200. Going places
«Дым столбом - кипит, дымится пароход...
Russia, Far East.
Пестрота, разгул, волненье,
Веселится и ликует весь народ!
Веселится и ликует весь народ! И
быстрее, шибче воли
Поезд мчится в чисто поле.» Глинка, «Попутная песня» 
«Со временем (по расчисленью
Лет чрез пятьсот) дороги, верно,
У нас изменятся безмерно:
Шоссе Россию здесь и тут,
Мосты чугунные чрез воды
Шагнут широкою дугой,
раздвинем горы, под водой
Пророем дерзостные своды,
И заведет крещеный мир
На каждой станции трактир.»
Пушкин, «Евгений Онегин» 
«If we take into account that our foreign trade, and even much less domestic, does not require hasty delivery of goods, it becomes obvious that railways are useless for Russia.»
Maurice Destrem, Lieutenant General of the Corps of Transportation Engineers 
«Жить захочешь - не так раскорячишься» 
While the discussions regarding usefulness of the steam-based transportation were still going on, not only the private sector was actively using it but even some administrators for whom it was a matter of survival of their territory. And the #1 on that list was General-Governorship of the Eastern Siberia, which included a huge territory with not too much of a population and even less in the terms of communications. To add to the problem, most of the rivers were flowing in the “wrong” direction leaving only the Amur as a transportation artery going from west to east and providing a reasonably inexpensive way of moving the people and cargo to the Pacific coast. The alternatives were (a) old land route (“route” is not the same as “good road”) toward Okhotsk and circumnavigation.
Thanks to the new treaties with China the Amur was open for transportation but without the steamers this transportation was going almost exclusively downstream by the barges and rafts. With the taiga forest going all the way to the river’s bank, it was impossible to use the usual means (horses or humans) of getting the barges upstream and the current was too strong to row a laden barge upstream.
The first steamer on the Amur had been built almost at the same time as “Elizabeth”. A rich merchant from Irkutsk donated 100,000 rubles for introduction of the steamships on the Shilka-Amur. The state metallurgic plants of Ural had been busy building engines for the Caspian flotilla (and when did a state official was enthusiastic about taking an additional work?) but a private plant in Ekaterinburg took an order for two engines. Soon enough its owner proposed to buy the whole plant and to move its equipment to the Petrovsky Plant on the Shilka. This would actually be much cheaper than transportation of the finished equipment from Ekaterinburg and also allow to start a local equipment production for the future steamships to operate on the Shilka, Amur and other regional rivers. As per established procedure, results of the river research and blueprints of the ship had been sent to the Main Naval Staff and, predictably, had been severely criticized. However, this criticism was too late because Governor-General Muraviev already had the project going full steam (no pun intended) ahead and simply ignored the criticism.
The main problem was actually a low quality of the locally available iron (usually for the serious projects a high quality iron was transported from Ural and was costly). The first two steamers, “Argun” and “Shilka” had been fully iron, the wood was used only for the decks, masts, etc.
With a displacement of 85 tons, the steamer had to have a length along the cargo waterline of 26.5 m, the largest length (oversized) - 33.5 m, width - 6.7 m, and on rowing wheel drifts - 11.3 m, hold depth - 2.7 m, and precipit in full load - 0.8 m. Almost two-thirds of the length of the vessel was to be occupied by a boiler plant, which included two box-type steam boilers with a steam pressure of up to three atmospheres and a two-cylinder direct-acting steam engine with rotating cylinders with a capacity of 60 hp. Two rowing wheels, 4.3 m in diameter, with fixed wooden faces were to be placed on the sides.
“Argun" went on its first voyage on May 14 1812 at the head of a large caravan of ships consisting of 5 boats, 4 velbots, 18 barges, 13 barges, 8 die boots, and 29 rafts. Up to a thousand soldiers and Cossacks were placed on these ships and rafts, and about 100 thousand poods of various cargoes. With the various stops, on June 25 “Argun” reached the outpost Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, a new port in the Amur’s delta. After 8 years of the intensive exploitation the ship was decommissioned
This first trip established a reliable communication along the Amur and triggered development of the Nikolaevsk-on-Amur. Within 2 years it became the biggest Russian port on the Far East with the population of 1,757, ship repair and assembly plant and pilots’ school. Commercial traffic on the Amur was securely established and the port was open for a foreign trade. Later the main port had been transferred to Vladivostok but the city gradually became the center of Far Eastern gold miners. There was a gold-melting laboratory, as well as offices of the Okhotsk and Amur-Orelian gold mining companies. This boosted the declining city’s population to almost 6,000.
Navigation on the Amur had been open for approximately 6 months in a year. During the winter the traffic was going by an ice: with a thickness of over 1.5 meters this was quite reliable and later even the seasonal “winter railroad” was established (during the navigational period it was by the ferry) to get people and cargo across the Amur.
Opening of the ship-building and repairing facilities, later extended by by those of Vladivostok allowed the local construction of both commercial and (small to mid-sized) steamships, which considerably lowed the cost and improved trade with Japan and China. The longer voyages would require the bigger ships and the coaling infrastructure along the routes, which was the common problem for all sea-going nations. With Russia lacking its own overseas colonies, for the long voyages its ships had to rely upon the coaling stations in the ports of friendly colonial powers which meant that Russia needed as many friends (with the colonies) as possible.
European Russia outside Moscow.
There was a significant shift in the trade pattern of the manufactured consumer goods, especially product of the metallurgic industry. Traditionally, a producer
, was transporting his goods to the fairs (the biggest one was in Makariev and then Nizhy Novgorod) and here was trying to sell as much as possible while it was open (2 weeks).
At the beginning of the XVII century, cost of the brought goods reached 80 thousand, in the second half of the XVII century - 490 thousand, and by the end of the XVII century - 30 million rubles. At that time, there were 1,400 fair spaces in Makaryev. In addition, another 1,800 shops were built by the merchants. The Treasury of the Russian Empire received 15 thousand rubles from the renting of shops in 1790, and in 1810 - up to 120 thousand.
Of course, for the major producers of the manufactured goods this was far from being ideal: they had to sell big amounts of various items in a rather short time which gave the buyers a bargaining advantage. These buyers were, of course, not the end consumers but the merchants who later could sell the goods in their shops to the individual consumers without a rush. The producer also did not know what is a realistic demand on the specific items in this specific year and if the goods were not sold at the fair he would have to carry them back all the way to his plant’s warehouses. All this had been adding to the cost of production.
Gradually but steadily the system was being replaced by the long term (at least year-based) contracts with the big-scale buyers who would be getting manufactured products at the plant warehouse and from here transport it to the final destinations (their own warehouses close to the “consumption areas”). They, in turn, could be be an intermediate link to the small-scale sellers dealing with the real consumers. The big fairs mostly became the places where the samples
were shown and contracts made.
However, there were also “small-scale fairs” all over the empire. They did not have the impressive accommodations of the big ones and were mostly attended by the small-scale sellers (sometimes with a “capital” amounting to few rubles) and the consumers allowing to bring the goods to the small towns and the rural areas.
The growing network of the railroads and the river-going steamers allowed considerable increase of the domestic trade’s volume. The major railroad projects connecting production centers with the ports were taking time to implement but the shorter, domestic-oriented railroads started appearing in a relatively high rate. Of course, the obvious issue was geography: the distances were big and, no matter in which direction you were going, there were numerous rivers to cross. The “outside Moscow” (Central) industrial region had been getting close to its highest limit due to the shortage of the needed natural resources but the Southern region was growing fast increasing its production almost ten-fold in few years and already bypassing Ural: to grow all regions needed cast iron, iron, coal and the rails and the South soon enough became the major producer of these items with the Central region going heavier into the mechanicals’ production.
There was a touchy scene of a family reunion immediately after the new French Ambassador presented his credentials to the Emperor. It would be naive to expect that Alexander, with his taste to the theatricals, is going to miss a splendid opportunity to turn an ordinary diplomatic event into a spectacle. After the credentials were duly delivered, here they were, the Generalissimo (just for the occasion) in a full dress uniform accompanied by his (and ambassador’s) brother in law in his splendid hussar uniform with their wives. Alexander uttering some “historic witticism” , the brothers , all three of them, are embracing, then the females on both sides are kissing each other, the males and pretty much everybody else who was hanging close enough and did not manage to escape. There was later a speculation what exactly the Ambassador whispered to Generalissimo’s ear after which his smile became somewhat frozen  but anyway, symbolism was obvious and clear to everybody: by sending as an ambassador brother of the Generalissimo the Consulate makes it clear that the cordial relations with Russia are on the top of its foreign policy agenda . This was properly understood and duly appreciated, especially in a view of the fact that so far there were no serious contention issues even as far as the Ottomans were involved.
Things were more or less back to what could be described as “normal”. Stein was blamed for the debacle of the Great Polish War being considered (justifiably or not) one of its negotiators and had to retire. The rest of the blame was directed toward the Perfidious Austrians. The military establishment, somewhat shaken by the defeat, mostly hold its ground based upon combination of blaming Austria and receiving the public compliments from a victor. Some
reforms were obviously needed but it was a general opinion that under the circumstances the army performed quite well and there is no need of any drastic changes. The same goes for everything else: the Edict of Emancipation was proposed and rejected but a municipal reform was accepted.
was untypically quiet. Of course, there were voices calling for a complete restoration of the state to its pre-partition borders but they were mostly heard after consumption of the great amounts of liquor because everyone with a modicum of brain considered this course impractical. Prince Joseph Poniatowski was in charge as a proxy of his father in law (who preferred to remain in Saxony) and heir presumptive to the throne. Status of a national hero, loyalty of the troops and glory of the last war made any competition unrealistic. Not that he was an outstanding statesman but he was quite capable of keeping things quiet and this was just fine. With the Prussian de facto blockade of the Polish trade gone, the country was back to the sustainable level.
The main development worth noticing was starting the textile industry in Lodz region. The area had a long history of the extensive usage of the water mills and this was quite important for the future developments. It was necessary to attract experienced specialists to the Lodź region - spinners and weavers. The government reasoned as follows: the shortage of skilled workers can be eliminated if they are invited from other places. At the same time, a long-established and, apparently, decisive incentive - benefits and privileges - was applied. Especially since the treaty between the victorious powers allowed residents of the divided territories to migrate freely within 6 years in search of work and place of residence, and, if necessary, to return to their homeland.
Together with the cloths and spinners, the owners of capital were to come, without whom all the good intentions of the authorities would remain only on paper. Entrepreneurs sought to build factories, invest in production and make a profit.
By attracting the right people, the government kept its promises: brick factories, cloth felting workshops, spinning and textile rooms were built with state money, new settlers were provided with land, fuel and material for the construction of schools and churches. The call was attended mainly by Germans - Lutherans. And the authorities, rightly believing that people will need spiritual help in the traditions of the fatherland, ordered to build churches and housing for pastors.
Specialists from various regions of the German-speaking space came, as it was there that traditional textile centers existed.
The city of Lodz grew rapidly - weavers rushed here - specialists and other masters of linen and cotton. And this was largely facilitated by the government's policy of producing linen and cotton fabrics, but mainly cotton fabrics.
So for a while Poland was quiet and quite busy and its neighbors could relax.
had a big grudge against pretty much all its neighbors and one of the newly-appearing items was a little game played by the Ottomans. They hold control over the Sulina channel, the only navigable branch of the LowerDanube, which connected the river with the Black Sea, and were making the Austrian life interesting by establishing quarantines and custom posts on it impeding the traffic and even arbitrarily preventing the merchandise from getting through. It would be tempting to kick these bastards out, annex all territory to the mouth of the Danube (or put the Principalities under the Austrian “protection”) and then, guaranteeing a free sailing through the Straits, open a new “natural artery of Europe”.
Well, there were few tiny problems. First, while Mahmud II with his new inexperienced army did not look as a critical obstacle, Russia may be opposite to happy with this grandiose plan and result of such an unhappiness was well-known. Second, to force a free trade through the Straits one needed a very serious naval power, which Austria did not posses. Out of all possible candidates only Britain looked as a potentially plausible ally both in the terms of a naval power and in its interest in expanding the trade. But would its government be interested enough to get engaged in such a schema?
. With French seemingly getting ahead of them in establishing control over some places important either strategically or economically, the British government had to act fast figuring out what to grab and how to do it fast.
The Consulate was dealing with few important issues:
- Full economic and cultural integration of Belgium and the left bank of the Rhine into the Republic.
- Building up the navy in such a way that Britain is not going to consider it a competitor until it is too late.
- Strengthening control over the territories which France already grabbed in Africa and Asia and figuring out the new profitable targets.
- Preventing Davout from trying to conquer too much of the Sahara Desert.
- Trying to keep population happy.
- Trying to figure out a future of the Consulate system.
“Pillar of smoke - boiling, steaming steamer ...
Diversity , rampant , excitement ,
Expectations, impatience ...
Sing and rejoice all the people !
Sing and rejoice all the people !
And faster shibche will
The train rushes in the open field .” Glinka “Road Song”
 “Over time (by calculation
Of the Philosophical tables,
Five hundred years later) our roads, probably,
Will change immensely:
Highways will cross Russia here and there,
Cast iron bridges will stretch in the wide arcs
Across the waters,
We’ll move aside the mountains, underwater
We’ll dig the daring tunnels,
And the baptized world
Will establish an inn at each station.” Pushkin ‘Eugene Onegin’
 A solid professional
opinion backed up by a reasonable argument that the Russian climate "does not allow you to have railways." The earth is sometimes wet, sometimes frozen, sometimes dry, you can't put rails on it, in winter - snow, in spring - river floods can stop railway communication at all (
). Which did not prevent him from later being quite useful in a construction of the St-Petersburg - Moscow RR. Which fits well into what Saltykov-Schedrin defined as an order-based behavioral model: whatever your personal opinion could be (if you have any), you’ll change it based upon the order you received. In his initial opinion he was backed up by the Finance Minister, Count Kankrin, who considered the whole idea excessively expensive. “The construction of one road, for example, at least to Kazan, should be considered premature for several centuries... At the same time, it is impossible to allow the use of steam traffic on the roads, as this would lead to the final destruction of forests, and meanwhile there is no coal in Russia.”
(actually, by that time in Donbass only the annual coal extraction in 1820s was over 250,000 puds of coal raising to over 1,000,000 by 1850 and over 3,000,000 by 1870
) but all these considerations had been beaten by a trump card, the Emperor’s personal opinion. The same, BTW, happened in OTL with the Russian settlements in the Amur delta and the whole border readjustment: Cabinet of Ministers was against anything that could provoke a conflict with China but you can guess who got a final word. “Where the Russian flag is hoisted, is a Russian territory. Nicholas.”
 Quote from the Russian movie “Specifics of the national hunting”. Not easy to translate but it means “if you want to live, you’ll do whatever is necessary”. In the movie it is a reference to a cow hiding in a bomb compartment of a plane and taking care of not being dropped when a hatch was open (see below).
 Sorry, could not come with anything more moronic than “Doctor Livingston, I presume.” (yeah, besides you and him there are presumably no white people for the months worth of travel in any direction so who else could he be? A Santa Clause?). So everybody is free to come with whatever you like.
 Actually, Nappy and Lucien did not like each other too much. Lucien had much more cordial relations with Bernadotte.
 This is easy: “Now they [Pauline and Louis] are you problem!”.
 Contrary to the popular legend (mostly invented after Napoleon’s fall and heavily based upon the crap spreed by Marbot), relations between Napoleon and Bernadotte were mostly good. The aggravating factors were Berthier (who hated Bernadotte since the first Italian campaign) and Bernadotte’s tendency to get engaged in the gasconades (sometimes at Nappy’s expense). But usually, these relations had been easily patched: a gasconade could be not only offensive but flattering as well and Nappy was a true sucker to an outrageous flattery.