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Old November 14th, 2017, 06:51 AM   #1

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Victorian Britain invades Bismarck's German Empire


Let's say Queen Victoria decides that the best way of ridding herself of her most powerful rivals, the powers of Western Europe that were trying to carve up their own colonial empire, is to conquer Europe itself, and that in order to do this, she first has to invade and conquer Bismarck's German Empire after watching how it decisively defeated the French in 1871.

What do you think it would happen?

Edit: Adding two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Everyone is in character so that Britain could face an alliance trying to defend Germany, or could convince other European states to help it in invading Germany, but both have to convince European states to join their respective cause.

Scenario 2: Britain and Germany alone with other European nations remaining completely neutral and non-intervening.

Last edited by Maoistic; November 14th, 2017 at 08:16 AM.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 07:57 AM   #2

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Britain didn't have the available military forces. Would have taken long preparation which would have alerted the opposition.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 08:10 AM   #3

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In this scenario, has Russia, Austria and/or France offered to join in the fray? I don't see Britain alone being able to field such an army that could defeat let alone offer any serious challenge to the forces of Imperial Germany.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 08:14 AM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menshevik View Post
In this scenario, has Russia, Austria and/or France offered to join in the fray? I don't see Britain alone being able to field such an army that could defeat let alone offer any serious challenge to the forces of Imperial Germany.
Good question. I'm going to add two scenarios to account for this.

First scenario is that everyone is in character so that Britain could face such an alliance trying to defend Germany, or could convince other European states to help it in invading Germany, but both have to convince European states to join their respective cause.

Second scenario is just Britain and Germany alone with other European nations remaining completely neutral and non-intervening.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 08:44 AM   #5
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I seem to recall in 1864, over Schleswig-Holstein, there was talk of a British military expedition in support of Denmark. Bismarck ignored this completely in his planning, since it was known the UK would only be able to send approx. 20 000 men. Prussia was mobilizing 500 000.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 08:51 AM   #6
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I don't think Germany circa 1875 was as vulnerable to blockade as she was in WW1. Plus, if most of Europe was neutral, Germany could import goods through the neutral countries. It was only when the peripheral countries of Europe - France, Italy, Greece, and Russia - were at war with Germany that a British blockade could be effective.

Britain had no continental allies prior to 1900 so their only chance of winning is scenario two where neither has any allies. Even then it would be a tough haul. The British Army is just too small.

If Britain could find a continental ally their prospects would improve, but France was weak and every other country was on good terms with Germany. A Franco-British alliance in the 1870s, '80s, or '90s was unlikely.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 10:28 AM   #7

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Well couple of points.

1. Queen Victoria couldn't decide on this course of action it has to be her government and its going to need the active support of parliament.

2. It goes completely against British diplomatic principles, Britain never wanted to control or dominate Europe just not to allow another country to do so.

3. To stop them as Imperial rivals she does what she actually did do--keep a huge navy (at the time 2 power rule that is the RN was as big as the 2nd and 3rd ranked Navies put together ). In fact when a European power did try to rival them ,Imperial Germany, with a Deepwater Navy Britain simple built a bigger Navy.

4. Britain would need allies if only because it would almost impossible for her to invade Germany without them, simple Geography before we even start to discuss British military weakness.

5. Britain can not invade Germany-- she doesn't have an army. Britain would struggle to get 20,000 troops together at short notice, with some planning maybe 50,000. Even in 1914 when they had be planning for a possible European war they could only send a 100,000 strong BEF. That's is literally pathetic against the German army.

6. So we have to raise ,and train and equip, a by British standards huge army. How are you going to do this?

Conscription? that's how the European armies did it but that's problematic because the British will not like that one little bit ---- you are in a democracy ,of sorts, and that means you have to bring the country and Parliament with you. Its going to take years to raise and train this new army and you may well face a general election, if conscription is unpopular all your plans may fail.

Now you might claim that conscription was used in both WWI and WWII but only after two years of unprecedented slaughter and its effectiveness in WWI is questioned (it was so unpopular in Ireland it was never introduced.)

So its a army of volunteers measuring in the millions.

Possible it happened in the first two years of WWI and did produce a huge volunteer army, it also would imply that the action was popular with the country. But the perception in 1914 was that Germany was the aggressor they had invaded France (again) and Britains 'little friend' Belgium had been ferociously and cruelly attacked and but 'plucky little Belgium' was standing up to the 'big German bully' they needed help. That's a great deal easier to sell to volunteers than Imperial Rivalry in some far flung part of Empire.

Even so its going to take you years to build up such a huge army.

Last edited by Kevinmeath; November 14th, 2017 at 10:56 AM.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 10:57 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larrey View Post
I seem to recall in 1864, over Schleswig-Holstein, there was talk of a British military expedition in support of Denmark. Bismarck ignored this completely in his planning, since it was known the UK would only be able to send approx. 20 000 men. Prussia was mobilizing 500 000.
Question, couldn't the British just recruit soldiers from their colonies for an invasion effort? It would probably take a few years to fully gather them from their colonies, but that would at least ensure some number parity with the German Empire.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 12:06 PM   #9

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The German used to say that one Prussian Gendarme could arrest the British expedition force.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 01:18 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maoistic View Post
Question, couldn't the British just recruit soldiers from their colonies for an invasion effort? It would probably take a few years to fully gather them from their colonies, but that would at least ensure some number parity with the German Empire.
Well remember these colonies are 'new' states just growing. Canada, Australia and New Zealand contributed greatly to the British war effort in WWI but it still amounted to a minority of the British Imperial army and in 1870 each countries European population was less than half it was in 1914.

The Indian army was very large but most was needed in India, it wasn't established for external wars and there were also 'moral' dilemmas regarding fielding non-white troops against European enemies.
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