Cinco de Mayo

"...alarmed by the sudden assassination of the Kaiser and aware of his own advanced age, von Moltke had begun elevating a younger cadre of officers in the wake of Wilhelm's death and quietly notifying his longtime ally Bismarck that he intended to retire by the age of 85, if he was so blessed to live that long. A hero of the Third Unification War, Alfred von Waldersee, was in 1879 made his Quartermaster General and effective second-in-command on the General Staff, a position of tremendous prestige, signaling enormous trust by von Moltke in his young protege. Also brought into the General Staff at this time was a young major named Alfred von Schlieffen, who quickly became a key deputy to Waldersee, and Wilhelm von Hahnke, a friend to Schlieffen thought to be eyed as a potential head of the Military Cabinet.

Schlieffen and Hahnke were mainstream, doctrinaire soldiers of the Prussian aristocratic class, hungry and ambitious as they might have been. Waldersee, a magnetic personality who wielded considerable influence over both, was of a different breed - he was attracted to the fiery Stoecker sermons, referring to the rabid anti-Semite as a "Second Luther," and saw conspiracies everywhere he looked. In his view, Germany was arrayed against a vast enemy controlled by global Jewry, which in turn held sway over both Catholics, whom he detested, and liberals, who he viewed as a weak fifth column within Prussia. Waldersee's diaries, published after his death [1], reveal a man with grandiose designs on an apocalyptic "last war" against France and Austria, and perhaps even her nominal ally Russia, to secure the place of Germany forever. He detested the Kaiser first and foremost, viewing him as a "fleshy bag of a man, a puppet on strings held by the British whore," and as a bloc of liberals surged to power in the Reichstag, the lay Catholic Zentrum grew in influence and socialists still proselytized without being lined upon and shot, the man began to see his beloved Germany slipping away. His antidote was the deposition and execution of the Kaiser, the exile or death of Empress Victoria, suspension of suffrage to the Reichstag and de-emancipation, if not deportation and perhaps even liquidation, of the Jewish community. The notion of civilian control of the military and the Junkers losing their position was wholly alien to Waldersee, and the Kaiser returned his hatred.

Nevertheless, Friedrich - always indecisive and reluctant to act, and having been dissuaded by Victoria of turning his attention away from boxing out Bismarck [2] - decided not to demand Waldersee's dismissal in 1882 as the Quartermaster elevated more friends to attache positions in foreign embassies. He was particularly leery of making a move that would seem to second-guess Moltke, who was so respected that he was referred to as the "Kaiser of the army" by some despite his advanced age and declining faculties. Bismarck, for his part, was suspicious and leery of Waldersee, but began to see the man as a useful pawn to be played, particularly as he started to turn his attention less from German matters to specifically Prussian ones and look to the Landtag as the vehicle for his political maneuvers, seeing as Prussia's army formed the core of Germany's military, the Junkers were the cream of the elite, and there were not nearly so many liberals and Catholics to muddy things up for him in the three-franchise Prussian Parliament.

And so the stage was set for one of Germany's most infamous tragedies, all thanks to three men - Friedrich, Bismarck and Moltke - who with their own cross-purposes and agendas ignored a bubbling reactionary undercurrent within the armed forces..."

- Frederick and Victoria: Consorts of Germany


[1] This is all a little ahead of schedule, mind
[2] As I've said before, I think Freddy was less an ardent liberal hero like he's been mythologized as and more of just a wishy-washy guy who was easily bossed around by his wife
Why do I have the horrible feeling that amplifying the voice of this aristocratic proto-Hitler will cause an ugly Dreyfus-style scandal in the Empire?
 
Queen Min
"...the Imo Mutiny was one of the most shocking and sudden blood-soaked incidents in Korean history up to that point, a n ugly reaction to Gojong's attempts and modernizing, and even more so than the Tonkin Crisis would set the stage for the great power clash to come but two years later. Apocryphally, the trigger for what for many years was known as the Soldier's Riot in Seoul - the name only change due to a number of other reactions over the decades by the Korean military against their rulers [1] - was apparently sand being found in the rice rations/wage substitute. Generally, though, the reaction was more about underpaid soldiers outraged at the special privileges enjoyed by Japanese military advisors to Gojong, egged on by the yangban aristocracy that detested the Queen and any and all foreign influence. As the riots spread on July 23 and the following days, foreigners were evacuated, the Japanese legation in particular, which was embarrassed that a British vessel had to help them flee down the Han to safety on Ganghwa Island. The riots soon spread to even broader segments of the Korean population and threatened to engulf the entire country in civil war - the Changdeokgung [2] was occupied, embassies and trade houses burned, and hundreds killed, including some of the Queen's chief advisors. The attempted coup briefly brought Gojong's father, the Daewongun, back to power, as the Queen had to flee the city disguised as a lady of court on a bodyguard's back [3]. The Daewongun set to work planning to suspend all of Korea's treaties with foreign powers, including the recently-negotiated pact with the United States that was on the verge of finalization.

This attracted the attention of France and China, both of whom were vying for influence in Korea and secretly were glad at the Japanese humiliation. France mobilized her Foreign Legion detachment at Pusan, where they were allowed to keep a small barracks, and loaded them onto ships to prepare to deploy to Ganghwa to "defend European refugees." As a mob of unorganized Korean soldiers and peasants marched to Ganghwa, Li Hongzhang - China's minister responsible for foreign affairs - deployed an army to quell the violence, sailing up the Han with the Beiyang Fleet and putting an end to the fighting with only 4,500 men, who would remain stationed in Seoul to "keep the peace." The Daewongun fled Seoul and evaded Chinese capture [4], and the next day the French forces at Ganghwa fought off the mob in a bloody fight best described as a massacre.

The Imo Mutiny returned Gojong and Min to the Changdeokgung, but China had reasserted her suzerainty over Korea after fifteen years of being more or less blocked out. The treaty ports of Pusan and Wonsan remained French and Japanese concessions, and Inchon remained Korea's port to the rest of the world, but China was now indelibly in control of the peninsula once again. Li, who had encouraged the US-Korean treaty, pressed for its finalization, which included the leasing of Port Hamilton [5] to the nascent US Asiatic Squadron to give them a permanent base, which he saw as an excellent way to control the Korea Straits and prevent further Japanese, French and Russian encroachment. For Korea, the mutiny had been disastrous - though Li encouraged the continuing modernization program, an unequal treaty signed that November returned Korea to tributary if not semi-colonial status, with extraterritorial rights for Chinese nationals and merchants and Korea needing the informal consent and approval of China on foreign policy decisions.

Though the United States came out of the situation please with their new military base when the treaty was done in 1883, France and Japan recoiled, the former as it had been pushed exclusively into Pusan when it regarded Korea as its sphere of influence and was embarrassed to be outflanked by China once again in Asia [6] and the latter because it showed that for all Japan's modernizing, its military advisors were driven from backwater Korea by an unruly mob and they lacked even the fleet projection to evacuate and safekeep their own people. The Imo Mutiny would have enormous consequences, thus, on not just the history of Korea's relationship with larger and stronger powers but on the military repercussions across East Asia..."

- Queen Min


[1] We're in for some good times
[2] Korean royal palace
[3] This is true, even if the riot ITTL is a bit more chaotic
[4] He was captured and confined IOTL
[5] Islands between the peninsula and Jeju with a great natural harbor, IOTL controlled by Britain for a while but apparently offered to the US
[6] Remember, there's tension between France and China over Tonkin too...
 
So some clarifying notes on the US Navy - my line of thinking on this, is that as you don’t have the 1863-65 mass production of naval vessels with the war effectively ending in late ‘62 followed by a ceasefire, the postbellum USN is even *more* decrepit in its decline. So even with the 1869 Naval Act I’ve referenced so many times, with its expansive provisions, the Great Depression and later budget cuts still probably puts the USN behind its OTL level as of 1882 despite all of its positive bullshit PR about challenging the RN hegemony (Lol). Still ahead of the Confederate Navy at this point (not hard to be ahead of a Navy that’s on the seabed of the Florida Strait!) but implications that the USN ITTL is some kind of great fighting force are probably best read as that: implications in favorable textbooks
 
Can we get some more info on what is happening in Southeast Asia? We have not heard from Deutsche Kambodia in a while, and I have heard that Ludwig II of Bavaria, the cousin of the current colonial governor there and the "Mad King" of Neuschwanstein fame, took interest in Oriental influences for his many castles. Also, some info on colonial India would be interesting. Is Russia's turn towards the east causing an intensified Great Game there?
 
Can we get some more info on what is happening in Southeast Asia? We have not heard from Deutsche Kambodia in a while, and I have heard that Ludwig II of Bavaria, the cousin of the current colonial governor there and the "Mad King" of Neuschwanstein fame, took interest in Oriental influences for his many castles. Also, some info on colonial India would be interesting. Is Russia's turn towards the east causing an intensified Great Game there?
Interesting! The throne room at Neuschwanstein looks like something from a Byzantine palace, so I know Ludwig II poked around for other ideas. We're going to get a lot of SE Asian content as relates to Tonkin, where French-Chinese tensions are spiking, but Deutsche Kambodia and Siam are just moving along with internal improvements and stability with the German protectorate and friendship in place. Nothing too interesting there for now, until foreign eyes land on the Lao Highlands.

I haven't found too much interesting OTL events/persons from early 1880s India to use and I don't think British policy would have changed too much internally, the big butterflies are more containing France since they have the 800-pound cannon aimed straight at India with the Suez Canal. Russia's expansion at this time started to aim away from Afghanistan and more towards Turkestan/Persia, which of course Britain will have something to say about too... plus we've got a potential alt-Panjeh ahead of us in the 1885/86 timeframe as the borders of Afghanistan get a little murky
 
The Passing of the Torch: Gladstone's Retirement at 100
"...it would not be the Grand Old Man, the Moses of liberalism who led his followers to the brink of triumph but never was able to enter the promised land of 10 Downing Street himself, without a great, thunderous speech, and his address announcing his retirement from the Commons in April of 1882 - timed to coincide with the furious ongoing debates about twin crises in Ireland and Egypt [1] - belongs in the same stratosphere as some of his other great addresses. Perhaps more importantly, 1882 serves as a critical fulcrum for the Liberals, then in the early part of their forty-year domination of British politics with only the brief minority Tory interregnum in the late 1880s as a pause [2]. It came at the end of Gladstone's celebrated 50 year career in the Commons, as a powerful Chancellor of the Exchequer and polarising opposition leader who nevertheless mainstreamed the Liberal ideals and set the stage for their coming hegemony. It also marked when the turn came from the old Liberals, the Peelites and Whigs and smattering of Radicals, a party more of men such as Lord Hartington, the Prime Minister of the time (even though that title would not be used until the early 1900s) than of John Bright [3]. But with the rise of the modern party machinery in the National Liberal Federation came a new generation of ambitious reformers and the Radicals were ascendant, most prominently Joseph Chamberlain and his most loyal friend, Sir Charles Dilke.

1882 then marks a passing of the torch - it came on the heels of Hartington passing his last great reform, the Local Government Board Act of 1881 [4], before the last three-plus years of his ministry descended into lurching from one argument to another not only between Liberal and Tory but between the Whig and Radical wings of the party itself. It was a generationl change, away from the age of contemporaries like Palmerston and Granville, and so it was not Hartington, despite the high regard historians hold for him, who was the successor of Gladstone but instead the ambitious Chamberlain, still President of the Board of Trade at this time, who was the Joshua to Gladstone's Moses, the man who would soon deliver them to their Promised Land [5]..."


- The Passing of the Torch: Gladstone's Retirement at 100 (The Economist, 1982)

[1] Coming soon!
[2] Nod to @Curtain Jerker - How the Tories briefly have their dead cat bounce will be outlined over the next three years of content, fear not!
[3] Mea culpa on not doing my research, btw - I've implied Bright was a strong Home Rule supporter in previous entries and he was most certainly not. If anything he was Gladstone's most aggressive opponent on the issue to stay and not bolt for the Liberal Unionists
[4] Here simply delayed 10 years
[5] Flash-forward (won't say how long) but yes, this does mean what it implies: Prime Minister Joseph Chamberlain
 
20 Years from POD
With that we're basically (more or less) at the 20 year mark out from the POD, by hitting spring of 1882 in the narrative, and appropriately the next entry will take us back to Mexico for the revolt of the caudillos.

For a recap of the last 20 years in this alternate universe...

  • Mexico's Second Empire survives under Max and the space bats smile upon him by making his probably-barren in OTL wife Carlota grant him three children, one of whom nearly had half his face blown off by anti-monarchist assassins leaving his first communion and now wears an eyepatch
  • The Confederacy wins as a result of the French intervention in Mexico succeeding, with a victory in 1862 leaving them in decent shape. This is of course squandered by virtue of it enjoying the antebellum South's famously technocratic and forward thinking leadership class, with a decade-long depression, minimal foreign investment past the early 1870s, and Nathan B. Forrest getting tons of Confederate soldiers killed on an ill-fated trip to Cuba (where he himself dies!). This is followed by an ugly election where the Confederate Supreme Court basically rigs the result in favor of Forrest's Sec of State, Isham Harris
  • France loses the Franco-Prussian War, triggered in 1867 over the Luxembourg Crisis, but much less decisively and despite an attempted Commune the Empire survives and indeed strengthens under the near-dictatorship of Francois Bazaine. When Napoleon III dies, his ambitious young son Napoleon IV takes over and French expansionism - controlling Suez, funding the Ottomans, minor protectorate over Korea - makes them a challenger to Britain
  • Britain, speaking of which, spent a whole decade sitting on its ass under navel-gazing Tory aristocrats and the social cohesion of the country is considerably lower, with more trade union radicalism and reactionary politics in response. Prince Alfred being capped in Sydney in 1868 by a Fenian probably didn't help, and the future OTL Edward VII dying of typhus with the Dutch king doesn't either
  • The Dutch King was only king because his dad had his throat ripped out by a hunting dog
  • The Republicans in the US emancipate the slaves but collapse shortly thereafter thanks to triggering a Great Depression and various corruption scandals; patronage and corruption are much more salient subjects ITTL USA, helping give rise to the Liberal Party as an opposition to the Democrats
  • Russia gets beaten pretty soundly by the Ottomans and has retreated from European affairs for now; Alexander III was not assassinated in 1881
  • Wilhelm I of Germany was assassinated in 1878 and his grandson the Crown Prince drowns in 1880, leaving Friedrich III on the throne in a quickly-destabilizing blood feud with Bismarck and Prince Heinrich his heir apparent
  • Spain has Leopold I of Hohenzollern on the throne, is doing pretty well compared to OTL, and slapped around the Confederates and Carlists alike when it came to Cuba and their civil wars
  • Germany has a Cambodian colony
  • Chile won the Saltpeter War quicker and more decisively than OTL, ironically gaining less territory though, and now appears to be a rising hegemon in the Pacific
  • Britain has a Hawaiian colony
  • Britain also got slapped around by a Boer-native African alliance and are confined to the Cape and Natal, but now have a protectorate over Madagascar to console themselves
Thank you all for reading! Please leave any thoughts, comments, predictions or criticisms, I love to hear from my readers.
 
Maximilian of Mexico
"...like so many wars, there wasn't just one cause, but multiple. The caudillos were for the most part not Zocalistas - indeed, even those least reconciled to the edicts from Mexico City curbing their powers that eventually led to the revolts thought the anti-monarchists to be an odd grab-bag of unreconstructed Lerdists, socialists, indigenous agitators, and irritable unemployed. Their grievances were generally ones of personal pique and power rather than ideological, and yet the eruption occurred against the backdrop of ever-further resentment against the crown in Mexico's poorer provinces. The final straw for many of the personalists with their fiefdoms came with two laws, both of which were passed in late 1881 to codify and simplify governance practices into a constitutional system rather than the ad hoc approach taken for nearly 20 years. The first law finally ended the old system of appointment of "jefes" in the departments, with appointed governors, who would serve six year terms, with unlimited renewals if approved by the Assembly and Emperor. The law, promulgated by Zuloaga and passed with supermajorities in the Assembly, was meant to appease three constituencies: the Assembly, which desired more to than act as a mere sinecure rubberstamp for Maximilian; for the governors, in protecting them from serving purely at the whim of the Emperor and for Maximilian himself, in ending the informal balancing act of Vidaurrismo that had clearly outlived its master and formalize how the departments were run. For some governors, most prominently Manuel Gonzalez, this arrangement suited them fine; others knew that this meant that Maximilian's allies would soon be replacing them and their carefully-cultivated networks of caciques and patronage. Antonio Ochoa in Batopilas was the most resistant to this when he learned that when the new gubernatorial terms - staggered randomly over six years but all to begin when the law went into effect on May 10, 1882 - he would be replaced by Donato Guerra, a longstanding ally of Miguel Miramon. Angel Trias was announced as the new governor for Chihuahua soon thereafter, tapped specifically to develop the department now that Mexico had its second rail connection to the Confederacy, via Los Pasos [1]. Infighting between the presumptive new governor of Oaxaca, Ignacio Mariscal, and the soon-to-be jobless Matias Romero, an old Lerdista who was the weakest of all the reconciliadios in his connection to Chapultepec, began even in the winter.

It was another law that really angered even the "caudillos informales" - the local leaders who held no official office, such as the Native Cajeme who enforced the rule of Jesus Garcia Morales in Sonora or G. Casaventes in Chihuahua - where Zuloaga, in an effort to end the turf war between governors and the Rurales, passed the Law of Jurisdiction through the Assembly with Maximilian's reluctant assent. The law was to create a two-tiered system of courts, modelled on the USA and CSA judiciaries, with "departmental courts" controlled by governors (and practically speaking the caciques) and "national courts" controlled by Mexico City. What outraged the caudillos was the provision that moved all cases either brought by - or, considering the outrages of the day, against - members of the Rurales were to be tried in national rather than local courts. Seeing as how many Rurales commanders often treated local departments as their own fiefdoms contravening the caudillos, and that many parts of Mexico could not afford their own constables and so relied on the Rurales, it effectively nationalized criminal law enforcement. Local "comisario" militias spread across much of the north and south and Manuel Lozada declared that he would shoot every Rurale in Nayarit if the law was not repealed. Despite Maximilian's pleading not to make an example of the Tiger of Tepic, Zuloaga and Miramon agreed for once that Lozada's threat meant open rebellion, and announced that Ramon Corona, a well-regarded general and native of Tepic, would be the new governor. Corona was dispatched with a force of 5,000 men to help secure his inauguration, and Mexico was teetering perilously close to the militarist politics that had marked the years before the French intervention.

Lozada responded by raising a force of 16,000 men, which stunned Mexico City. "Where did he find them all?" Maximilian was said to have asked, bewildered, in a strategy meeting with Miramon. The two armies met at Chapalilla on May 5 [2], where despite a gallant stand Corona's forces were driven back, outnumbered, though their professionalism against Lozada's ragtag band allowed them to inflict disproportionate casualties. Maximilian declared Nayarit a department in revolt and mobilized the Imperial Army in its entirety. Alarmed, the caudillos across the northern departments raised their own forces and fighting between Rurales and Comisarios accelerated throughout May. Mexico was a tinderbox of tension as new governors were dispatched northwards with small forces to secure their own departmental capitals, and the match was lit when on May 22 "the Zocalo Manifesto" was published by a number of dissidents in northern newspapers, calling for republican revolution and the overthrow of the monarchy.

The Revolt of the Caudillos had begun."

- Maximilian of Mexico


[1] ITTL name for El Paso, TX and Paso del Norte, Mexico
[2] ;)
 
From what is implied, the centralists are going to win this war. Hopefully, this event will be the wake-up call necessary to get Max to stop taking victory laps in Europe and Mexico City, and invest more in the impoverished outer provinces.
 
The Revolt of the Caudillos
"...the monarchists had two overwhelming advantages - the first, the Navy, which by 1882 included the ironclads Aguila and Estrella in addition to the decade-old screw steamers, of which there were seven, and an assortment of coastal patrol boats and monitors. There was almost certainly not going to be any foreign support for the rebels and the ability to dominate Mexico's ports - most critically Guaymas, in rebellious Sonora and Veracruz and Coatzoalcos, the country's harbors to Europe - was a key factor in Mexico City's strategy. The other key benefit that Maximilian's forces enjoyed as anti-centralist caudillos took up arms and declared a revolt was logistical. In the fifteen years since putting down Porfirio Diaz's insurgency in the last northern rebellion, "el Norte" was now tied to the Altiplano (now known as the Bajia industrial region, the beating heart of modern Mexico) via the Central Mexican Railroad that was completed all the way to Paso del Norte in 1881 and which had already connected to Matamoros on the mouth of the Rio Grande via the Eastern Mexican Railroad, and connections to Laredo - which actually enjoyed a rail connection to the Texas Gulf Coast - would be completed the next year. Via interchanges at the sleepy cotton farming village at Torreon and the town of Saltillo, the army could be rapidly moved to restive departments such as Chihuahua, Batopilas, Matamoros and Tamaulipas. The Mexican Imperial Army had a standing force of 40,000 professional soldiers who were nearly as well paid as European standing armies and had a further 50,000 reservists who could be called to action and mobilized within 45 days, according to the estimates provided by Miguel Miramon. The Guardia Rural at this point had a complement of about 9,000 men who could serve as an irregular, paramilitary auxiliary and were already in the departments - however, a surprisingly substantial number of Rurales defected to local caudillos despite their long-running feuds with vigilante Comisario militias that were raised in the preceding six months. Maximilian decided early that the Army, not the thinly-spread and unreliable Rurales, would be the thrust of his response to the rebellious provincial chiefs.

Other advantages were less tangible but no less real. The rebellion, as it burst into being in the spring days, had no single leader. It was motivated by personal pique about being replaced by a new governor or losing out on patronage among certain appointed "jefes", such as Antonio Ochoa, Luis Terrazas or Matias Romero; opaque desire to rebel once the ball was rolling, such as the strange Sonoran alliance of ironfisted caudillo Jesus Garcia Morales and his former enemy, the Yaqui Indian leader Cajeme; an escalation of the long running caste war, which brought the Mayan leader Crescencio Poot and his forces out of the jungles of the Yucatan; or ambitions to impose a new government on Mexico, either with himself in charge, as in the case of Nayarit's "el Tigre de Tepic" Manuel Lozada or merely to force a constitutional settlement and drive certain rivals out of power, such as the famously "reluctant rebel," Manuel Gonzales of Matamoros. These competing interests collided frequently, particularly in the early months of the civil war when much time, blood, and treasure was expended on trying to seize Nuevo Leon and Mapimi after the initial invasion of Huejuquila [1] was a quick success.

The more critical problem for Maximilian was that the revolt was not just in the long-restive north but in Oaxaca as well, and Romero's forces moved rapidly to attack and seize the Tehuantepec Railway, the prized infrastructural asset of Mexico. Immediately, his adopted sun Salvador de Iturbide, the Admiral of the Mexican Navy, deployed vessels to the two harbors on either side with small detachments of the then-nascent Mexican Marines to seize the ports. As reservists were called up, and volunteers emerged from across the country for both sides - peasant farmers who resented the Rurales answering the siren song of the rebels, many of whom were veterans or the sons of veterans of the Reform War and French Intervention; immigrants from Europe, China and the Confederacy generally leaving their farms and factories to join hastily-thrown together "patriots brigades" that were generally used for city defense as banditry surged in the chaotic countryside - the Tigre de Tepic aggressively moved into the Rio Grande de Santiago after leaving some forces behind to guard Tepic from a coastal assault, hoping to quickly move on Guadalajara and deal a critical blow to the government's morale..."


- The Revolt of the Caudillos

[1] As always, I am using the Second Empire's territorial divisions.
 
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