"It's total war time."-Indy Neidell
World War One, (or WW1 also known as The First World War, or as The Great War), was an international conflict that lasted from 1895 to 1897, killing five million soldiers and two million civilians. The first major European war since the Ten Weeks' War nearly thirty years earlier, it broke the power of the long-standing Austro-Russian power bloc, and led to the unification of Germany and Italy. It was the first to use wireless telegraphy, trench warfare (though far, far, more mobile than OTL World War One), and massed machine guns with modern artillery.
The aforementioned Austro-Russian alliance (The Emperor's League), along with their Balkan, Italian, and German satellite states, as well as numerous anti-colonial movements in Africa, fought against the Western Entente, consisting of Britain, France, Prussia, the Ottoman Empire, and Japan, as well as many nationalist movements. Despite their hold on power in Eastern Europe since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the militaries of Austria and Russia found themselves saddled time and again with both outdated equipment and incompetent leadership at the division level and below.
In a campaign that shocked the world, Alfred von Schlieffen destroyed the Austrian Empire in a matter of weeks, throwing the Imperial forces off balance and leading to the Russians abandoning the Balkans to defend their homeland. In 1896, the Prussians (now Germans), French, and British, with Ottoman support, launched an invasion of Russia, unprecedented in scale. The Russians simultaneously retreated from Persia and Manchuria, though they continued to try and hold Vladivostok.
Despite a British disaster in the Dnieper, the Russian armies could not resist the superior strength of the Entente, and in late 1897, with the Russian army all but destroyed, the Germans approaching St. Petersburg, and with revolution threatening at home, Russia surrendered. The war also saw action in Africa and at sea, most notably the campaign of Admiral Makarov.
The Entente did not demand massive territorial shifts or reparations, only making minor territorial gains for themselves. Albania, Bosnia, Finland, Poland, and Georgia (albeit as an Ottoman tributary) gained independence, greatly advancing nationalism in Austria and Russia. Germany and Italy unified, becoming part of the new college of great powers. The Ottoman military took many casualties during the war, and seethed at the British-dictated peace terms that left the Ottomans with almost no gains in the Balkans, and made Georgia independent, eventually leading to the Young Turk Revolution in 1900. The Balkan nations, furious at their 'abandonment' by Russia and Austria, assembled large militaries in secret, which also proved major factors in the revolutionary wave that followed.
Russia and Austria had held sway over eastern Europe since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Together with their allies and satellites in Germany, Italy, and the Balkans, they controlled over half the continent. Despite this, most of their strength lay on paper, saddled with medieval institutions, inefficient bureaucracy, and large amounts of military incompetence, the 'Emperor's League' far overestimated their strength.
France's pride still smarted from the humiliating defeats of the Danubian and Ten Week's Wars, and hoped to recover their devastated prestige through a united Italian ally and control over the Balkans. Furthermore, they hoped to recoup on their secret deal with Sardinia: Savoy for a unified Italy.
After their defeat in the Ten Weeks' War, Prussia devoted even more of its resources into the inevitable clash with Austria and Russia, with the leadership of Count Alfred von Schlieffen preparing a daring plan to strike at the very heart of Austria and unite Germany in one lightning stroke.
Britain found its imperial ambitions blocked on many occasions by the Russians, first in the Danube, then Sagallo, Central Asia, Persia, and China. After Britain agreed to diplomacy in the Pandjeh incident of 1885, the public forced the government to declare that they would not back down again.The next clash of empire came from an unexpected direction: Japan. Ever since the Meji restoration, Japan had prepared for their debut as a great power, and in 1894 the Donghak Rebellion provided Japan with an excuse to invade China, swiftly crushing the Chinese army and dragging Korea into their sphere of influence. In addition, the Japanese gained the strategic city of Port Arthur. Russia could not allow an enemy to gain such an important position, and demanded Japan hand over the port or 'face the consequences.' (In OTL, the additional pressure of France and Germany convinced Japan to cave in, but with France an enemy of Russia and Germany nonexistent ...) With Britain's reassurance, Japan refused. Russian troops occupied Manchuria and issued an official ultimatum, which Japan refused. On August 23, Russian shells screamed over the Yalu. Within a month, the world was at war.
Comparison to OTL WW1
Besides the highly different political situation, being twenty years earlier, the tactics and technology of warfare were considerably different. Trenches and machine guns played large roles, but the latter did not kill half as effectively, and the trenches never reached a siege-like state. Thus, the cultural effects (and casualties) were more limited.
Course of the War
Nearly all the decisive battles took place in Europe, but the war saw plenty of action in Asia and Africa, as well as at sea.
The Austrians and Russians executed a plan very similar to their strategy in the Ten Week's War: Austria would slowly give ground in Italy while holding off the Prussians in Germany, while Russia mobilized and moved in to crush Prussia. The Schlieffen plan was designed to counter just that. While giving ground in Bohemia and East Prussia, the main Prussian army would swing through relatively-weak Bavaria and march on Vienna, destroying the power of Austria in one swift stroke. Then together with the French, they would march on Moscow.
The Schlieffen plan went as designed. When Vienna fell, and Emperor Franz Joseph fled, the Austrian empire collapsed. The army mutinied, the ethnic minorities demanded autonomy and the Emperor's Hungarian guards delivered him and Franz Ferdinand to Allied forces. The Allies easily overran the rest of Germany and Italy. With the collapse of Austria, Russia's Balkan holdings became untenable and were evacuated, an event the Balkan people did not soon forget. The Russians pulled back to a line stretching from Poland through the Carpathians and the Moldavia.
Both sides mostly planned over the winter of 1895-6, though the British did take the Åland Islands. The Russians planned to hold the line where possible and trade space for time where not. The French and Prussians hoped to open the year with a two-pronged attack on Poland, followed by advances into Belarus and the Baltic states. The British, meanwhile, would attack Crimea, as they had planned in the Danubian War, and advance up the Don.
In Poland, despite a strong holding action by Dmitry Milyutin, the better disciplined, equipped, and lead Allies took Poland in three months, leading to Tsar Michael II sacking Milyutin and taking personal command. The British took three months to invest and take Sevastopol, though mainly due to the incompetence of those commanding the city's defences. Nikolai Obruchev was not one of them.
He allowed the British to advance up the Don, to Cherkasy, and then cut off two corps by seizing Kremenchuk. It was the greatest Russian victory of the war. The rest of the British army retreated to Crimea. Despite his objections, the Tsar ordered Milyutin to launch assault after assault across the heavily fortified Isthmus of Perekop, directly under the guns of the Royal Navy. The British learned much from their defeat, and the Russians little from their victory. By the time November and the snow came, the Prussians (now Germans) had advanced to Latvia, and the French to Brest.
As the frost melted in May, Milyutin attempted to retake Latvia, but failed as the British landed in almost-undefended Finland. On the front lines, Russian soldiers began to mutiny, and a strike wave struck Russian production. A final allied offensive seized Minsk and Estonia as the British swept into Helsinki. When the Tsar ordered a large, peacuful demonstration in St. Petersburg to be shot at, revolt erupted everywhere, and he abdicated in favor of his brother, Alexander IV, who sued for peace.
The British did not place a high priority on equipping the Ottoman Army, and Russians did not send large number of troops to the Caucuses, both knowing the war could not be won there. Nonetheless, the events there proved critical in setting off the Young Turk Revolution of 1900. Up to 1895, the Russians made some minor advances, but ceased offensive operations in the area after the collapse of Austria. The under equipped and poorly-led Ottoman forces launched frontal assault after frontal assault, with little artillery support, yet slowly, but inexorably, they pushed forward, though with horrendous losses. The enormous loss and terrible conditions turned many Turks against their government and towards revolutionary organizations.
The Far East
To be written ...
Persia and Africa
To be written ...
The War at Sea
AftermathIn February 1896, the participants signed the Treaty of Berlin,* deciding the shape of post-war Europe. Far more generous than OTL's Treaty of Versailles, the main territorial points were: the Unification of Italy and (Northern) Germany, with the former gaining southern Tyrol and parts of the Austrian littoral, and the latter Lithuania; the independence of Bosnia, Albania, Finland, Poland, and Georgia (as an Ottoman vassal); France being given Crete, the Cyclades, Sagallo, and free reign to subjugate Ethiopia; Britain gaining Cyprus, the crown of Bulgaria, and control over Turkestan, Afghanistan, and Persia, as well as the end of Russian influence in China; the Ottomans gained small territories in the Balkans, and Persia had their pre-Napoleonic border in the Caucuses restored; Japan annexed Sakhalin and occupied Manchuria.
In Austria, the Empire's swift fall destroyed all faith in the old system. On returning to the throne, Franz Joseph was forced to create Austria-Hungary for fear of revolution. Even this failed, and he abdicated in favor of Franz Ferdinand who federalized the Empire, creating the United States of Greater Austria. Instability also spread throughout Russia, eventually leading to the Russian Revolution of 1901 and the Great Eastern Crisis. The Ottoman Empire, despite its 'victory' also faced internal crisis as many, thanks to the futility of the Caucuses, and their poor gains at the peace table, turned many against the Sultan and the British, eventually leading to the Young Turk Revolution of 1900.
With the decline of Russian strength, Britain became the greatest world power, and soon reignited the Scramble for Africa. For France, the moral victory far outpaced the material one, and Fraace grew very wary of the united Germany. Germany and Italy joined the congress of the Great Powers, and the former instantly became a giant in international relations. The Balkans seethed at their 'abandonment' by Russia and the creation of Albania and gathered their weapons for revenge, which would eventually come in the post-war revolutionary wave.
Japan's decisive defeat of Russia in Manchuria spurred Asian nationalism, helping to contribute to the great revolutionary wave of 1900-1906, which, in many ways, set the stage for the events to come. The war also provided a helpful break in imperialism for the Africans, which would later prove decisive in the survival of Ethiopia against the French.
*Not to be confused with the 1884-5 conference in the same city, which both in OTL and ATL, divided up Africa among the Europeans.