The Fools Who Dream​

An Account of mid-18th Century Europe at War.
The Seven Years’ War, French and Indian War, Third Silesian War, etc., whatever you want to call it, was undoubtedly a pivotal moment in history.

It’s no wonder that it is (relatively) so often the subject of alt-history works. There is no end to the amount of resources available on war aims, order of battle, or even sometimes down to the minute-to-minute happenings during the war.

Yet I find that most alt-histories surrounding the subject have little variation, often amounting to France gaining hegemony over North America and Prussia being obliterated by her enemies. However, the war was much more than that, and I believe that drastically different outcomes could have been reached by even the most minor divergences. As much as it sounds like I’m talking myself up (because I am), I hope that anybody who happens to stumble upon this timeline finds it unique and engaging enough to follow along with.

Our story begins in 1758, a particularly interesting year for the conflict. The Kingdom of France had successfully invaded and occupied the Electorate of Hanover, only for that to be overturned. The Kingdom of Great Britain had renewed interest in the continental theatre, and the Kingdom of Prussia seemed to be coming upon a resurgence, both of these factors can be attributed to the stunning Prussian victory at the Battle of Rossbach. The Habsburg Monarchy would enter the new year particularly shaken by numerous defeats at the hands of Frederick II, but it was not deterred. The Russian Empire had emerged as a new threat to the Prussian Army, but faced logistical issues and thus any progress it had made had stalled for the foreseeable future.

It is this combination of circumstances that draws me to the year 1758. Even a slight push in any direction could have shifted the balance of the war completely. I suspect that if France could have held off Ferdinand of Brunswick’s advances across the Rhine, there would immediately be doubt cast by Britain on whether investing in the European was worth it, especially with prized Hanover under threat by France.

So that is what will happen in this timeline.

Some of you may recall that I had been writing a TL with the same PoD just earlier this year. However, in the months since first publishing that TL, I’ve found its format rather limiting, and have greatly deepened the amount of thought and research put into the TL. So think of this as sort of a reboot of that, and a link to this TL will shortly be posted to the thread of the original with a brief announcement.

The Plan

With this fresh slate, I believe I have a much clearer vision than I did with the previous iteration of the TL. As I believe that most people are familiar with the Seven Years’ War, the (already written) first chapter will have just three paragraphs briefly covering events up to the end of 1757, before diving into the year 1758 and the PoD.

My intent is for the timeline to unfold in multiple stages, with the first being a ‘wartime’ narrative detailing the alternate 7YW and its outcome; it will focus on personalities, strategies, diplomacy, and the occasional battlefield narrative. As the PoD is relatively minor, the alternate events may be interwoven with those of OTL, and maybe even detailed writings about those OTL events.

The latter stages will be less about war and more about politics, diplomacy, economics, and culture in an alternate Europe in the latter half of the 18th century. While I consider myself well-read enough for the mostly planned-out first stage, the latter stages are mostly open to the input of others, and I will want to get your help to create a historically plausible outcome for the fate of Europe (and other places).

I must also confess that my knowledge is very much European-centric, and by that virtue, this timeline will too be European-centric. However, I will foray into events elsewhere, and seek out your opinions on those regions that are unfamiliar to me.

The style of this timeline will be different (sort of like a pop history book’s writing style?) than what I had tried with the earlier iteration, as I found that style difficult to stay motivated to write. But I do intend to intersperse the chapters with the occasional historical vignette, excerpt, and other things of the sort.

Please do stick around, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy the timeline!
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Prussians at Kolín in 1757

In his classic work, The Luck of Barry Lyndon, William M. Thackeray wrote, ‘It would require a greater philosopher and historian than I am to explain the causes of the famous Five Years’ War in which Europe was engaged; and, indeed, its origin has always appeared to me to be so complicated, and the books written about it so amazingly hard to understand, that I have seldom been much wiser at the end of a chapter than at the beginning, and so shall not trouble my reader with any personal disquisitions concerning the matter’. Many historians argue that the war began when Frederick II of Prussia decided to preemptively invade the Electorate of Saxony in 1756, to strike before his enemies could. One could also argue that it had begun in the Mediterranean when France invaded the island of Menorca.

To say that the war was multiple conflicts being fought simultaneously would be equally as true. The modern face of the conflict is that of an Anglo-French one, though the Anglo-French contest overlapped with one between Prussia and her enemies. The Third Silesian War, as it is known, was a struggle waged by the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa, who had never recognised Frederick’s theft of Silesia as legitimate. The Empress had assembled a coalition of states with the sole aim of destroying Prussia, with her main partners being King Louis XV of France and Tsarina Elisabeth of Russia. Yet the conflicts in Europe were themselves part of a wider one, as Britain and France had already been fighting over disputes in the Ohio Valley since 1754.

No matter the cause, the war would result in half a decade of devastation in Europe. The campaign of 1756 had proven successful for Prussia, with Saxony occupied in its entirety. Frederick believed that a quick victory was in order. The campaign of 1757 would seemingly prove him right. Despite defeats such as at Kolín, Frederick had successfully led a numerically superior combined French and Imperial force into a trap, decimating them at the Battle of Rossbach. Afterwards, he would succeed in routing a vastly superior Austrian force at the Battle of Leuthen. The closing months of 1757 had brought the King his greatest victories, yet the dual victories of Rossbach and Leuthen were a height to which Frederick would not return.

The winter of 1757 had brought about a sobering fact to all of the war’s belligerents. Its financial costs were far from what anyone had anticipated. For France, the brief occupation of Hanover that year had been expected to pay for itself. Yet of the 16 million Livres that had been expected only 4 million were received by the treasury. It did not help that most of the money had been blatantly embezzled by Richelieu and his generals, as well as the agents of Pâris du Verney. At the start of the new year, Richelieu suddenly submitted his resignation and returned to Paris, the cause of which was suspected to be to enjoy the massive fortune he had just made. The coffers of France were under enormous strain, supplanted by an enormous debt inherited over generations (estimated to be around 850 to 2,200 million Livres at the start of the war).[1]

The cause of France was faltering. An impressive campaign which had quickly led to Hanover’s withdrawal from the war had been reversed in less than a year, and on April 11 the Anglo-Prussian Convention had been concluded. British subsidies to Prussia according to the convention went up to the exorbitant sum of 4 million Thaler, or around £670,000.[2] All of this could not have happened, of course, if not for the stunning victory of the Prussians at Rossbach. The famed King of Prussia had proven his prowess, and France was placed in a difficult position. The British naval descent near St. Malo on 5 June placed further uncertainty within the French command.

This uncertainty allowed the new commander of the Army of Observation, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick to commence a campaign on the Rhine. The Army of Observation had made a crossing at the Dutch town of Lobith (ignoring Dutch neutrality), occupying the town of Cleves on June 3. The French had been caught so much by surprise that no attempt was made to counterattack. When news of the descents had reached Ferdinand’s French counterpart, Louis, Count of Clermont, Ferdinand would move forward with his Rhine crossing. After a failed attempt to engage with the French Army of Westphalia at Rheinsberg, the Army of Observation would pursue them further south where they had retreated to Neuss and left a strong detachment at the town of Crefeld.

News of Ferdinand’s Rhine crossing had been met with consternation in Paris. The King, the new War Minister the Duke of Belle-Isle, and even Madame de Pompadour demanded Clermont to take offensive action. With this barrage of directions, Clermont would finally comply on 17 June, informing Belle-Isle of his intention to advance back to Crefeld and confront the Army of Observation. Immediately, problems arose as Belle-Isle had sent instructions to the Prince of Soubise (in command of a 24,000-man corps heading for Bohemia) to delay his eastward march and instead march north along the Rhine to attack Ferdinand’s flank the day prior. Belle-Isle had assumed that Clermont would continue to fall back. Once Clermont received Belle-Isle’s instructions, he expected that he would have to wait for Soubise, yet once Belle-Isle received Clermont’s missive of the 17th, he assumed that coordination with Soubise was too late.

This confusion only further delayed any action by Clermont, who had entrenched his army to a position south of Crefeld behind a long, thickly wooded deep ditch with steep inclines, known as the Landwehr. Once it became clear that Belle-Isle’s instructions to Soubise had been recalled, Ferdinand had already made the first move. Noticing that the Westphalian Army had entrenched itself behind the Landwehr, Ferdinand immediately decided to go on the offensive. In the early morning hours of 23 June, his forces were on the move. By 11.00 a.m. the imminence of an attack on the French position became clear. Ferdinand planned to launch a diversionary attack along the Landwehr, while the bulk of his army executed a flanking manoeuvre to take the French on their left and rear.

Ferdinand had divided his army into three corps, and five columns. Two columns would be part of a corps under Lieutenant-General August von Spörcken on the left wing. In the centre would be Lieutenant-General Christoph von Oberg, commanding one column. The final two columns would be under the command of Ferdinand himself, on the right wing. The corps of Spörcken and Oberg would take their positions without issue. Oberg’s corps had assembled at Saint-Tonis and was advancing in good order. French command would be made aware by 9.00 a.m. of Oberg’s advance from Saint-Tonis. Nevertheless, Clermont was convinced that the Allies would not attack and that they were merely protecting forage parties.

Ferdinand’s corps laboriously marched towards the town of Berschelsbaum, across a terrain of scrubs, thickets, hedges and farmsteads. There they could cross the Landwehr west of the French position. The crossing was narrow and took a long time. Ferdinand had hoped to bring the two columns across undetected. However, luck was not on Ferdinand’s side. Two loitering privates had noticed strange movements out west before realising they were witnessing an enemy troop crossing. Immediately, the message was relayed to their commanding officer, and within an hour the news had reached Clermont of Ferdinand’s movements.[A] The manoeuvre was too obvious for the commander not to realise. Ferdinand was trying to outflank him. Recognising the danger, Clermont would dispatch infantry to attack the Hanoverians gathering at Berschelsbaum.

Having been discovered, Ferdinand would give the order for Spörcken and Oberg to attack. The artillery of Oberg’s Corps would open against the French positions, dealing considerable damage. However, it was too little too late. The Westphalian Army was able to hold its own against the attack on their northern flank. Upon the discovery of Ferdinand’s corps, Clermont would hastily send his artillery pieces towards his left wing, and it would soon open fire upon the much-unprepared troops. Ferdinand’s two columns at Berschelsbaum would soon begin retreating. Clermont’s cavalry would give chase to the Hanoverians and send them reeling across the great ditch. By the time that Ferdinand could reorganise, nightfall was approaching. Having failed to remove the French from their positions, and Clermont having established new positions further north, Ferdinand had no other option than to abandon his position and retreat north. Clermont, with his usual ambivalence, would fail to give chase to the retreating Hanoverians.


The Battle of Crefeld, romanticised over a century later in 1860.

It would take a few days for Ferdinand to reorganise his forces, encamping in the town of Rheinberg. Clermont’s indecisive attitude proved to be a saving grace, and while the French had cut down Ferdinand’s numbers in the battle, the Westphalian Army had failed to fully capitalise off of their victory at Crefeld. Discouraged by the outcome of the battle, an exasperated Frederick would use the defeat at Crefeld to try and convince London that the measures taken to supplement the Army of Observation were by no means satisfactory. News of the defeat was disquieting, but not discouraging to those in London. It was argued that setbacks were to be expected, and the fact that the defeat had not been disastrous as Hastenbeck was a relief.

The limited success of the St. Malo expedition had also served to feed into this cautiously optimistic attitude, having done considerable damage to the French. Before news of Crefeld had arrived, and as part of the culmination of his changing attitudes towards continental involvement, Pitt had performed a dramatic about-face by proposing that 6,000 men from the St. Malo expedition should upon their return be dispatched to Germany. Crefeld would initiate a serious debate within the Cabinet, with the defeat causing consternation among some. Ultimately, it would be agreed upon by the ministers that Britain should go forth with the plan to increase deployment in Germany. This would include the 6,000 men from the St. Malo expedition along with some presently unemployed cavalry units. The total number would be around 8,000. The attitude of most in London was still favourable to continental involvement, but the defeat at Crefeld had undoubtedly caused an unspoken feeling of disquiet to some.

At Versailles, the mood was that of careful elation. Many were careful to minimise any fanfare with the memories of the Hanoverian Campaign of 1757 still fresh on their minds. Despite his victory, Clermont would soon be forced out of his position as commander of the Army of Westphalia. His fate had been decided even before the battle had begun, in a ministerial meeting between Bernis, Belle-Isle and Pâris du Vernay.[C] His fate was sealed further by his failure to fully capitalise off of the victory, which had reportedly made Belle-Isle ‘leap up in furious anger’ upon hearing reports of the battle’s aftermath. In July, he would silently be replaced by Louis Georges, Marquis of Contades. There was cautious optimism that Crefeld would be a turning point in the war equivalent to a French Rossbach.

Ferdinand had been badly shaken, but not stirred. Despite officially being independent of Frederick’s command, Ferdinand would still receive the same chastisement that Frederick often dished out to his subordinates. In his letters to Ferdinand, Frederick would berate the commander for his blunder, and for his fluctuating confidence.[D] In these letters, he had also lampooned France’s military capabilities, saying that Crefeld had been a ‘victory of chance’.

Chance would soon prove itself to be on the side of France.

[1] Which is around 20.4 to 52.8 billion modern-day USD. At least according to my quick calculations.
[2] Britain had offered 3 million Thaler, which Frederick refused. He demanded 4 million instead and was granted it without question.

Timeline Notes
A. This is the PoD. Ferdinand had pulled off a risky manoeuvre OTL and was able to make it undetected, gaining the upper hand later on in the battle against France with their flank. The Hanoverian advance was almost repelled by French cavalry OTL, but it was beaten back by Prussian cavalry. I chose the (by a few hours) earlier PoD because it would have given France the biggest opportunity to win the battle.
B. Perhaps the biggest deviation from what I had originally written in my first shot at the timeline, more in-depth research has revealed the complex situation in London to me. The St. Malo expedition had considerably boosted British morale, to the point where even Pitt was making grand gestures about extending British involvement on the continent. From what I’ve gathered, I believe that even with Crefeld being a defeat, Pitt and Newcastle would still opt to go forward with increasing Britain’s troop commitment on the mainland, especially with TTL’s Crefeld being a minor defeat, though the ramifications are coming.
C. OTL his fate had been decided before the battle as well, and even if he had scored a victory I doubt that he would be kept as commander of the Westphalian Army. He was too unpopular among both his troops and in Versailles. It didn’t help that Belle-Isle’s son served under Clermont and wrote scathing letters denouncing Clermont to his father, and was also mortally wounded during the OTL Battle.
D. Even OTL, Frederick still berated Ferdinand while he led the Army of Observation. It didn't help that Ferdinand suffered from crises of confidence.
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Frederick the Great would have to contend with a rude awakening. Already in the month prior he had faced perturbation from the defeat of Ferdinand of Brunswick at Crefeld. Yet he remained confident in his continued Siege of Olmütz, the prospects of the Austrian relief army lifting the siege seeming grim. However, the army of Count Leopold von Daun would succeed in crossing the Morawa River undetected on July 1, in a particularly cunning manoeuvre. The siege had thus been effectively relieved without a battle. Having been confident that Daun would have to face the King on his terms, the Austrian Marshal had effected a role reversal.

Even more damning yet was the ambush carried out by Ernst Gideon von Laudon on Prussia’s supply convoy heading to Olmütz. Of the supplies heading to relieve the besieging Prussian Army, 100 wagons would reach them. Nearly 3,000 had fallen into Austrian hands, alongside 3,000 Prussian casualties for a modest 600 Austrians.[1] The setbacks left Frederick with few more options than to withdraw. Daun’s Army would follow behind. Daun has been much criticised, both at the time and subsequently by historians, for his lackadaisical pursuit of the Prussians. His defenders pointed out the devastating results brought about by rash offensive action taken in the year prior, so for now operational decisions were left to his discretion.


Ernst Gideon von Laudon, later remembered as one of Frederick’s most successful opponents

Frederick’s retreat in Bohemia was simultaneously occurring with the French Campaigns in Western Germany. The aftermath of Crefeld had instilled confidence in Belle-Isle, who was now quick to action. The window for France to capitalise off of their victory was closing, and on July 3 the news of Clermont’s relief from command would reach the Westphalian Army encamped at Moers. His replacement, the Marquis of Contades, was an unknown, and a compromise candidate as Belle-Isle and Bernis had desired the return of Marshal D’Estrées, who had refused citing health reasons.[2] It would fall to this upstart to push Ferdinand back into Hanover, though a decision had already been made in Versailles that would ease his task considerably.

A force of roughly 30,000 led by the Prince of Soubise was on its way to Bohemia to reinforce France’s Austrian and Imperial allies. Soubise’s order to march to Bohemia was countermanded on the eve of Crefeld and then reaffirmed shortly thereafter. Both Bernis and Belle-Isle questioned the feasibility of the operation, and would finally manage to convince King Louis XV in the wake of Crefeld. The auxiliary force led by Soubise, rather than continue on their march to Bohemia, would instead be given the directive to march north into Hesse-Cassel. From there, the Army of Observation could be trapped and destroyed by concerted action between Contades and Soubise. On July 7, Soubise’s Auxilliary Corps would reach its rendezvous at Hanau, where it was joined by 6,000 Württembergers. While it had not reached its projected manpower, Soubise’s Corps totalled about a sizable force of 24,000 men. The next day, Soubise would break camp and begin the march into Hesse. Contades would arrive at Rheinhausen on the 9th.

Ferdinand had been placed in a particularly difficult position. News of reinforcements to the Westphalian Army highlighted a bleak reality to the commander. Ferdinand had decided to retreat across the Rhine, crossing on Allied bridges at Rees which were destroyed thereafter.[A] On July 12, the Army of Westphalia would begin their march in pursuit of the Army of Observation. Meanwhile, Soubise was making quick work of any resistance that the Hessians could muster. Hesse-Cassel was one of the few states in the Holy Roman Empire to be allied with the Prussians, and its total defensive forces amounted to just around 6,000 men. Hessian towns fell like dominoes. Marburg on the 13th, Cassel on the 23rd.

Prince Johann Kasimir of Isenburg-Bündingen, commander of the Hessian army, would choose to stop retreating and instead make a stand at Sandershausen, where his troops would face an advance guard of 7,000 led by Victor-François, Duke of Broglie. What followed was a brief, but bitterly contested, engagement. Broglie began the assault on Isenburg's position with an infantry advance that was turned back by the Hessian cavalry. They in turn were forced to retreat by the French cavalry, who in turn were stopped by the Hessian infantry. Waves of alternating infantry and cavalry almost gave the Hessians the advantage until their inexperienced militia battalions broke. Isenburg was forced to abandon the fight. The French lost over 1,400 men in the engagement, the Hessians around 2,400, of whom nearly 2,200 were prisoners.

Isenburg would retreat into Hanover. He was not pursued, as the French had now accomplished their objective of occupying Hesse. With Soubise now the master of Hesse, Hanover would be under threat once more. The main body of Soubise’s army would arrive in Cassel on July 25. Here he would remain idle in his camp at Zwehren for two weeks, for as long as Contades did not cross the Lippe, Soubise's Army wouldn’t be able to advance in Hanover beyond the Werra River.

As Soubise continued to wait for his colleague, his troops would participate in the soldier’s favourite pastime, looting and plundering. The French were in control of virtually the entire principality and quickly made good the mandate to live off the land. Bitter local resentment led to peasants shooting at French soldiers, which in turn made Soubise resort to draconian measures. Peasants were hanged and villages burned to the ground. Prominent officials were taken hostage and there was merciless extortion of contributions in cash and kind. Cassel would be thoroughly looted in the two weeks or so it had been occupied. By the time Soubise departed Cassel to begin his campaign in Hanover, an estimated 6.5 million Austrian Gulden’s worth of extortions and loot had been taken from Hesse.[3]

On July 18, Contades army had completed its crossing of the Rhine via the construction of bridges at the town of Xanten. On July 20, the Westphalian Army would establish quarters on the outskirts of the town of Hamminkeln, where he stood at odds with the Army of Observation, which had established defensive positions at the Bocholt. As Clermont’s replacement, Contades suffered from a similar affliction of indecisiveness. One of his subordinates, Lieutenant-General François de Chevert, would urge Contades to attack Ferdinand on July 21 as France had both numerical superiority and stronger positions.(B) Contades would dismiss his urges, telling Chevert that they would go to battle the day after. That night, Ferdinand had intended to attack the Westphalian Army. However, he would find the French position too strong and his too weak. He had then decided to retreat in a north-easterly direction towards the town of Coesfeld, where some Allied troops were stationed. As Contades prepared to give battle, he would come to realise that Ferdinand’s Army had already retired.

Slightly delayed by sporadic rainfall, the Army of Observation would reach Coesfeld on July 28. Ferdinand would be closely shadowed by Contades, who had left Hamminkeln on the 23rd, and on the 29th established his camp at Recklinghausen some 22 miles south of Coesfeld.[C] On the night of July 31, Contades would march north to offer Ferdinand battle. The terrain surrounding Coesfeld was for the most part flat farmland interspersed with trees. Ferdinand’s 30,000 or so men in the Army of Observation had established positions in Barns and Farmhouses at the hamlet of Flamschen. Ferdinand had intended to refrain from combat with the French until the arrival of the British contingent that had set sailing on July 19 under Charles Spencer, Duke of Marlborough. Yet, Contades had placed his army in a rather weak position, and with his confident goading, Ferdinand would duly accept battle. On August 1, Ferdinand ordered his batteries to fire on the French.

The Battle of Coesfeld would be a bloody affair. Ferdinand’s bombardment had created numerous openings along Contades’ forward positions, with the initial bombardment alone killing around 200 Frenchmen. Contades had positioned the entire Westphalian Army in an open position across the plain, with no geographical features nor manmade structures to defend themselves. With the French lines battered, the Hanoverian infantry would march forth. The first infantry charge would be indecisive, with the amount of bloodshed being about equal on both sides. Contades’ troops’ morale was faltering, and his position was weak. Realising the danger, he would make the call to retreat against a stretch of trees, whilst ordering his battery to reply to the Hanoverians’ fire. Though it seemed that the scales were tipping towards Ferdinand, Contades would manage to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. With the Hanoverian line weakened, Contades would order some battalions of grenadiers and infantry to capture the barn houses from the Hanoverians. The combat over the barns would be an hours-long back and forth between French and Hanoverian troops, though the French would ultimately prevail. With the barn houses now in French hands, Contades would order his cavalry to begin charging.

The charge of the French Cavalry would prove disastrous for the Hanoverians. The now-exposed Army of Observation would be sent reeling across the plains. Already weak as a result of their long retreat across the Rhine, this charge would shatter the Hanoverians’ esprit de corps. The Hanoverian Army of Observation would begin to rout. French Cavalry would continue pursuing the fleeing Hanoverians, further cutting down their numbers. Ferdinand, along with the remnants of the Army of Observation, would flee to Münster. The Battle of Coesfeld would see Contades and Ferdinand losing around 4,900 and 5,200 men respectively. It would appear that once again chance had granted France victory. For this achievement, otherwise, to give an unknown some profile, Contades would be awarded a marshal’s baton.[D]


An aerial view of the plains of Flamschen, where the Battle of Coesfeld was waged.

Organising the remainder of his forces at Münster, Ferdinand was unsure what to do next. Outnumbered, and with weak morale among his troops, Ferdinand decided to retreat to the fortress of Minden. As reinforcements, he would take on some couple hundred recruits taken from the country along the way, along with the Garrison of Münster, leaving the town vulnerable to French occupation. At Minden, Ferdinand’s hopes lay in achieving a junction with the British contingent, which had arrived on August 1 and would complete disembarking on August 3. With these reinforcements, Ferdinand had hoped that he could successfully fight a defensive battle to drive away Contades, the Allied army’s positions strengthened by the fortifications at Minden. Marlborough would begin marching from Emden to Minden on August 5, while Ferdinand had begun the journey from Münster two days prior.

With Ferdinand temporarily out of his way, Contades would begin the move eastwards. Münster would fall to the French on the 5th, where Contades would station a garrison of 300 troops. Though Contades would have liked to keep on moving, it became clear to him that his troops were exhausted. Thus, the Westphalian Army would spend the nights of the 5th and 6th stationed in Münster. In comparison to the French treatment of Cassel, the occupation of Münster was a much nicer affair. Looting was less rampant, with the French spending the night either celebrating their victory or mourning their dead. The amount of money raised by what was looted is unclear, though a rough estimation would place it at around 1.5 million Gulden (or 3.7 million Livres Tournois). By the morning of August 7, the Westphalian Army would be on the move once more.

By the evening of August 8, Contades would reach his target. The town of Bielefeld, where he could establish headquarters. It was also close enough for Soubise to begin campaigning into Hanover with his support. He would send off a messenger to Cassel immediately upon their arrival. The towns of Bielefeld and Cassel would be the staging grounds for the next phase of Belle-Isle’s plans. As the main body of the Westphalian Army was arriving at Bielefeld, Contades had sent a corps under the command of the Marquis of Armentières towards Emden. Awaiting them at Emden was a British garrison of 400 who had arrived alongside Marlborough’s contingent. Once Armentières had arrived at Emden on the 10th, resistance was brief, and the port would fall into French hands once more. The port would remain in French hands for the remainder of the war, severing Prussian access to British supplies and more importantly subsidies.[E]

Soubise would receive the news of Contades’ arrival on August 9. He would decide to embark as immediately as he could, being on the 10th. After two weeks of staying idle, Soubise’s army was once again on the offensive. Prince Isenburg had reoccupied Göttingen on the same day. While Soubise was idle in Kassel, Isenburg had been reinforced by some Hanoverian jägers and was now with a force of approximately 7,500 men. However, he would soon realise that French forces vastly outnumbered his, and would retire just the next day. Soubise would reach Göttingen with his army on the 12th, retaking possession of the town. The 12th would also mark the arrival of the British contingent at Minden, which meant that Ferdinand now held command over a considerable 38,000 troops. What is more, the arrival of the British to some extent counteracted the problem of declining morale that the arduous retreat, disastrous defeat, and news of Soubise’s successes in Hesse had occasioned.

For, the British had also arrived with news that the key French fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in Canada had fallen in July, aptly deemed the single greatest success of the British to that point in the war. The prospect of warding off the French now seemed even more achievable than he had thought.

[1] The Battle of Domstadtl.
[2] This had been the case OTL as well, though some sources claim that D’Estrées was not recalled due to numerous powerful men despising him, including Duvernay.
[3] The same figure as OTL, which is around 390 million USD.

Timeline Notes
A. I believe that it's unclear whether the destruction of Allied bridges had slowed Contades’ crossing of the Rhine, or if it was the destruction of the French-constructed bridges or both.
B. Something similar had happened OTL on 14 July, when Contades had established positions at Gommershoven near Bedburg.
C. For the record, I’m not an American. You can take this how you will about the establishment of the metric system.
D. It must be noted that Contades was a rather mediocre general, with the same tendency as Clermont to be indecisive. IOTL, he was awarded a Marshal’s baton for completing the crossing of the Rhine.
E. It was for this reason that Frederick so desperately demanded reinforcements to the garrison at Emden.
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