Napoleon doesn't Invade Russia

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CaptainZoidberg
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Napoleon doesn't Invade Russia

Post by CaptainZoidberg » 2008-06-01 09:45pm

Let's say I go back in time to the Napoleonic Wars and convince Napoleon not to launch any invasion of Russia.

Is the French Empire gradually torn apart by rebellions in Spain and other territories? Does the French Empire survive beyond Napoleon's death?

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Post by Adrian Laguna » 2008-06-01 10:27pm

In 1812, when Bonaparte decided to invade Russia, his Empire was already crumbling. I think Napoleon's best chance to solidify his hold on continental Europe was in 1807 while signing the Treaties of Tilsit. Had he followed Telleyrand's advice and been magnanimous in victory, as well as a couple of other wise move like cancelling the Continental System, and the 19th Century may have been France's instead of Great Britain's.

The thing is, getting Napoleon to act in such a manner would require substituting him with another man entirely. It simply wasn't in his character to recognize when to stop, or even that he had to stop eventually. So he kept going, and going, until finally he overextended himself and all his accomplishments collapsed from under him.

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Post by CaptainZoidberg » 2008-06-02 02:22pm

It seems odd that Napoleon would take such an aggressive stance against the British. If I were in his shoes, I would've just left the British alone, and secretly built up a navy.

But if he hadn't invaded Russia, couldn't he have used that massive army to consolidate control of Spain, Austria, etc. and stabilize his regime? I mean, he put tons of troops into that army.

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Post by Black Admiral » 2008-06-02 06:42pm

CaptainZoidberg wrote:It seems odd that Napoleon would take such an aggressive stance against the British. If I were in his shoes, I would've just left the British alone, and secretly built up a navy.
"Secretly" how? Building up a battle fleet to challenge Britain's isn't exactly something that can be done either overnight or without significant investiture resources, most importantly trained manpower, which France does not have a surfeit of.
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Post by TC Pilot » 2008-06-02 11:39pm

A France that did not invade Russia (but still humiliated Austria and castrated Prussia, and invaded Spain) would be in a precarious state. His armies would still be whittled away by Spanish guerillas, Britain was still completely beyond his reach, and the possibility of Austria and Russia ganging up on him would hover France like a storm cloud.

It's possible he could have used those armies otherwise lost in Russia to keep the European coalitions from breaking across the Rhine or Alpine frontiers, or to conclusively squash Wellington in Iberia. It would essentially become a matter of plugging holes in Napoleon's empire with troops. It may have eventually been possible for him to simply last long enough for Europe accept a Napoleonic France as a fait accompli.
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Post by thejester » 2008-06-03 05:02am

Adrian Laguna wrote:The thing is, getting Napoleon to act in such a manner would require substituting him with another man entirely. It simply wasn't in his character to recognize when to stop, or even that he had to stop eventually. So he kept going, and going, until finally he overextended himself and all his accomplishments collapsed from under him.
That is the key to this scenario. For all his skill as a reformer and an administrator, Napoleon was a military leader who relied on military action to achieve his objectives. It must be noted that the 1812 invasion was five years after the last major European land war; a time in which Napoleon had indeed left his continental enemies alone to concentrate on destroying British naval power. The Royal Navy got to the Danes first, the Spanish expedition was a disaster and the Portuguese Fleet sailed for Brazil as the first French soldiers limped into Lisbon. Add this to the failure of Napoleon's economic incentives and Napoleon going on the campaign seems inevitable; and the Allies had finally wised up and the result was almost inevitable.
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Post by Thanas » 2008-06-03 09:56am

Black Admiral wrote:
CaptainZoidberg wrote:It seems odd that Napoleon would take such an aggressive stance against the British. If I were in his shoes, I would've just left the British alone, and secretly built up a navy.
"Secretly" how? Building up a battle fleet to challenge Britain's isn't exactly something that can be done either overnight or without significant investiture resources, most importantly trained manpower, which France does not have a surfeit of.
To pick this up from the realm of speculation and add some real numbers to it, here are some numbers from a presentation I gave recently:

From 1780-1815 France launched 152 ships of the line.
From 1780-1815 Britain launched 186 ships of the line.

So we have a British advantage in shipbuilding, training and officers even when France could call on almost all resources of Europe (From 1800-1815 France launched 81 SOTL whereas Britain launched 97 SOTL). Granted, one could argue that the ships build by Sané are of superior designs, however this argument fails since after the invasion of Toulon the british copied the designs and even improved them.

The only other nation which fielded a substantive and regular navy, Spain, is negligible in this scenario due to the peninsular war which destroyed the spanish shipbuilding capabilities to the point that they did not launch a SOTL until 1852.
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