The Great Game: The Darkest Hour

The entry of Burgundy was a serious but not fatal blow. Denmark and the Baltic littoral could plainly not be held, and the OYH (Overkommando Ynglinga Hird, Supreme Command of the Yngling Hird) did not even try. As long as the navy could control the Kattegat and Skagerrak, the Scandinavian peninsula could be held as a mountain fortress. Meanwhile, the Canadian campaign could be fought to a conclusion with the vast array of troops that now became available, as the Ting at last felt forced to authorise full mobilisation; at the same time, the Burgundian colonies could be snapped up.
All this, however, relied on maintaining control of the seas, and a second disaster now struck. The shipyards of Britain had for three years, since the disaster to the invasion fleet, been building a large, modern navy. With many other claims on scarcer resources, Norway had been unable to keep pace; and in the vast Battle of the Skagerrak, the Norwegian ironclads were forced to retreat, and control not only of the Atlantic but even of the Baltic was lost. Suddenly unleashed, division upon division of Burgundian conscripts streamed into Skåne. At the same time British troops landed in strength in Finland. The entry of Poland into the war was mere icing on the cake of defeat; in the increasingly desperate memoranda and telegrams flying back and forth between OYH, the Ting, and the King, Poland seems hardly to have registered as a threat. Indeed, with the industrial heartland in Malmø and Stockholm threatened, the loss of Novgorod could reeasonably be dismissed as a minor problem.
This was the lowest ebb of Norway’s fortunes; but now three years of hard fighting in Canada came to her aid. The British public was weary of a war which seemed to them not to touch on any vital British interest, and which had killed two hundred thousand of their sons. The Conservative government made the mistake of asking for a vote of confidence on its handling of the war, and lost by three votes after a thunderous speech by the Member for Newark. The resulting Liberal government offered Norway peace terms which, if not precisely generous, were at least survivable; and it was now no longer a question of the rule of Canada, or even of preserving Norwegian territory intact, but rather of the actual survival of Norway as a sovereign nation.

Norway accepted peace with United Kingdom on the following terms : Davenport to United Kingdom, Milwaukee to United Kingdom, Green Bay to United Kingdom, Minnesela to United Kingdom, Helena to United Kingdom, Bismarck to United Kingdom, Billings to United Kingdom, Aberdeen to United Kingdom, Minneapolis to United Kingdom, Lansing to United Kingdom, Duluth to United Kingdom, Great Falls to United Kingdom, Missoula to United Kingdom, Minot to United Kingdom, Roseau to United Kingdom, Nelson to United Kingdom, Marquette to United Kingdom and Grand Forks to United Kingdom.

The situation after the peace with England:
Occupied Norway

With the withdrawal of British troops, and more importantly ships, the situation eased enough that it became possible to fight on against the two remaining enemies. A defensive front was formed in Finland on the line Viipuri-Arkhangelsk; the awful terrain, coupled with the lessons learned in two years of trench warfare in the Americas, enabled the Yngling armies to hold off the Poles with almost contemptuous ease. Similarly, a thinly manned defensive line from Narvik to Luleå finally stopped the Belgian advance, with considerable help from the mountains.

A lopsided battle for Umeå, with twenty Burgundian divisions being held off by five of mine. A lot of German and Dutch boys leaving their bones in those mountains. This is where I really broke the back of the invasion.

Finland was thus preserved as a final bastion. Further, the Navy was now again able to assert its control of the sea lanes, and supplies and reinforcements for the occupying Belgian troops were thereby cut off; while the vast, thinly settled area of Scandinavia was a perfect theater for guerrillas. With the return of the regular army from Canada, Bergen and the southern part of Norway was retaken; but the Burgundians proved able to learn from the tactics of their opponents, and Yngling troops had no more luck attacking fortified positions in the mountains than their foes. The war thus settled into something of a stalemate, with most of Sweden and a large part of Norway occupied; but Norway now retained the crucial freedom of the seas.

Situation after my counterattacks, with Finland and southern Norway as bastions, and a new assault beginning in Denmark:
Scandinavia 1869

This freedom was immediately put to good use. New divisions were raised by every expedient thinkable, and some that would have been unthinkable before the war. Yngling women were not merely permitted to serve, but actually conscripted for fighting units; strils were armed in ever-increasing numbers (this measure squeaked past the Ting by a single vote; a much higher majority had voted for the formation of ‘Valkyrie’ units of women); the rationing system for strils was applied to Ynglings in order to free up supplies for the fighting front; boys of 16, still completing their training, were given rifles and sent off to fight alongside men of fifty recalled to the colours. With the actual homeland invaded, even the strils proved patriotic, and Yngling propaganda underwent a sudden shift in the direction of every Norwegian being in it together. Since this was accompanied by genuine and visible sacrifice on the part of the Ynglings, the strils appear to have felt that this was fair enough, and most fought loyally and effectively against the invader. In any case, the old barriers were perforce broken apart by the pressure of war; Yngling and stril units were thrown together by the ebb and flow of attack and counterattack, and soon nobody questioned whether a a fighting man had the right to be in the Hird, as long as he handled his rifle well. Among the fighting troops, a sort of rough egalitarianism broke out, which was to have far-reaching consequences after the war.
With the main Burgundian armies trapped (or operating, depending on one’s point of view) in Scandinavia, an amphibious assault across the Kattegat was an obvious counterstroke. The OYH intended to halt the advance at the prewar border, thus freeing up the industries and fighting strength of Denmark; but in fact the landings were so successful that the defensive line was extended far down into northern Germany, even reaching the Polish border. There it halted as the Burgundians in their turn stamped new armies out of the earth.

From Berserker to Battleship : Norway 1066-1920, Bergenhus University Press.

The German front. I’m stuck right here, I can no more break through dug-in bonuses of 60 than the Burgundians can. However, I still have some tricks up my sleeve; stay tuned next week!
German Front

Incidentally, you might find it interesting to take a look at the manpower situation in those screenies from 1869 and 1872. I go from 683 to 158. Each point of manpower being a thousand men, and taking into account that I have a fairly fast replenishment rate, that’s something like three-quarters of a million casualties in three years. That’s rather more than Northern losses in the American Civil war, and over a shorter period – though my population is rather larger, it’s true. On the other hand a lot of it is Germans and Russians, not to mention Africans and Cambodians, whom I am certainly not handing any weapons to, thanks kindly. We are talking about a demographic catastrophe of really epic proportions, here.


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