The destruction of the invasion fleet gave Norway a commanding power over the Atlantic Ocean, but did not of itself end the war. Rather, it ensured that there would be a long, exhausting struggle; and for such a conflict, the British Empire with its vast resources was far better suited than Norway, whose strength lay in sudden deadly assault where the fighting qualities of the splendid Yngling troops could come to the fore. Nonetheless, the war was on, and the Ynglings went to it with a will, whatever their private fears.
The question was, where should the enemy be fought? With control of the oceans, Norway was in the happy position of being able to decide where the action should lie. The invasion of England was contemplated, but rejected as impossible; the islanders had not wasted their time since the previous war, and their island was now a well-defended fortress, not the green and pleasant land over which Norwegian troops had had such easy marches. India was also considered, but – command of the sea or none – the difficulties of supply were great; and in any case, even a great victory in that theater would not be decisive. India could go, and Britain would fight on. This was even more true of Australia and Japan. That left America, where a large army was pressing down out of Canada on the Norwegian possessions. Victory here would deprive the British of vast resources and a strong army; it was also the one front on which they might be brought to action. The I, II and III Corps of the Ynglinga Hird were therefore immediately dispatched to invade Canada from the sea, with the twin objects of disrupting British supply lines and immediately occupying some of their territory, thus improving the propaganda situation.
The landings were unopposed, and a rapid advance was made south to the prewar border. However, the difficult terrain north of the Great Lakes, and a stubborn British defense, made it necessary to form a defensive line here. In the face of increasing partisan attacks, and British troops brought up from the south to form a line of defense just south of Washington, the Yngling advance stalled. Now, for the first time, was seen the devastating power of modern artillery, when combined with machine guns and entrenchments, to halt an attack by even the best-trained troops. The Ynglings were still supreme in personal combat; there were no faster marchers or better shots in the world; but no amount of skill and courage could get a battalion up to a line defended by machine guns in more than company strength. Much Yngling blood was expended in proving this on the British pocket around Binghamton, and their defense line north of the Lakes. The pocket, deprived of supplies and reinforcements, was at last liquidated; but by then, the British had formed a strong defensive line, heavy with fortification, and the Norwegian divisions were drained and exhausted. It was clear that there could be no question of continuing the campaign in the spring of 1866. Preparations were made for bringing reinforcements from the new divisions forming in Norway, to be landed in south of the Potomac and sweep west, surrounding the British lines. But before this plan could be brought into action, the war took a decisive turn for the worse.
From Berserker to Battleship : Norway 1066-1920, Bergenhus University Press.
The initial attacks:
The black line shows the defensive line that the Yngling troops finally took up in order to safeguard the flank of the main advance into the Norwegian colonies. The dashed lines show the further advances that were planned; these were eventually abandoned due to stubborn British resistance and the difficulty of the terrain.
The attack towards Washington:
At this stage the British lines in the theater were still unformed, and in spite of the partisans, Yngling troops were able to advance rapidly. In a campaign of movement, their fine qualities as warriors came to the fore; in general, a Norwegian general would feel quite confident in his ability to defeat two British divisions with one of his own, and to defeat any counterattack of less than four-to-one odds.
Formation of the Bingham pocket:
The dogged courage of the men defending the Pocket, which lasted for several months in the face of the severest difficulties of supply, held up the planned Yngling advance and permitted the formation of a strong defensive line from Manassas to the Great Lakes.
The race for Washington:
While several divisions were committed to the liquidation of resistance around Bingham, the remainder scrambled for Washington and the eastern seaboard. The offensive power diverted to Bingham was sorely missed in this race, as the British were able to dig in with a scratch force and finally halt the Norwegian advance.
March 29th, 1866
Håkon’s Hall, Bergen
“…it is therefore my solemn duty to inform you that a state of war exists between the Kingdom of Burgundy, and the Yngling Realm.”
There was absolute silence. Then King Håkon, sixth of that name, rose slowly from his throne. Two years of hard-fought war had left him thinner than when he had faced the ambassador of the British Empire, but he still moved with the deadly grace of an Yngling about to pounce. His spadelike hands made little twitching movements as he spoke, as though longing to bury themselves in the guts of the insignificant little stril who faced him, but he kept his fury out of his voice. “So the jackal has come for his share of what the lions have won. Fine then; take what you can. I give you this for your first spoil of war : Je me souviens.” The King’s face was pale but composed as he spat the unofficial motto of the Dukes of Burgundy back at their modern representative. The stril bowed, unmoved. “I trust Your Majesty will indeed have ample time to remember, in the prison to which his crimes against the German people have condemned him”.
As you might expect, I was a little annoyed by this. It was at this time that I hit the panic button, ie mobilised – until now I’d been happy to duke it out with regular troops. I still had to abandon Denmark and the Baltic seaboard.
My comment about Norwegian troops standing up to twice their number of Brits was not entirely hyperbole; as long as the enemy was not entrenched, I felt quite confident attacking them. To be sure, breech-loading rifles, machine guns, and my divisions being mainly Inf-A as against plain Inf had more to do with this than any magic Yngling skill, but hey, whatever works.