started (on purely logilistic reasons) or the nations would have been forced to demobilize some of their soldiers putting the army size back to a 1850-60s size of no more then 200,000 men deployed in any one army and no more then two armys of this size at any one time.
                        Proud Christian.

                        And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement.
                        Philippians 1:9

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Let me posit this little scenario.

                          Lord Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar, commands the Grand Fleet as the war begins. Bold and aggressive, something that endears him to his boss, Winston Churchill, he's already planned a surprise attack on the High Seas Fleet by sailing up the Jade even before war with Germany was considered possible. In early October 1914 he executes his plan, opting to steam out of Scapa and Rosyth on a cloudy moonless night considering that the risk of grounding on the sandbars of the Jade is worth taking given the prospective prize. Although 'Marlborough' and 'Collingwood' are both lost after getting stuck fast on the Jade Bar the rest of the fleet sails into Wilhelmshaven and sink most of the High Seas Fleet before the alarm is raised. Nelson is mortally wounded when his Flagship, 'Iron Duke' is struck by a torpedo fired by a u-boat returning to base. His famous last words. 'Slap me Jellicoe, slap me hard', whilst often misinterpreted and in any case probably apocryphal, have long since passed into legend. 'Iron Duke' was scuttled in Wilhelmshaven harbour alongside 'Agamemnon' rendering the port useless to all but the smallest vessels. On hearing the news that his pride and joy had been sunk Wilhelm II died of a heart attack. His son and heir William 'the peacemaker' quickly realised that without a fleet there was nothing to prevent the British from enforcing a close blockade, throttling Germany economically and threatening social order. In early November he sued the Entente Powers for peace and at 11 O'Clock in the morning on November 11th 1914 the Eleven Week War came to an end.

                          Flippancy aside, I believe that the attack on the High Seas Fleet is the kind of thing a 'Nelson' would do.
                          Signing out.

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                          • #14
                            I see you have come over to my point of view on how this thread can be perceived (and great fun isn't it)

                            Good scenario and indeed something I would have expect Nelson to do. In the contemporary German press there were huge debates on the tread of the German fleet being ”Copenhagened" in the way you describe.
                            BoRG

                            You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              wow. I like this thread!
                              Proud Christian.

                              And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement.
                              Philippians 1:9

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