War of the Three Counties

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War of the Three Counties
Pohraniční Válka (Border War)
DateMarch 1862-3rd December 1864
LocationAlisna, Pollona
Result Moravian victory: status quo ante bellum
Questers renounces claims on the Three Counties
1864 Famine in Questers
1865 refugee crisis
Belligerents
 Moravian Empire  Questers
Commanders and leaders

Moravia Empress Henrietta-Marie
Moravia Theodor Benda

Moravia Adam Dvorak

Questers King Richard V

Questers Peter Hood 
Units involved
Moravian First Army, Second Army, Fourth Army, Sixth Army, Ninth Army, Tenth Army, Eleventh Army
Moravian Navy
Army of the Southern Orleck; First, Second, and Third Corps
Army of the Beam
Royal Navy
Strength
Beginning with 150,000 overall, 15,000 in the border area; up to 200,000 deployed at the front by 1864 Beginning with 25,0000; maximum 125,000 inside Pollona; up to 200,000 total
Casualties and losses
Approx. 177,000 KIA
39,000 wounded
11,000 died of disease
Approx. 168,000 KIA
41,000 wounded
55,000 died of disease

The War of the Three Counties, known as the Pohraniční Válka (Czech:"Border War") in Pollona, was a war fought between the Moravian Empire and Questers over the three counties of the Orleck, part of modern day Polom and Karviná. The war lasted from March 1862 to December 1864, and was the bloodiest war fought between the two countries. Moravia forced Questers back to its border and forced terms, including recognition of Moravian control of the three counties. Questers later renounced the treaty when the Moravian Empire collapsed in 1920.

The three counties south of the river Orleck (Pollonan: Orlik) were ceded to Moravia in 1672, but still had a sizeable Questarian minority by 1862. The Questarian government had supported insurrections in the three counties before, leading to a war in 1809, which Questers lost. Civil unrest in the 1860s led to a Questarian cavalry raid on the three counties, but when this raid met a Moravian force, the Moravians were repulsed at the First Battle of Hampstead Junction and Questers declared war on Moravia.

Between 1862 and 1863, aided by support from the native Questarian population, the Questarian army captured significant portions of three counties, but Moravia's superior industry, a professional staff corps, and a well-developed railroad network were some of the factors that led to a string of Questarian defeats in 1864, and the Army withdrew in October 1864. At sea, the Moravian navy's technological superiority destroyed a sizeable portion of the Questarian Royal Navy, leading to a naval blockade. The two forces faced off over the old border until a peace deal was reached in December, in which Questers renounced its claims to the three counties. A post-war economic slump, the arrival of more than 700,000 refugees from the three counties, and internal political instability almost caused a revolution in Questers in 1865. Post-war Moravia experienced an economic boom and a rise in patriotic fervor.

Opposing forces

Moravia

Questers

1862

After a lynching of a group of Questarians, King Richard V ordered the Army to send troops immediately to Tabriz (English: Tellerstown). General John Williams Shaw's cavalry division crossed the border, evading Moravian border guards, and moved rapidly into Tabriz. There it raided the arsenal, captured the garrison and established a general presence. Several thousand local Questarians took the weapons from the arsenal and formed irregular militias; these militias, under Brigadier-General Thomas Kerry ran into a Moravian force at Hampstead junction. The timely arrival of Shaw's cavalry routed the Moravian force and captured its leader, Prince Onilov. Questers subsequently declared war on Moravia in April 1862 and both sides mobilised their armies.

The Questarian attack caught Moravia completely by surprise. In Kralové, Prime Minister Ernst Lehmann's government began negotiations with Questers in 1861 on a new commercial treaty, in an effort to reduce tensions. Consumed with discussions over treaty ports in The Heavenly Kingdom, the Borgosesian Catholic Church, and internal improvements, the Moravian Cabinet had completely ignored developments within the three counties. After the declaration of war, the Government and Diet found themselves at odds over the magnitude and response to the crisis. An immediate, overwhelming response was prevented by the need to garrison troops in the Borgosesian provinces. Nevertheless, in April 1862 the Moravian home fleet under Admiral Antonin Kuval began an intermittent blockade of Questarian ports. At the Battle of the Karamish Gulf in May 1862, a squadron of Moravian ironclads sunk several Questarian ships of the line, demonstrating the effectiveness of new shipbuilding technologies. The Moravian navy scored a decisive victory against Questers in the August 1862 Battle of Altringham Bay, giving Moravia control of vital shipping lanes.

On land, the Questarians formed the Army of the Southern Orleck under Lieutenant-General Peter Hood, while three Moravian armies (First, Fourth, and Tenth) mobilized under the command of Prince Konstantine Tichkel and marched into the three counties. At the battles of Hostivice (Hillsborough) and Chýnov (Cobstown), the Moravian forces were initially successful, but during the Bobr River Campaign, Hood's army made several long forced marches and routed the First and Fourth armies at the battles of Zuasi (5 June 1862) and Brušperk (11 June 1862). The Moravian Tenth Army laid siege to Tabriz, but Hood divided his forces and launched an audacious flanking attack on 15 July. The Tenth Army retreated, despite inflicting heavy casualties on the Questarians. Hood and the generals of his two corps, Stanley Archer and James Elliot became household names in Questers.

In October 1862, facing mounting criticism for his handling of the war, Ernst Lehmann resigned. Empress Henrietta-Marie appointed Naval Minister Theodor Benda to replace him. Over the autumn, Benda's government ignored demands to attack from bellicose generals and advisors. Instead, his Cabinet worked to reequip and reorganize Moravian forces in the three counties. The government organized the sale of warbonds and imposed patriotic "war taxes" to pay manufacturers in hard currency. By the spring of 1863, enough weapons, uniforms, had been purchased to fully equip an 100,000 man army. Trains were redirected and schedules modified to rapidly bring more men to the front lines. The Empress endorsed Benda's dismissal of her own nephew, Prince Tichkel, from command of the forces in the three counties; he instead installed General Adam Dvorak as the head of a combined Front of the West with First, Fourth, and Tenth Armies.

Moravian Prime Minister Theodor Benda

Over the winter, Questarian forces advanced until they reached the traditional borders of the three counties. Once again Moravia declined peace talks, and Hood was ordered to attack Zuasi in order to persuade Moravia to come to terms. The battle unfolded between 27-29 November at the small river crossing of Jílové. At the time the battle was considered a Questarian victory, but contemporary historians (except in Questers) consider it a Moravian strategic victory. Both sides suffered heavy losses and under the advice of Dvorak, Benda's Cabinet refused to discuss peace. It was the bloodiest battle to date, with both sides losing around 18,000 men. Both sides retired for the winter of 1862-63 in order to replenish their forces.

War morale in Questers was high, with a string of victories from March to December. In total, Moravian casualties in the main seven battles of 1862 were almost 100,000, many of whom were trained veteran troops; conversely, Questers had lost less than 60,000 men. Questarian strategists had expected Moravia to agree to peace terms given the rapid string of defeats, but Moravia opted to draw out the conflict. At sea the Moravians had a string of victories, and were now imposing a harsher blockade of the Questarian coast. By the end of 1862, Moravia doubled its artillery production, and produced more rifles than Questers did during the whole war. Despite a tenuous beginning, Moravia rallied behind Benda's government and its refusal to surrender to a hostile surprise attack.

1863

2nd Battle of Zuasi

Archer's Corps attacks towards Zuasi, 13th March
Dvorak discusses the situation with his staff, 15th March.

Neither side mounted an offensive during the winter of 1862-1863, which was especially cold. Questarian diplomats attempted to negotiate a peace through Sondstead and Galla, but the Moravian government refused to accept any terms favourable to Questers: Moravia's larger population, industrial capacity, and naval blockade meant that a drawn-out war would eventually result in a Moravian victory. Moravian food supplies were already higher than before the war, and railroad construction continued increasing. The Questarian high command, led by King Richard V, was therefore eager to fight a decisive battle at the earliest possible date. In Moravia, the Empire's demographic superiority was well known, and the Moravian military leadership agreed to hold off any major offensives while building tactical superiority. However, the Moravian press agitated for a counterattack and the government finally relented, ordering the military onto the offensive as soon as possible. The Moravian Army of the West therefore collected in a central concentration zone west of the Bobr River when, on the 4th of March, they moved to recapture Zuasi.

The new Front of the West, now with Second and Ninth Armies, numbered approximately 140,000 men, although only elements of the First, Fourth and Tenth had any experience. Zuasi's main railroad line had yet to be repaired, and a far more direct route from the south had yet to be constructed. Thus army had to march along the narrow main road to Zuasi was narrow. To complicate matters, from March 7th-11th, heavy rains turned it to mud. Nevertheless, First Army had been able to recapture Zuasi on 12th March. Hood's Army was divided into three Corps, all of which were dispersed, as military intelligence had not predicted a Moravian attack until April. United, they numbered around 65,000. Questarian cavalry successfully scouted the Moravian dispositions and found the Five Armies spread out over sixty miles. Hood deployed the First Corps under Stanley Archer north of Zuasi, and by quick cross-country marching, moved his Second Corps and the Third Corps north of the Moravian column. The First Corps launched a series of attacks against the front of First Army on the 13th March. Anticipating an attack by Hood's whole army, Dvorak pushed his other armies forwards, throwing in the experienced Fourth and Tenth armies. Archer's corps recoiled and suffered heavy casualties, but Archer's personal presence was able to present a rout. Archer sent Hood the laconic message: "Hurry up, please", which has since become famous in Questers.

On the morning of the 15th of March, Hood attacked inexperienced Moravian elements of the Second and Ninth Armies guarding the rear, routing elements of the former Second Army by mid-day and the Ninth by early afternoon. The two Armies retreated into then rear of First, Fourth and Tenth Armies, creating serious confusion. Hood's cavalry was able to destroy or capture more than half the baggage trains of Dvorak's army in this action. Dvorak decided to withdraw his force southwards and attempt to recapture Zuasi in the following week, but during the evening, the disorganised Ninth Army became stuck in the poor terrain and blocked the movement of Second and Fourth Armies, which suffered extremely heavy casualties: in particular, Major-General Karel Skácel's Division suffered nearly 7,000 casualties and was totally destroyed. Hood's men were exhausted and unable to pursue, and Dvorak's force slipped away, harassed by cavalry.

Between 13th-15th March, Questers had lost 22,200 men to death or injury, and Moravia had suffered nearly 35,300 casualties, with 4,700 captives being taken. Opinion is divided on who won the battle; Questers inflicted disproportionate casualties, but was unable to replenish the losses it had suffered, whereas Moravia was easily able to replace the men and equipment. General Dvorak withdrew south and retreated back across the Bobr river, ceding the strategic initiative to Questers. Moravian civilian and military planners in Moravia had, initially, been shocked by the encounter. However the main strategic objective, Zuasi, had been initially seized and thus the defeat was blamed on poor logistics and strategic planning.

Raid on St. Georges

The Moravian Fleet bombarding St. Georges

In the summer of 1863, Moravian military planners looked for alternative means to halt or reverse the Questarian advance. Once widely overlooked, the war at sea had surpassed all expectations. The bulk of the Moravian Navy now focused on raiding commercial ships and tightening its blockade of Questers. Naval bombardments or amphibious raids until then were small and unplanned. On February 7th the Moravian frigate Viti briefly shelled Fort Redcliff while chasing a sloop up the Questarian coast. On April 22nd the Tirka ran aground on a sandbar near the town of Bembridge. The crew disembarked and sacked the town before the Keljárka picked up the stragglers.

In July, the Moravian General Staff drew up plans for an amphibious assault on St. Georges, a vital communications centre: both telegraph and railway lines ran from Jesselton through the city, towards the frontline. Under Rear Admiral Stavo Kubát, Sixth and Seventh Squadrons and the 115th Regiment (totaling 3,500 men) would attack the city, with the objective of destroying the harbor, railway yard, and telegraph office. On August 23rd the Sixth and Seventh squadrons engaged the ships at anchor in the harbor, and then began bombarding key military fortifications. The first Moravian troops, commanded by Colonel Dubrovnik, landed at a beach outside the city at nightfall. The St. Georges garrison, under Major General Richard Hampton, moved its artillery to engage the Sixth and Seventh squadrons, successfully sinking 2 ships. However, the amphibious raiders caught several Questarian companies by surprise.

By the morning of August 24th, the Moravian raiders had cut the telegraph lines and burned down the office. Around mid-day two Moravian battalions were counterattacked by a detachment from the Questarian garrison outside the railway yard. Unwilling to press the attack, Dubrovnik ordered a general withdrawal back to the transports. The buildings inside the yard were undamaged, but a group of Moravian engineers had destroyed several sections of track. Hampton ordered his men to give chase to the Moravian raiders all afternoon. Both sides fought to a stalemate on a series of sand dunes a mile from the landing site.

Witnessing the attack, Rear Admiral Kubát ordered the Sixth and Seventh Squadrons to provide cover by bombarding the approaches to the beach. What happened next is unclear: the Captain of the Lučina had either not seen or misinterpreted the signaled message; he ordered the crew to shell several warehouses near the harbor. The Lučina struck a large gunpowder store, causing a violent explosion. The ensuing fire spread rapidly, consuming most of the harbor and the inner city. General Hampton ordered his men to break off their advance to aid the town, allowing Colonel Dubrovnik to evacuate the rest of his regiment. In departing, Admiral Kubát commented: "Now [Questarians], reap the flames you've spread".

The raid was technically a Questarian victory, but Moravia achieved all its tactical objectives. 340 Moravians and 610 Questarian soliders were either killed or wounded. The St. Georges fire killed many civilians and is still the subject of immense animosity between Questers and Pollona. After Questers renounced the peace treaty in 1920, the new Pollonan government retracted an official apology made in 1895.

Battle of Chomutov Junction

The Questarian High Command had expected a capitulation over the summer, but again the Moravians rejected any peace favorable to Questers. Leaders in Jesselton pressed hard to end the war. The blockade caused acute shortages of raw materials and foodstuffs, and another year of fighting would exhaust Quester's resources. Lieutenant-General Hood was ordered to march deep into Moravia, authorizing an advance as far as Liberec and the Viti River. Such an advance would capture vital ports, undermining the blockade, and (hopefully) force Moravia to concede defeat. Hood's first target was the city of Rudník, an intersection for roads and railway lines running westward. On October 10th, Hood's army crossed the Bobr and marched west.

In October the Moravian Second Army, stationed to the west of of Rudník along the Morav River, finished resupplying and reequipping its forces after the failed Zuasi campaign. The new commander, Lieutenant General Nikuláš Volf, heard of Hood's advance on October 12th. Volf cabled the Railroad Ministry for every railway engine and car available. The next day, 8 trains carrying two forward divisions, about half Volf's forces, left for Rudník in the largest troop movement by rail of the war. Volf ordered an advance as far as possible along the railway network in order to block Hood's advance. On October 16th he commanded his 30,000 men to take up defensive positions near the town of Chomutov, about 30 miles east of Rudník. Meanwhile General Dvorak, who was marching Ninth and Tenth Armies northwards, ordered Volf to avoid an engagement until his forces were in position. However, Dvorak's Army was not expected to arrive before the 22nd at the earliest.

Hood's forces, numbering 55,000, arrived near Chomutov on the morning of October 18th. On October 19th Hood ordered one Corp under Guy to attack the Moravian regiment guarding the east-west road through the town. Guy's forces quickly overwhelmed the Moravians, who were forced to retreat to the hillside positions along a ridge to the northwest of town. Volf arranged his forces into a J-shape along the ridge, and ordered an artillery barrage of Hood's forces below. Hood's three Corps attacked the entrenched Moravian forces on the morning of October 20th. The Questarians had an large numerical advantage, but the Moravians deployed their latest weapon, gattling guns, to devastating effect. The first attack breached the first Moravian fence line, but was repulsed in a counter-attack around noon by forces under Colonel Hubert Zapletal.

Hood's battle plan on October 20th called for a general assault on the Moravian positions as a diversion. On the far left flank, lead by Guy, the Questarians would sweep around Volf's defenses and push eastward, rolling up the line. However the attack did not start until mid-day, by which time Zapetal had reinforced the Moravian positions. Fighting stalemated throughout the day. Unknown to either side, General Dvorak's armies advanced in a forced march and arrived in the early morning of October 21st. Hood again ordered an attack on Volf's position at 8:00am. He critically dismissed reports of cavalry skirmishes along the north-south road, believing the cavalry were stragglers from the October 19th engagement when, in fact, they were from the Moravian Ninth Army.

Dvorak's forces caught Hood by surprise when the Moravian's attacked the Questarian rear at 10:15am. Confusion set in on the Questarian lines as they fought on two opposite fronts. Volf ordered an advance on Chomutov to encircle Hood's forces, but the Questarians rallied and conducted a fighting retreat eastward. In all, the Questarians suffered approximately 19,000 casualties to the Moravians 16,000. The battle marked a turning point in the war: the beginning of the Moravian counteroffensive.

1864

3rd Battle of Zuasi

Aftermath

Technology

See also