How would Britain have intervened in the Second Schleswig War?

Sep 2014
Queens, NYC
After WWI and WWII all failures to intervene in German affairs in the 19th century look like lost opportunities to avoid those 20th century wars.

But realistic history shows-as does this thread-how difficult such interventions would have been.

Unless a strict-no German unification policy-was followd by Great Britain and France, with standing forces of considerable size ready for use, Bismarck was almost inevitably a winner.
Feb 2016
Britain had, in 1861 151 000 regular infantry. 48 000 of which were on the Indian establishment (which does not mean they were in India) and about 105 000 regular soldiers of all arms stationed in GB.

It also has 290 000 auxilleries of all kinds (militia, volunteers and yoemanry).
It also has 30-40 000 Royal Marines.

In the event of a major war Britain has the ability to draw troops from the 100k home garrison, bolstered with a 25-50% boost from auxiliaries transferring to regular service and the ability to draw 25 000 men from over seas without leaving anywhere undefended.
Though those 25k might take months to arrive as they’d be coming from garrisons around the globe.

So timing would be key. And this war was fairly sharp. Even with serious intention to send a far larger army than I think likely. There is the chance Denmark would have lost before friends could arrive.


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
Would Sweden help Denmark? They were local rivals and seeing Denmark weakens might help Sweden.

If British/Franco-British help was involved we might also consider that either the Prussians would not bother at all or send a stronger force.

While popular sentiment may have backed Denmark, I’m not certain this translates into supporting a war.
They had been rivals in the past but Sweden was very concerned about Denmark's isolation. There was support in Sweden to assist Denmark, especially if Britain also intervened.


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
"by AG Newby - ‎2018
Irish Volunteers and the Second Schleswig War. Andrew ... and volunteers from Norway-Sweden, and Finland, arriving in Denmark in 1864 to repel the .... of which claimed part or all of Schleswig-Holstein as their 'national' territory. ( Griffiths ..." Google reference.

Re post 13 above


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
Would Sweden help Denmark? They were local rivals and seeing Denmark weakens might help Sweden.
In the 19th c. they were no longer rivals. The very real reduction of both Sweden and Denmark as military and territorial European powers in the Napoleonic Wars had ensured that. instead there was a new-found friendship between Sweden and Denmark in the 19th c.

Which was where Pan-Scandinavianism originated. The problem with that however was that it was a more popular idea in Denmark than in either Sweden or Norway. The Swedes were vary because the Danes pushed it as a vehicle for its ambitions precisely in the conflict over Schleswig-Holstein. In the case of a shooting-war it was Sweden, certainly not Norway, that was expected to be able to send actual military aid. (The Norwegians were also busy creating their own independent national institutions, laws and government, and so weren't particularly keen on either it old or new nominal overlord in this.)

But the Danes pushed for alliances and solidarity in the upcoming conflict, and their greatest coup was making the Swedish king Charles XV personally a recruit for the cause. He was wined, dined and hectored in glowing terms by the Copenhagen University student corporation on one of the Scandinavinist meetings, and made spur of the moment public declaration that he would personally lead a Swedish army of 100 000 men in Danish support if it came to war. Only to be told by HM's government when back in Stockholm to forget about it – and not even Royal Pleas that he had given his Royal Word swayed the hard-headed political types. Who clearly regarded Scandinavinism as mainly a vehicle for Danish political ambitions, and failed to spot anything in the situation of any real interest for Sweden. (Charles XV was known to be a bit of a bumbling fool – according to one of these accounts if a fire broke out in central Stockholm HM would personally rush to the site and then, quoting his Royal Privilege, attempt to take charge of the putting out of the fire, but make such a mess of everything courtiers were instructed to follow His Majesty and distract him so that the fire-brigade could actually do their job.)