Bob Lee's Body
Part I: Untitled Opening
Robert E Lee in the fall of 1859 was one of the United States Army’s most well-known and respected soldiers. Hero of Indian battles and the Mexican War, the man who saved St. Louis via his engineering skill, the son of George Washington’s trusted cavalry commander and husband of Martha’s granddaughter, former superintendent of west point, groomed successor to Winfield Scott and in just a few years’ time destined to be the most famous and glorified General of the yet-to-be-born Confederate States of America.
But before he could cement his reputation as “The Marble Man” there was one last triumph to be made for the Union. And for the sake of this discussion, the possibility of his death in combat there; the location was Harper’s Ferry and the battle would be between Lee, and the Abolitionist radical John Brown. Brown of course was attempting to seize the town, and the US Arsenal within it so as to raise an army of Escaped slaves before pushing aside the government reaction, and marching south along the mountains, and raiding the lowlands. And of course he was doomed in this attempt, no matter what. The raid was relatively a small affair considering the Civil War that would follow it, One US Marine killed, Seven dead civilians, Two dead slaves, and of course the death and capture (which meant the same thing on the far side of a trial) of all but three of Brown’s followers (Two of whom died in the Civil War.)
But there were some potshots fired from Brown’s fire-turned-blockhouse before the Marines finally were able to storm the place and break down the doors. It’s all random chance, unaimmed shots and inaccurate weapons, but what if one of the rounds of lead hit something important? Like for example, the right temple of a slightly greying, mustachioed, southern aristocrat in uniform as he peaked over one of the barricades that had been set up between his mixed forces and the rebels?
I would suggest that things would be highly effected by this in at least two fields, one being that of Southern Politics, where “The gallant Lee” will be a far more powerful lightning rod then the IOTL dead at Harper’s Ferry. The other is that of the United States Army, not only where a Colonelcy has just been opened up but where Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott has just lost his most promising and favored officer. For the sake of this bit of work I’m willing to assume that the shakeups in both of these are bound to be rather dramatic, and will in their own ways, seriously change the American Civil War right from the very start (Obviously, or what is the point of writing this?)
Robert E Lee’s body was not yet cold by the time that the Marines battered down the doors of the Harper’s Ferry fire station and killed or captured the band of Abolitionist rebels with in. John Brown was dragged off in chains, bound for a Treason trial by the State of Virginia for his crimes, and the inevitable noose that would follow. Lee on the other hand would leave Harper’s Ferry in a pine box. There would be some debate over what to do with the corpse. The Military Academy wished him brought up North to join its hallowed Graves, then there were those in Virginia that wished for him a hero’s burial in Richmond. As Southern voices grew more and more enraged over the events at the arsenal, eventually the army would acquiesce and Lee’s Tomb would begin to rise in the city, a monument to the noble son of the state, slayed by the dangerous Yankees.
The monument and the hanging of Brown would not be enough to quell the anger in the South. It was clear to many that the South was under siege now. The Republicans were now the leading opposition party to the Democrats, they wanted to end slavery, Slave Kansas was failing to gain acceptance in the North, its failure and Northern anger about the Dread Scott decision meant that the threat of Slavery being limited to just a corner of the Nation was looming once again. Now abolitionists sought to have Southern property murder their owners in their sleep, to rape their women and destroy their civilization. Harper’s Ferry, and the dead Colonel Lee were rallying calls for the most reactionary element of Southern Politics, the Fire-Eaters . Proof that they were right and that the Southern way of life was under threat; that action needed to be taken.
And it was. From Baltimore to Galveston moribund militias transformed themselves into well drilled companies, entirely new units sprung up with paramilitary furor, Bonnie Blue Flags, and names like the Cherokee Lincoln Killers and Lee’s Bodyguards (One of those was IOTL). In Washington the Southern demands grew harsher and the options for Compromise grew smaller. Stephen Douglas’ Freeport Doctrine where Slave Codes could be made in territories where Slavery was unstoppably open to try and make it harder for slave-owners, once a moderate point of compromise, now became unspeakable in the South and as evil as what Fremont and Seward peddled. There was now a non-negotiable need for a Slave Kansas, and a Federal Slave Code, Slavery needed to come to the Dakota Territory and Montana, The Free-soil status of California needed to be renegotiated. Simply put, the needs of the Fire-eaters were now more important than the needs of the “Moderates” and the needs of the accommodating Northern Democrats (Who still had to appeal to their own constituents).
The shake ups in the Army though were different. BLTG Winfield Scott had just lost the man that since the Fall of Mexico City, he had always assumed would command the next US Army in wartime, not only that but the old veteran had lost a dear friend. Lee had not been on active duty when he was killed, had he been, he would have been down in Texas, but there would have to be moves none the less, at least one important one anyway.
With the exception of Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston was the officer Scott trusted most with the army in the Country. That was why it had been Johnston who had commanded US forces in the “Utah War” against the Mormons in 1857, where he had earned a Brevet Promotion to Brigadier General.  In the Fall of 1860 he was being prepared to command the Department of the Pacific, out in California, an important command but with Lee dead perhaps too far away. Scott liked to keep his heirs close, not a transcontinental trip (Via Panama or Nicaragua depending on how William Walker and Cornelius Vanderbilt were doing at a given moment) away. But keeping Johnston east of the Rockies required shifts in commands elsewhere, and a need for someone to command from San Francisco.
For Scott the solution was easy enough. Brigadier General David Twiggs had served with Scott in Mexico, where the commanding General had developed a less then high opinion of the Georgian officer. Since that war, Twiggs had sat in San Antonio, with an eye on the Mexican border, commanding all US troops and arsenals in Texas. The suggestion was made that with the Reform (That is to say Civil) War in Mexico underway perhaps a younger commander could be assigned to protect the United States from that conflict spilling over. Twiggs in turn would get sent out to Dusty, distant California, where Scott hoped he might soon grow tired of Army life and retire for good. In the 2nd U.S. Cavalry, George H Thomas was given a brevet promotion to Colonel to fill the gap Lee had left behind, while there were several officers more senior then him the brevet nature of the promotion, the fact that Thomas had been effectively leading the force for some time due to the absence of Johnston, Lee and William Hardee, and Johnston’s whole-hearted support for the measure meant that there was little criticism.
As Scott shuffled his commanders and promotions around to fill the gap caused by the loss of Lee, Kanas continued to bleed, Congress continued to deadlock, and by the next spring, the campaign for President began. The Democrats were the first to assemble in Charleston, South Carolina in order to find the replacement for President Buchanan, the pre-eminent Doughface that had though his Pro-Southern stances alienated the North and by being a Northerner offended the Southern Delegations greatly. Just as they had in 1856 the party would thus be throwing out their incumbent and seeking a replacement. But before that could even be voted on, a platform was needed. And this is where the Fire-Eaters would cause the most trouble.
Two reports on what the platform should look like appeared. The Majority report was Pro-Southern, it called for a Federal Slave Code, Re-opening of the Slave Trade in Washington DC, The embracing of the Dread Scott decision, and continual territorial expansion (With eyes on Northern Mexico, Central America – Where hopes were pinned on more success with the Filibuster William Walker – and the Spanish Island of Cuba) as well as the standards of a low tariff, and a call for a Transcontinental Railroad . The Northern delegates balked at the idea, their minority report being based on either rejection of the Dread Scott ruling by the Freeport Doctrine, with the hope of an eventual return to Popular Sovereignty. Northern Democrats, from Tammany Hall’s delegation to Stephen A Douglas all agreeing that the South had to accept these terms, or accept the loss of every single Northern State. As the debate ebbed back and forth the Charlestonian Crowd, massively pro-slavery unsurprisingly, were screaming insults and threats at the northern delegates, and cheering every word from the Southern Fire-eaters. The convention was spiraling out of control.
When the vote was finally able to take place, after hours of objections and speeches, too few Southerners accepted the Northern pleas for compromise . The majority report passed, and then the walk-outs began. 40 Northern Delegates led by angry Tammany members stormed out, On the first ballot, Stephen A Douglas the leading Northern candidate, hated by the South now for his Freeport Doctrine and opposition to the entry of Slave Kansas, had a clear lead, of 99 ½ votes but it Convention rules demanded he receive two thirds of the total vote. The Southern delegates pledged to oppose him at all costs, and while they lacked a single candidate to unite behind, Douglas could not unite the Northerners who stayed . Then on the 12th ballot a Dark Horse was thrown in: Former Governor of Georgia, Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and current Secretary of the Treasury T. Howell Cobb. Cobb may not have been a Fire-eater but was close enough, and anyway, many prominant members of the faction quickly threw him their support. By the 15th Ballot he was uniting the remaining Doughfaces and Southern delegations behind him, on the 18th he had gotten 103 delegates to Douglas’ declined 97, and on the 19th he broke the 50% mark, With 139 ½ delegates. Suddenly a break in the nomination votes was called, then a Motion appeared to change the rules of the convention, allowing a simple majority to assure the nomination, among the remaining Northern Delegates there was uproar, several more left the hall, more left after the motion was approved . On the next Ballot, Cobb received 141 delegates, to Douglas’ 78. And then the convention exploded. As Cobb rose to the stage to accept the nomination, the crowds on the upper levels of the hall screaming with glee, the remnants of the Northern Delegations stormed out, with only a handful of doughfaces who had climbed aboard bandwagon remaining.
Inside the hall, the Southern convention made a gesture to their remaining Northern allies and the Northern public by nominating yet another Doughface as Vice President, Senator Jesse D Bright of Indiana . Outside the convention hall, the scattered, angry Northern Democrats vowed to meet again in a few weeks’ time in New York, at Tammany Hall itself to plan their own course of action in the aftermath of the convention. It was clear that either the Southerners were going to have to see reason and negotiate, or the Northern wing of the party was going to have take drastic actions.
- Worth mentioning here that by the late 1850’s Politics in the South looked like such: the Democratic Party was completely ascendant, and had been since the Southern Whigs had collapsed over the Slavery issue. The Fire-Eaters were the faction of the Democrats who were basically Southern Nationalists, the adherents of Secession who would eventually be the ones complaining that the Confederacy was too centralized. You then had the “Moderate” Democrats who were those who worked with the Northern Democrats (Hunkers and Doughfaces; Pro-South and VERY Pro-South) and who generally thought the system in the Union could work, they ranged from old Compromisers to those who wanted Federal Slave Codes for the territories, which is to say they weren’t that moderate. Then you had the Ex-Whigs, both within the Democrats and outside of them in remains of the American “Know-Nothing” Party and the less organized but aptly named Opposition Party. They would either join the “Moderates” or provide the core of Southern Unionism during the war. Note, this is a massively simplistic view of things.
 Incidentally the Second Time he held a General’s Rank, he’d already done it back during his time in the Republic of Texas, and then of course, he did it a third time after all of this.
 Just one of those was considered IOTL and not put into the Majority Southern Report. That was the Slave Trade in Washington DC. The rest is real, with the last two being thrown in as Pro-Southern things which might appeal to the North. Though the Tariff thing is immensely more popular in the South then the North and they’re neglecting to mention that the preferred Railway wouldn’t go through Illinois and Missouri, but Texas out of El Paso.
 This is a change from IOTL, there, the argument of the Northern Democrats, both Buchananite and Douglasian were able to convince many Ex-Whigs and Moderate Southerners that the Southern Platform would doom the party everywhere North of the Mason-Dixon. Increased Southern radicalism here prevents that. IOTL, it was 50 Southern Delegates who led the first walkout from the convention after the passing of the Northern Platform, the situation is now reversed.
 Douglas IOTL got a majority of the delegates, just not 2/3rds worth. He wasn’t able to unite the Northern delegates at all, including famously Ben Butler soon to be the Union General known as the “Beast” whom voted in 57 straight ballots for Senator Jefferson Davis. Walkout on Douglas’ side rather than the Fire-eaters is making things much harder for him and opens things up for the fire-eaters of course.
 IOTL at the second Democratic convention in Baltimore, after the complete Southern Walkout, Douglas instituted the same rule change to get the nomination then and there. It’s not impossible to imagine a similar situation breaking out at this much more hectic convention, in reverse.
 Bright was so Pro-Southern a man that he would be the only Northerner expelled from the Senate during the Civil War for supporting the Confederacy, both by recognizing Jefferson Davis as President, and by trying to sell the Confederacy weapons.
Well here's an attempt at something thats new for once. Comments are always welcome.
Last edited by Japhy; June 29th, 2012 at 03:23 AM.. Reason: Can't run a candidate without a pulse