Sunday, 26 August 2018
Answering the The Eastern Question
The Greek army for the period under consideration - I rather like that very elegant looking lancer officer. I will take a look at some other sources for some closer details but reckon that the ACW kept wearing infantryman from Spencer Smith could serve quite nicely if one was not too pedantic about minor details.
OK then. You probably remember me mentioning an idea I was flirting with based on the Western Balkans and the Adriatic and set around the 1865 - 1875 period. This would involve the Greeks, Turks (via those areas that were still technically part of the Ottoman Empire) the Russians and the British - the latter as I wanted them still around occupying the Ionian islands. All of this came about as a result of my recent holiday in Corfu and seeing all the British buildings in the old fortress. The British had a governor on Corfu from 1815 until the mid 1860s when the Ionian Islands were passed over to Greece. For a variety of reasons I opted to shelve this in its intended form with the view to revisiting it at a later date.
Well, the later date has arrived via some further research into the period from the start of the Greek War of Independence until the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War.
Over the whole period the permutations of alliances and influence was, to say the least, rather complex.
Initially the plan was to maintain Ottoman territorial integrity to ensure that Russian influence was in the area was kept honest (thus pleasing Austria). However, the notion of Greek independence had gotten a hold in the minds of many influential people across Europe and so the idea of autonomy for the region but under Ottoman suzerainty was mooted. This did not go far enough and so the French, the British and the Russians sent forces to support the Greek rebels - especially as things were going so badly following the arrival of the Turkish allies from Egypt. At this stage a concerted effort from the Turks may well have ended the Greek resistance but for the Allied naval victory at Navarino in 1827.
The French then sent an expeditionary force to help with the subjugation of the remaining Turkish garrisons and remained around until relieved by the Bavarians when Prince Otto arrived to assume the kingship of the newly independent Greece.
The Russians went to war with Turkey in 1828 as the Turks, in retaliation for the Russian involvement at Navarino, closed the Dardanelles strait to Russian shipping.
The Battle of Akhalzic 1828. Note the white trousered Russians and the rather nonchalant drummer!
With Greece now an independent nation and supported by both Britain and France the Russians continued to be the champion of the Slavic peoples and thi ultimately led to the war in 1877 as the Turks went from being a cause celebre to (almost) international pariahs. Britain and France (not to mention Austria) were always mindful of the Ottoman geographical situation and usually were supportive of their territorial integrity - especially where Russia was concerned.
I have thought about all the permutations of historical alliances and how this could translate into an 1865 to 1875 style set up.
You will have no doubt noticed that at this point I have made no mention of imagi-nations. This is deliberate as I genuinely believe that the situation is this part of the world during the period under consideration was diverse enough generate sufficient interest using historical forces. However, therein lies a potential stumbling block. The forces I would consider for this will be made from Spencer Smith figures and so I am limited to an extent what can be produced. In fact it is fair to say that the armies will not be accurate representations of their historical counterparts - rather they will be ‘based upon’. If tweaking a historical period and producing armies that are loosely modelled on their actual counterparts constitutes ‘imagi-neering’ then so be it. In any event the background is the thing and the armies (and navies) will be there or thereabouts in terms of what they look like and what would be available.
For the period in question the Spencer Smith ACW kepi wearing infantryman will be well suited for use for the Russians, the French, the Serbians and the Greeks (if one is not too fussy about the headgear). The kepi wearing cavalryman will be useful for both the Greeks and the Russians whilst the ACW Zouave will of course work for the Turk - as well as for many of the Ottoman Balkan subjects although I will need to lose the back pack. I can raid the other Spencer Smith ranges for assorted Balkan irregulars, other cavalry types and even, if needed, Bavarian infantry.
I have yet to finalise the shape this project will take and it will be very much a ‘what if’ style of set up. The troops fielded will be ‘based upon’ their historical counterparts and so in true Hollywood fashion ‘and resemblance between persons or events living or dead is purely coincidental and not intentional.’
That’s the plan anyway and so the Grand Duchy of Artois and the Electorate of Kronenbourg will appear in their 18th century guise in due course - as I always intended.