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1916: Romania, Battle of Nations» Forums » General

Subject: 100 years ago today... rss

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Paul
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"Capitaine Conan," by Roger Vercel (1934).
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On 27 August, 1916, Romania entered the war on the side of the Entente. Detachments of three Romanian armies immediately crossed into Transylvania to secure deployment areas for the country's forces that were still mobilizing. To the south, a weak army, made up of mostly militia and reserve troops guarded the Dobrogea area and the Danube against Bulgaria. Help was pledged from the Salonika Army and also from the Russians in support.

The initial Romanian advance made good progress against weak Austro-Hungarian forces, as the Central Powers rushed reinforcements to the region. To the south, the Romanians were unfortunate enough to face the extremely competent and energetic Field Marshal August von Mackensen. Mackensen launched the Bulgarian IIIrd Army, supported by German units across the border immediately, and within days the Romanian fortified position of Turtukan fell (the Verdun on the Danube as it was known in Bucharest).

The Romanian command and Government were deeply shaken by the fall of Turtukan, and the large losses they suffered there--coming at the outset of the campaign, this was a huge setback, and immediately the plans for Transylvania began to unravel as troops were sent to the south. It also shook the country's and army's confidence against the Bulgarians.

Going on the defensive in the north, the Romanians could only try to hold the Carpathian passes against growing Central Power forces, while the help from the Allied forces in Salonika and Russians to the north failed to materialize.

The Romanian high command made many errors during the campaign, one of them being the constant shifting of forces to the north and south. Badly needed divisions spent weeks in trains moving back and forth. Also, the make up of the forces in the south invited disaster. A vast majority of active troops were sent to the north, leaving weak third and fourth class units alone in the south.

The Romanian army was numerically strong, but it was a 1914 army fighting against battle-hardened and experiences armies with 1916 techniques and technologies.

The lack of Russian support was critical in the campaign. It was a mistake both Romanians and Russians would pay heavily for. Reluctant to commit troops initially, Russia would eventually send 1/4 of her fighting forces to the Romanian Front--over 25 corps.

The Romanians suffered huge casualties during the campaign, but made a decision to evacuate the army to safety and fight on. In 1917 Romanian forces would launch successful attacks and show how much they had learned.
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Andrew B
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What piqued your interest for this particular part of the war?

It's not a subject I've seen brought up outside of the Romanian educational system.
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Paul
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"Capitaine Conan," by Roger Vercel (1934).
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andrewbwm wrote:
What piqued your interest for this particular part of the war?

It's not a subject I've seen brought up outside of the Romanian educational system.


Good question. It's a fascinating campaign, with so many nationalities involved. It also makes a good gaming subject because the potential for the Romanians to do better than they did historically is very high.

It's also interesting as it pits two asymmetrical forces against each other. The 1914 (or even pre-war) large Romanian Army with the battle-hardened 1916 Central Powers. It's also one of the only campaigns where cavalry played a critical (and effective role).
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Andrew B
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hedererp wrote:
Good question. It's a fascinating campaign, with so many nationalities involved. It also makes a good gaming subject because the potential for the Romanians to do better than they did historically is very high.


That makes sense. The history textbooks mostly focus on the tremendous losses on both sides.

hedererp wrote:
It's also interesting as it pits two asymmetrical forces against each other. The 1914 (or even pre-war) large Romanian Army with the battle-hardened 1916 Central Powers. It's also one of the only campaigns where cavalry played a critical (and effective role).


It's funny, I'd never considered that the Romanian Army was seen as a large force. If you are interested in playtesters let me know. My group doesn't play that many wargames, but I might be able to coerce them with this one.
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Paul
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"Capitaine Conan," by Roger Vercel (1934).
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Quote:
It's funny, I'd never considered that the Romanian Army was seen as a large force. If you are interested in playtesters let me know. My group doesn't play that many wargames, but I might be able to coerce them with this one.


The Central Powers were really strapped for manpower--Verdun and the Somme were still underway--the Brusilov Offensive had just inflicted massive casualties on the Austro-Hungarians. The entry of an army with 23 over-sized divisions was a matter of serious concern. It's often overlooked that the Romanians weren't exactly a push-over. 43 CP divisions were eventually committed to the campaign.

I'll keep you in mind for play-testing. It's been a challenge finding dedicated players.
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