Fenians, Brits, Mexicans, Canucks and Frenchies....OH, MY! An alternate American Civil War

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

1861 - February


Damn, Buchanan, President-Elect Abraham Lincoln thought, cursing his soon to be departed predecessor. At least six states are openly in the act of or having completed secession and Buchanan does NOTHING!

The man's assertion that secession was illegal but he had no right to do anything about it did as much to underscore the weakness of America's government than anything Lincoln had experienced in his life of public service. To the best of the Illinoisan's knowledge, Buchanan intended nothing more for the remaining weeks of his presidency but to begin planning his memoirs in order to excuse his criminal lack of action as the country tore itself apart.

And there wasn't a damned thing Lincoln could do about it.

He would have to wait until his inauguration before he could even begin preparations to restore the Union. Though he loathed the expedience, Lincoln was willing to back down on what others called his more "Radical" positions. Granted, while Lincoln had publicly opposed slavery, he never intended to forcibly free the slaves despite the braying fears of the South. By the cries emerging from Charleston and other regions, Lincoln had campaigned on a platform of liberating the Negro by force and then unleashing them upon southern white women.

More than once, Lincoln had regretted Eli Whitney's machine while gave new life decades ago to an institution on the verge of obsolescence. It was obvious now that the structural differences between regions was bound to tear America apart if something wasn't done. Even a public vow not to touch the institution of slavery by Lincoln (which he would otherwise be willing to do) was unlikely to calm Southern passions in any meaningful way. The President-Elect was already reaching the undeniable conclusion that only military force would resolve the issue.

And what of the "Upper Southern States" or northern-most slave states (for all intents and purposes)? Would they follow the Deep South into rebellion?

As it so happened, the Unionist Cause (though at this point, there really wasn't anything yet called a "Unionist Cause" and wouldn't until Buchanan returned to Pennsylvania) was being served by two of the most unexpected persons imaginable in the most remote reaches of the country.

San Antonio

As the Texas Legislature voted overwhelmingly to follow six other states from the Union (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana with Delaware holding a vote and rejecting secession), the Head of the US Army Department of Texas, containing near 20% of the modest peacetime establishment, was celebrating with the Texan secessionists. David Twiggs was a 60ish Georgian whom had already sent a letter to General Winfield Scott assuring him that, should his home state of Georgia secede (as it did on February 1st), that he would resign.

What he did NOT tell General Scott in his letter was that he would surrender his entire command, including his soldiers, supplies, weapons and the 20 US Army facilities in Texas, to the secessionists.

While some of the soldiers, particularly the northerners, would resist, the obvious preponderance of Texas rebels milling around the remote outposts and the southern-born soldiers within the walls, would make any resistance untenable in the long run. Twiggs announcing that the northerners were welcome to depart in peace did little to ease their anxiety.

Then, in the celebrations, the inebriated Georgian would retire to a hotel room and quietly drown in his own vomit.

The second-in-command of the Department of Texas was a Virginian by the name of Colonel Robert E. Lee. A veteran of the Mexican conflict, Lee was considered among the best soldiers in America though he was reaching retirement age as well. As Twiggs' body was discovered the next morning, the Texas Commissioners hastily approached Lee expecting that Twiggs' impending surrender would be unaltered, not with another Southern officer in command.

But Lee, whose home state of Virginia had yet to secede (though Lee feared it inevitably would), had no intention of surrendering the property of a nation he'd served his entire adult life. Lee considered resigning and letting the next officer in line to deal with the situation but could not bring himself to do so. Instead, he calmly explained to the Commissioners that his duty prevented such an action.

Yielding to reason, Lee did accept the resignation of any of the southern officers under his command provided they left peacefully. Lee even turned blind eye as the enlisted men of southern affiliation quietly deserted. Far better to have them outside the walls of the fortifications than within.

Stiffened by Lee's courage, the remaining (predominantly but not exclusively northern) American regulars would abandon several indefensible locations and consolidate their forces in several of the stronger fortifications. Eventually, the Texans would assemble a force to besiege them including the Alamo, where Lee set up his headquarters outside of San Antonio. However, lacking any major siege machinery, the Texans could do little more than harass the regulars. With fewer than 2000 men he could trust, Lee would hold out for several days before negotiating a "withdrawal".

The Texans agreed provided that Lee hand over all equipment. This Lee could not do and the Colonel personally led several raids against the unprepared Texans besieging the Alamo. This scattered the rebels temporarily but Lee knew they'd be back in force. The Virginian ordered the walls of the fort to be leveled by sappers and any goods unable to be carried out via horseback or wagon. The Alamo was abandoned, her walls imploded, soon to be forgotten as the scene was repeated across Texas.

Inefficient rebel leadership prevented a significant assault on the Federal forces. Most of the Texans had assumed that the 1000+ horses, 44 cannon, massive stockpiles of powder and shot, etc, etc, would be handed over to them on a platter by General Twiggs. When Lee's unexpected refusal to abide by Twiggs' agreement/treason, the Texans, already in the throes of attempting to form a wartime government (many high-ranking men expected to form the government were actually travelling East to discuss the formation of the Confederacy at the Provisional Confederate Congress ongoing at this time), simply assumed that the southern officers and enlisted men released from Lee's command would lead the sieges across the State. However, almost immediately, these Mississippians and South Carolinians and Georgians, etc, had promptly ridden east to their own homes, few having any interest in serving Texas.

Gathering his forces and supplies along the way from remote outposts, Lee would manage to cross the Red River into the Indian Territories leading over 2000 regulars, 1000 horse, and all but twelve of the forty-four cannon in Texas as pack animals became scarcer. Lee ordered the latter's fuses spiked, the carriages and trundles burned, bombed exploded in the barrels in an attempt to rupture them (largely failed) and then barrels thrown into the local rivers. Four were eventually recovered by the local rebels but Texas did not possess a capable smithy at the time to return the weapons to use and eventually the barrels were melted down for bullets nearly a year later.

Lee's subordinates unanimously supported their commander's actions in preventing usable military wares falling into the hands of the rebels and Lee was promptly offered a commission by Lincoln in March as a Major General. However, by the time he returned to Washington DC in late April, Virginia had seceded from the Union. Though he personally did not support secession, Colonel Lee could not abide the though of battling fellow Virginians. With a heavy heart, Lee would resign his commission from the Army he'd served with distinction for close to 31 years.

He returned to Virginia in late May expecting an offer of a Commission as General. However, Lee found himself plastered with offal in the streets of Richmond. His refusal to surrender his command in Texas, despite Virginia not having seceded at the time, would cast him as a traitor to his "country" as he called Virginia. As it was, Joseph Johnston, another highly regarded Virginian, would be given the command of the Army of Virginia until it could be merged into the new "Confederate States Army". Instead, Lee was offered a modest commission as an Engineer....with no official rank.

Insulted, Lee would politely decline and return to his family (well, his WIFE's family) house and plantation at Arlington, close to the Capital. Winfield Scott would repeatedly send dispatches begging Lee to accept a Generalship but Lee refused, stating he could not turn arms against his beloved Virginia. He would see out the conflict from his parlor.

Benecia, California


The commander of the Department of the Pacific in Benecia, California faced a near identical dilemma. Albert Sidney Johnston was a native Kentuckian who served the American Army in as distinguished a manner as Lee. However, unlike Texas, "free-state" California was much more split down the middle in supporting the Union.

Johnston was an ardent supporter of slavery (though he currently owned none nor any property in his native Kentucky), he opposed secession. Having not lived in Kentucky for years, he was uncertain as to his path. What was NOT up for debate is that he would not buckle under and surrender the Army's California facilities to a handful of what he considered brigands. Lacking numbers as they did in Texas, the pro-Confederates would resort to assembling around Los Angeles with vague talk about merging with Oregon to form a "Pacific Republic" or somehow declaring "neutrality" in the coming conflict as several border states like Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri were publicly debating.

As it was, Johnston was "relieved" in May as the War Department feared he'd defect to the Confederates (which, of course, would make this more likely) and Johnston took his family to Los Angeles where his wife gave birth to his sixth child. Johnston was almost convinced to join a militia called the "Los Angeles Rifles" intent on riding east to join the Confederate Army but his wife's ill health would put this on hold.

By the time his wife recovered and Johnston was at liberty to volunteer for the war, the Union army had complete control over California. Seeing no point in abandoning his young family to clandestinely cross the nation to join a war he hardly approved of in the first place, Johnston instead concentrated on building a new life in California.
I’m guessing by the title, and that this is a collapse of the USA, with various factions and outside nations taking part?
Chapter 2
June, 1861


Emperor Napoleon III of France would smirk at news of the American rebellion. Long ago, aiding Americans had cost another reigning King his head. Napoleon had no intention to lifting a finger for either the Confederacy or the Union (as the two were fast becoming known).

However, the collapse of the American nation left opportunity on the table for France. The dwarfen Indian ruling the former Spanish colony to the south had failed to pay his bills to Europe.

It was time to do some collecting. However, unlike his partners Great Britain and Spain, Napoleon III did not intend to depart after being paid.

New York

James Fintan Lalor had been born into a prosperous Catholic family in Ireland. While politically active, the Lalor's had been loyal....under the damned British let the nation starve in the Famine. Lalor had written for the Irish Felon until arrested and, barely escaping the noose, followed his idol John Mitchel into Australian exile. The pair reunited in Fremantle and escaped together to America. Here the two paths diverged. Lalor would tirelessly support the loose affiliation of Irish movements often lumped together as "Fenians" which included Young Irelanders, Irish Republic Brotherhood, etc, etc.

Lalor would continue agitating for land reform from afar, eventually moving towards more violent ends such as supplying arms to Irish prospective rebels in the home country only to find this seldom resulted in actual rebellion. Instead, the Irishman would spend more and more time concentrating on the hardships of Irishmen in Canada. Here the Orange Order and Fenians would frequently clash in the streets of Quebec, Montreal, Saint John, Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston where a generation of Irish Catholic Famine refugees had fled. Here was more fertile fields for Irish resistance to the Crown that left them to die.

John Mitchel, for reasons Lalor could not fathom, spent most of his time defending chattel slavery of Negroes. Eventually Mitchel had departed New York for Nashville where his pro-slavery newspaper was well received.

Lalor, along with his friend the soldier Thomas Francis Meager, would gather funds from prosperous Irishmen in America to arm their kin in Canada, Ireland, Liverpool, Australia....and wherever they may be found. Though many organizations and groups existed bearing grandiose names, the most common was always "Fenian".

In the chaos of the impending war, no one noticed or cared about the thousands of muskets being transferred north across the border.

Border States

With Lincoln's call for 70,000 recruits, the borders states debating secession determined their destiny. Missouri and Kentucky, where Union sentiment was strongest, also housed thousands of Federal troops. Marshal Law removed secessionists from office and closed pro-Confederate newspapers. By June, both Kentucky and Missouri were solidly under Union control.

Tennessee and Virginia, however, like North Carolina, deemed this treatment heavy-handed to the extreme and immediately called for Referendums for secession. However, the counties of Eastern Tennessee and Western Virginia refused to abide by this ruling, partially due to several Confederate raids into their regions which seemed more intent on pillage than liberation from Northern control. Local Loyalist movements would temporarily achieve supremacy over the rebel factions allowing for several thousands regulars to enter the hill and mountain counties where slaves were rare and feuds with the slave-owning aristocracies many.
Chapter 3 - Bull Run
July, 1861

The Shenandoah

For the past several weeks, the newly ordained "Confederate" Army of the Shenandoah had been rigorously drilled by Joseph Johnston, who had only a few weeks before been commanding General of the Virginia forces prior to the folding of that entity into the Confederate army. With 12,000 raw recruits with only a few weeks in uniform (well, the uniforms had been ordered, anyway), Johnston despaired at the thought of leading this mess into battle. More than anything, he hoped for a peaceful settlement which avoided the worst of the rapid Fire-eater faction of the south and the diehard Abolitionists of the north.

But that seemed not to be as Lincoln's army had formed in Washington, D.C, Maryland, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. In truth, most of the southern secessionists evidently had spent the spring and summer of LIncoln's first four months in office believing that the North would never seriously do more than rattle a saber. No one truly expected an actual army to cross into Virginia.

To the east, Johnston new that a larger Confederate force was being formed to protect the newly ordained Capital of the Confederacy, Richmond. Johnston's native Virginia had only formally seceded after Lincoln called for 70,000 "Volunteers" to put down this rebellion. With the Confederates of Missouri, Kentucky and much of Eastern Tennessee and....sigh....Western Virginia suppressed by force of arms, it was obvious to even the most dimwitted southerner that Lincoln actually meant to fight.

Unlike most Southerners who knew little of their northern counterparts, the experienced Johnston did not hold the opinion that the northern man possessed less "elan" than the southern one. He also knew they outnumbered the southern whites by 3 to 1 and bore nearly a 10 to 1 industrial capacity. The Navy, railroads and nearly every oth
er sector which would weigh in on a real conflict would similarly fall squarely in the Yankee favor.

But that didn't matter to Johnston now. His orders were clear: take his raw army out of the Shenadoah Valley and march to the aid of the Army of the Potomac as P.T. Beauregard's larger force was known. Johnston knew Beauregard well enough....or at least his reputation. A brilliant officer, the Louisianan had served ably in Mexico and had been appointed Commandant of West Point in the weeks before the election of 1860. Having barely taken the office, he was relieved by Lincoln for being of doubtful loyalty. Naturally, the thin-skilled diminutive Creole dandy took that as a personal insult (to be fair, he should have) and promptly was offered a commission in the Confederate Army.

Nominally, when Johnston's force united with the Army of the Potomac, the Virginian was senior. However, in hopes of keeping the peace with Beauregard, he had already written that Beauregard would at least temporarily remain in joint command of both armies as Johnston lacked a grasp of the local situation in Eastern Virginia and Beauregard commanded the larger force.

Unfortunately, this was all moot until the little problem of getting past the Federal (or Union as it was often called) forces of the Department of Pennsylvania was sorted. The Shenandoah Valley ran at a diagonal from southeast to northeast. The intent was that the Army of the Shenandoah would follow the valley north and then swing east to join Beauregard. However, the Army of Pennsylvania plugged the Shenandoah bottle. What Johnston had going for him was the fact that the Pennsylvanians were commanded by the old Irishman, Robert Patterson, whom had fought in Mexico and among the many Indian wars. Though a fighting man in the past, Patterson had been appointed entirely on his organizational experience in forming and training an army, not his fighting ability.

Johnston was certain that he could get past this stolid old campaigner.

What Johnston did NOT know was that Lincoln had dispatched two other experienced officers to the scene to ensure Patterson did his duty.

Northern Shenandoah

General Robert Patterson was not amused that the new President thought so lightly of him that he had fat, old Winfield Scott pick his senior officers. What was MORE insulting was the picks were James Wolfe Ripley, a man barely a year or two younger than himself and a lifelong Staffer to boot....and the arrogant young popinjay George McClellan. Patterson had known many men like this over the years: brash, confident of his abilities and ambitious beyond reason.

Now that he thought about it the little McClellan reminded Patterson much of that Creole dwarf Beauregard. The two were definitely of a kind.

The "help" was obviously meant to ensure that Patterson did HIS duty, an insult made more painful by the fact that Patterson held no real interest in putting his raw recruits against ANY army at all. But he knew damned well Ripley and McClellan had been sent to report on his fitness for command. Brevetted Brigadier Generals, the two men demanded that Patterson act the moment he received reports of Johnston's Army of the Shenandoah moving north.

Rather than face a charge of cowardice, Patterson divided his forces into two blocks, each commanded by his new "aides" and commanded them forwarded in the simplest battleplan imaginable. Almost by sheer luck, the forces collided with the rebel advanced forces.

The left flank, commanded by Ripley effectively managed to march in some sort of order across several wide-open farms (with little artillery support). Managing to form up first in ranks three deep, the Union forces managed to cross the range of 500 yards of open terrain without getting lost just as the Confederate I Brigade were managing to form. Deeming "firing" their muskets a waste of ammunition, Patterson ordered fixed bayonets. Bearing the advantage of momentum, the Federals crashed into the still confused rebel columns in force, quick effectively forcing 2500 men into panicked retreat.

Johnston, who had yet to bring up more than a quarter of his 12,000 man force, ordered his cavalry under Jeb Stuart to bypass the main infantry line and attack Patterson's headquarters were the bulk of his artillery and staff remained a half mile removed from the battle. This succeeded as it completely confused Patterson's headquarters and only the intervention of his own cavalry saved the command from being routed.

In the meantime, Johnston managed to form a second line with his III brigade only to find it immediately attacked by McClellan's forces. The New Jersey man managed something resembling a flanking maneuver with his raw troops which caught the confused enemy off-guard. Lacking any artillery or cavalry support, this second Brigade dissolved immediately leaving 56 dead and 67 captured.

McClellan grandly pronounced the "rebellion over" as he rode about congratulating his men. He made no attempt to pursue.

Seeing I and III Corps fleeing southward shattered the morale of Johnston's army. Having lost half his effective force until they could be reformed, Johnston was forced to turn his men around and retreat south.

Fortunately, the Army of Pennsylvania declined to follow. Johnston was stunned by this. What he did NOT know was that Patterson's command post was in chaos, Ripley had been killed by a rebel sniper and McClellan had the poor luck to encounter much of Stuart's cavalry when he was riding about encouraging his men. The Union Brevet Brigadier had his horse shot out from under him and was pinned for nearly an hour until soldiers heard his cry. Two days later, the leg was amputated.

Patterson was soon lionized in the press but the truth of his inactivity was laid bare with General Scott and soon Patterson was "promoted" to command the Department of the Pacific while the grievously injured McClellan was to take the role originally granted to Ripley, that of leading the Board of Ordinance, as he could hardly be expected to take a field command one-legged.

But the key event of all this was the fact that the Army of the Shenandoah would NOT link with the Confederate Army of the Potomac.

South of Bull Run River, northern Virginia

General P.T. Beauregard cursed as he read the latest dispatch. He had been counting upon Johnston to arrive and even the odds against the damned Yankee "Army of Eastern Virginia". Beauregard was offended that a northern force occupied much of northern (and western) Virginia. The Confederate spy network universally confirmed that he was outnumbered by a 3 to 2 margin and Johnston would have evened this.

Now, he was forced to defend the narrow slice of land between Washington and Richmond at a disadvantage. The good news was that there were several small rivers between the Potomac and the James which would provide a moderately strong defensive barrier. Beauregard had opted for Bull Run but the loss of the Army of the Shenandoah made Beauregard reconsider. He nearly ordered the army back to the Rappahannock but could not bring himself to run before Yankees.

Few Confederates loathed northerners more than he, the latest insult of being removed as Commandant of West Point being only the latest. Beyond abhorring the braying Abolitionists of the north, he found northern men somehow "lesser" than their aristocratic southern peers where the social order remained set between the elites, the poor whites and, of course, the slaves.

What is more, Beauregard feared that a retreat would see the new Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, replace him with a.....Virginian. One of the last states to join the Confederacy, Virginia only opted to secede from the Union after Lincoln proved Confederate fears correct in raising an army. Beauregard thought it absurd that the capital was promptly moved to Virginia....obviously a sop to the most populous (and advanced) southern state despite Virginia not being a cotton, indigo, rice or sugar state like most of the south. In many ways, Virginia was more likely Pennsylvania than Beauregard's native Louisiana and was therefore untrustworthy.

More than that, Beauregard remained resentful that his contemporary, Robert E. Lee, had received such acclaim in Mexico for his "engineering" than Beauregard did in actual battle. When Lee bafflingly opted to defend his post in Texas against secessionists, Beauregard was overjoyed as it would ensure no one would press too hard for the Virginian to be granted high rank and office. Indeed, Beauregard had been at the forefront of those who condemned Lee as a traitor for his actions despite Virginia remaining in the Union at this point. Now, with Joseph Johnston in retreat and discredited (it was assumed a major defeat would lead to his dismissal or reassignment), there seemed to be no real threat to Beauregard's own command in the Confederacy's largest army.

Of course, that would change if HE were to be defeated.

But REALLY, Beauregard thought, would even a three to two advantage in numbers by the Union not equate to an advantage to the Confederacy given the gap in quality of manhood?

Besides, Beauregard smirked internally, the best the Union could come up with was Irvin McDowell, a career staff officer best known as an organizer than a fighting man.

Let us see how this goes.

Ten miles west of Beauregard's position

Irvin McDowell was not a bold man. He wanted another two months to train his force but the damned President commanded him to attack immediately despite the rawness of his troops. Unwilling to refuse a direct order, McDowell formed a battleplan which many of his subordinates decried as too complex for the amateur troops. He wanted to swing around Beauregard's forces and attack the Confederates from the West.

Grumbling, he agreed to simplify the action but the overall strategy remained the same. Rather than cross into the teeth of the Confederate forces across Bull Run, he would march west, then swing around and cross the river at a lightly defended portion.

As it was, the General would later admit that his ambitious planned maneuvers would have been impossible. Even the more conservative march left much of the army in confusion and McDowell struggled to regain control after crossing Bull Run without resistance.

Now on the south side, he took a full 24 hours to form. By this time, it was obvious that Beauregard intended for defend the best land available and waited for McDowell's approach with budding impatience. Finally, the core of McDowell's army, perhaps 24,000 strong (he had planned on ordering 6000 men in reserve to protect against the Army of the Shenandoah's arrival but word of the victory by Patterson eliminated this requirement) had been reorganized. The remainder continued to face Beauregard north of Bull Run, ensuring that the "Little Creole" was forced to divided his own forces lest there been a easterly flanking movement.

In the end, McDowell's 24,000 formed up along mostly even ground (Beauregard's best defenses faced north) against Beauregard's 14,000 or so. Without further delay, McDowell ordered a simple right flanking movement with 4000 men as his artillery punished the Confederate center. Initially, this attack proved successful as the Confederate left was pressed back. But a fierce charge of Confederate Cavalry and 2000 infantry under RIchard Ewell's 2nd Brigade would halt this and send the Union back in confusion. However, McDowell had prepared for this by sending a further 2000 men and the Union cavalry even further around Beauregard's flank and pushed the Confederates back again.

The Confederates had been taking a beating in the center by Union Artillery and a feint on the right flank by Jubel Early's III Brigade had been fought off.

Finally, as dusk approached, McDowell ordered a general attack in the center, pushing the Confederates back again. Seeing his defensive position south of Bull Run now entirely exposed and many of his troops pointed the wrong way, Beauregard swallowed his pride and ordered his men southwards to the next line of defense, the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers, only a few dozen miles from Richmond itself.

Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and other towns were the primary defense to the capital city to the southeast. Fortunately, the mountains springing up to the west and the sea to the east left only a time mile stretch of lowlands (bisected by several rivers) for Beauregard to defend.

Having suffered defeat, Beauregard immediately began complaining to all he could get to listen that the battle would have been won if only Joseph Johnston had not failed in his duty.

Perhaps best of all, the Confederate retreat resulted in the loss of only a few cannon. Given the discrepancy in manufacturing between north and south, the southerners would need all they could get.

Washington DC

Though elated with the reports of victory, President Lincoln was dismayed that both Patterson and McDowell failed to seize the initiative and pursue despite his constant urging. Lincoln suspected that his choices of commanders (based upon poor, fat old Winfield Scott's recommendation) were not the most dynamic of men, he nevertheless agreed as organizational ability seemed to trump battlefield aggression in dealing with raw volunteers.

But, within weeks, it became clear that very little had changed. The press had assumed the Confederates would yield to reason after a few thousand dead. A part of Lincoln longed for this to be true but could not bring himself to believe it. Though the victories were morale boosting, the rebellion had not been won.

Lincoln also had other problems to deal with. Copperheads in the midwest agitated against the suppression of the south and most of Tennessee was now firmly under southern control. Indeed, there were insurgencies in Kentucky, Missouri and as far west as Arizona and California.

Lincoln had to dispatch a large portion of troops further west despite desiring to focus all his martial capacity upon Richmond.

At least with these small armies (which had a bit more time to train and organize), Lincoln could pick more aggressive men to command.
Chapter 4
August 1861

Washington DC

With a heavy heart, Lincoln read some captured Virginia newspapers which confirmed the worst. Despite having suffered reverses on the battlefield, the Confederacy only doubled-down on their stubbornness and called for 300,000 volunteers.

Oddly, this was of less import to many southerners than the debate over cotton exports. Some southerners called for an.....EMGARGO....of all things. This made little sense to Lincoln as it would seem that the south could use all the trade it could get. Cotton was far and away America's most valuable export, certainly for the south.

Eventually, Lincoln was inquire with Seward, his secretary of state. While the patrician New Yorker had long resented Lincoln defeating him for the Republican nomination in 1860, the two had come to an understanding which resembled mutual response. Lincoln had enough problems to pick a fight with his Secretary of State and a major power broker in his own party. Indeed, the Democrats remained strong in Congress despite so many solidly Democratic states seceding.

Seward explained that some southerners hoped that Britain would jump into the fight (and maybe France as well) if the supply of cotton were to be cut off completely. The south remained the largest supplier of cotton on earth and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of weavers in both countries relied upon cotton. Moreover, by limiting the supply, the South could force a massive rise in the value, thus receiving similar revenues for producing considerably less production.

Seward doubted that the Embargo talk would come to anything. The South needed a reliable source of funds to purchase and produce weapons. Playing games like an embargo made little sense. Besides, Seward pointed out, the Confederacy was hardly a monolithic unit. Some states may refuse to abide, thus profiting from their fellows' discipline. He reminded Lincoln that the Governor of George refused to release his state troops to fight at Bull Run, pointing out that "Georgians would only fight to protect Georgia".

The two men were in general agreement upon Foreign policy. Seward was to manage the Ambassadors in any way which kept foreign intervention to a minimum. However, Seward was far more of a Radical on other subject.

"Mr. President, may I remind you that nearly four million potential allies lay in wait to be called upon to defend the nation," Seward reminded the President less than subtly.

Lincoln nodded wearily. "I agree that calling upon the slaves to arm may provide another source of manpower...."

"And discombobulate the South", Seward interjected.

"...but we barely managed to establish control over Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and parts of Tennessee and Virginia," Lincoln continued, ignoring the interruption. "Such a provocative move may cause more problems than it solves."

Frustrated, Seward gestured for the newspapers, "The south is calling for 300,000 more men. Do you truly believe that further pandering to slaver interests will return the South to fealty."

Reigning in his temper, Lincoln managed to reply evenly, "Until our peace feelers are rejected, I will not follow that path. If they are rejected this fall....we shall return to the subject."

Western Theater

Henry Hallock was a skilled military theorist....but was proving to be a piss-poor commander in the field. While over 40,000 troops were already under his nominal command, Hallock had split his forces among three subordinates:

1. Grant was responsible for the Army of Eastern Tennessee and east of the Tennessee River, Grant was already planning an assault on the key positions of Fort Henry on the Tennessee and Fort Henry on the Cumberland. Once these positions fell, control over the vital riverways would allow greater ability to dominate central Tennessee.
2. Hunter controlled the Army of Kansas (West of Mississippi River, though this would soon be turned over to Pope whom was ordered into Texas.
3. Buell commanded the Army of the Mississippi.

Facing the Union were the following commanders.

1. Leonidas Polk - Army of the West
2. Braxton Bragg - Army of Tennessee
3. William Hardee - Army of the the Cumberland - Intended to invade Eastern Tennessee but never gained enough manpower.

Each of these armies were still in rough formation and struggling for supply and trained manpower. The primary action of 1861 was the assemblage of adequate naval resources to dominate the Mississippi, Tennessee, Cumberland and Ohio Rivers.


Despite calls for an Embargo from cotton producers, the dire financial situation did not allow this. Perhaps worse was the cries from the War Department as the lack of cannon, muskets, rifles, shells, shot, powder, etc proved pivotal in forging armies. Manpower, the South had. Weapons in which to arm them for a long term conflict, they did not.

Already, the Confederate army Generals were complaining of large numbers of different types of muskets was making logistics difficult and not a single heavy cannon had yet to be forged in the south though there were frantic efforts to change this.

Foreign acquisitions were the only immediate possibility and the Confederates had agents all over Europe attempting to acquire arms. Confederate spies had spoken of Winfield Scott's "Anaconda Plan" to dispatch the much stronger Union Navy (currently small but rapidly expanding with new armor plated ships) to blockade southern ports. Once that occurred, it would become increasingly difficult to get ANYTHING through.

But Confederate President Jefferson Davis had another motive for keeping trade going: it was standard international conduct to respect the blockades of other nations. As long as the blockade was kept up, neutral parties were prohibited from utilizing those ports. However, Davis cannily realized that the Union was not yet ready to blockade all the LARGEST ports, much less ALL of them. Thus the British, French and other "neutral" traders would continue to come calling. Sooner or later....probably SOONER....there would be an event in which a foreign trading ship would enter Confederate waters seeking to trade and finding a new Union blockading squadron. If the Union Admiral did not act with restraint, an incident may drive Europe to recognize the Confederacy....even aiding in breaking the blockade. Any pretense these European nations may have in not openly aiding the Confederacy with loans, sales of arms or direct intervention would be finished.

With the defeats in Northern Virginia over the summer, the Confederacy's confidence had been badly shaken.

Maybe Union blundering may help.

September, 1861

Northern Virginia

It had taken weeks for McDowell to reassert control over his command. Unfortunately, during that time, Beauregard had built heavy defenses further south and pulled forth reinforcements.

Lincoln was rumored to be unhappy with his performance. McDowell knew that, should he fail to assault again before winter, he would be replaced by Thanksgiving.

He began to probe Beauregard's defenses, seeking a weakness. The last thing he wanted was to charge directly into the teeth of an entrenched Army.
Chapter 5
October, 1861


In the Convention of London, the three largest European owners of European debt would agree to dispatch Naval forces to Veracruz, the predominant port of Mexico. There, they would blockade the port, marching to a few inland cities and generally make themselves such a nuisance that Mexico would agree to pay back her debts.

Of course, the British and Spanish did not realize that Napoleon III did not intend to leave. Seeing Britain's Empire expand unabated for the past fifty years, Prussia looking more and more like a rival than the secondary power it had been since the death of Frederick the Great, a diminishing birth rate and general lack of confidence, the French Emperor recognized not only that his nation risked falling further and further behind but his own throne put at risk.

Adding colonies and expanding the Empire was usually a good public relations move.

Vilna, Kingdom of Poland

With the humiliating loss of the Crimean War to a coalition of most of the powers of Europe (Britain, France, Austria, the Piedmont and the Ottoman), Alexander II had quietly attempted to modernize his country.

He was not about to start by allowing these damned Polish revolutionaries to reform an Independent Commonwealth. While Alexander II would offer concessions on religious freedom, etc, he would not grant independence to a large and valuable portion of his Empire. The previous century, much of Poland had fallen to Russia in the Polish Partitions. A bit more came after the Napoleonic Wars. Now most of the old Commonwealth remained under the Czar's authority. He would not give it up to a bunch of nationalist clerks and students.

The riots in Vilna were a response to rumors of an impending conscription of Poles into the Russian Army. These were swiftly crushed and the leaders of the Polish September Uprising of 1861 forced into flight.

In 1861, most of Europe was sympathetic to the Poles (who wouldn't be) but neighboring nations of Prussia and Austria did not want the rebellion stretching to their own Polish regions. Concerns voiced by Britain and France were politely ignored as the Czar was certain that the Continent had no interest in another war with Russia.

By 1862, dozens of Polish rebel officers and leaders had been forced from the Continent and many went on to America including Michel Heydenriech, Ramuald Traugutt and Stefan Bobrowski. After the revolt was put down, the irritated Alexander II would extend the emancipation of the Serfs from Russia to the Polish lands, ruining hundreds of nobles who launched a new rebellion, this one dominated by the aristocracy. This was defeat by summer of 1862 and resulted in the Imperial confiscation of thousands of landed estates.

Peasants were given land not out of charity but to separate them from the Szlochta (nobility). All previous autonomy from Russia was removed. All Polish officials were fired and replaced with Russians. All schools were ordered only to teach in Russian. The last vestiges of the Polish Kingdom were replaced by ten new Russian provinces.

Many of thee nobles, middle class gentry and even peasants would abandon Poland for the Continent and the first significant immigration of Eastern Poles, Jews and Russians would take advantage of more lax passport regulations in the aftermath of the rebellion to depart for America.



Having helped unite most of the Italian nation (minus his own homeland of Savoy which had been granted to France and, of course, the holdout truncated Papal State), Giuseppe Garibaldi would receive a missive from America's President. While he was flattered at the offer to command an army, Garibaldi had lost his taste for war that did not involve Italy.

He did, however, recommend his Polish friend Marion Langiewicz, who had been advised not to return to Poland after the crushed September revolution.
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Chapter 6
October, 1861

Washington D.C.

Having spent weeks prodding Mc Dowell forward, the President finally managed to get the man moving south. While McDowell had many valid reasons for wasting nearly three months since the Federal victory at Bull Run - lack of supply, the need to reorganize his confused army, desire for more training, want of siege weapons, etc, etc, etc - Lincoln refused to accept these explanations as the rebels had the same problems or even greater. More importantly, the reprieve had allowed the rebels to build up strong defensive lines nearly from the shores of the Tidewater to the mountains of the interior.

Lincoln felt that the victory at Bull Run should have resulted in a march upon the still largely undefended Confederate capital. But now, three months later, there was no doubt that the city of Richmond had made great strides in forming her defenses.

But with McDowell finally moving ponderously south, the President was able to get another office sorted. He'd intended to place James Ripley in command of the Army Board of Ordnance but that fellow fell in the Shenandoah. Consulting with General Scott, Lincoln agreed with an ideal successor.

Colonel George McClellan, his left trouser leg empty and folded upward after losing that digit at the knee in the same battle which claimed Ripley, entered Lincoln's office. The President offered the soldier a seat and summoned a glass of port. Truly, McClellan must possess a powerful will to be ambulatory just a few months after a life-threatening injury.

"Colonel", the President began, "I am in a quandary. Colonel Ripley was intended to assume command of the Board of Ordnance but his passing naturally requires a change to those plans. I must find the right man for the job. I feel that the weapons in place on the battlefield, save perhaps the Cannon, are obsolete. The reports of those Prussian needle guns seem to indicate that even those spectacular Enfields may be past their prime."

McClellan nodded, "I feel the same, sir. The traditional muzzle-loaded musket has had its day. Breechloader repeaters like the Spencer and Sharpe's are the future. Their rate of fire is five to seven times faster, are more accurate, etc. Yes, some of the old guard fear that ammunition would be wasted but, in battle, firing five to seven times the bullets at the enemy will likely result in victory. Logistics can be solved later."

Relieved, the President nodded, "Unfortunately, these weapons are not yet prepared to be manufactured in high volumes. We need a man in the Ordinance to speed that along. I feel that you are the man for the job.....Brigadier General McClellan."

"I'm honored, sir," McClellan replied smoothly though he expected Brigadier to be the LEAST of his ranks after his courage in the Shenandoah. But he could lobby for a Major General position later. "But, bear in mind, the nation's gunmakers are geared only to produce the Enfields in bulk. It may take months to switch over production to other models. We shall lose much production, at least until spring. Are you prepared to be short tens of thousands of muskets while we make this change?"

Lincoln didn't hesitate for a moment, "Yes, far better to have one modern weapon that two obsolete."

"Understood, sir," McClellan agreed. "Let us hope McDowell will crush the rebels in Virginia this very month but, if not, I fear that this war may last longer than any of us hoped. By the end of next year, I am certain that America will possess the arsenal to grind the southerners into submission."

With those words, McClellan left the Presidential mansion for his new office, secure that he was Lincoln's new favorite. A staff position over the winter was hardly a bad thing and McClellan was in full agreement with Lincoln's manufacturing strategy. The New Jersey man would carry it out with typical skill.

However, once the scars over his stump were healed, McClellan damned well expected to be put back in the field. He doubted that that grannyish McDowell or poor fat Winfield Scott were capable of bringing Johnny Reb to heel. The nation needed McClellan and he planned to save America.

Northern Virginia

Though the Army of Eastern Virginia had defeated the Confederates in the first, large-scale battle in what would be known as the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression), Irvin McDowell had hesitated too long in following it up. For days, McDowell patiently probed the rebel defenses, looking for a weakness. Finally, rather than taking the most direct route to Richmond across the Rappahannock, he opted to cross the Rapidan further to the west and sweep eastwards from there, thereby avoiding the Confederate stronghold of Fredericksburg.

Finally convinced that General Rosecrans to the west had the Shenandoah bottled up and he need not fear the Confederates flanking so far into his rear, McDowell forced Beauregard to pull from his defensive lines and face him in open battle. Unfortunately, McDowell seemed to have dueling priorities: destroy the Confederate Army centered at Fredericksburg......and seize Richmond.

His army now augmented to 45,000 slightly better trained troops, McDowell could not put off the President any long and marched southwards. However, as the Union marched, their own numbers dwindles as McDowell was forced to leave entire Corps behind to occupy towns and generally protect the supply line. In the meantime, Beauregard was able to consolidate his own forces, now augmented by local militia and reinforcements from Richmond's garrison and regions further south.

By the time the two armies clashed, each commander possessed roughly 35,000 men immediately available to him. McDowell struck the first blow, sending a 10,000 man charge which brought Beauregard's right flank into confusion and seizing some local high ground. However, Beauregard ordered his best General, Longstreet to regain the high ground and did so with a bloody charge. In the meantime, the Confederate cavalry would assault the Union right, bring this into disorder. Seeing confusion, he followed up with an infantry charge there, sending a whole Corps into confusion.

McDowell promptly threw his reserves forward to regain control over these hills, which they barely managed to do.

By the end of day 1, both sides had suffered 2500 to 3000 casualties and not a single inch of territory had been gained. McDowell was slow to react on the second day, a mistake Beauregard did not make. He reorganized his troops and this time assaulted the weakened Union left. Once again, the Federals gave way under the bayonets but this time there was no large reserve to close the gap. Only a last moment cavalry charge by the Union men kept the retreat from a route.

Suddenly finding himself at risk of being cut off, McDowell beat a hasty retreat back across the Rapidan.

Lincoln, hearing of the fiasco, was livid that THIS was the best McDowell could do after stalling for nearly three months. Winter was coming and, even in mild Virginia, there were few who deserted a winter campaign. The Union Army remained north of the Rapidan for the remainder of the year as Lincoln selected a new commander.

The Shenandoah

While General Rosecrans was certainly an improvement over General Patterson in the Army of Pennsylvania, he was not having much luck in the Shenandoah. Expecting to face Joe Johnston, a cautious officer, Rosecrans was dismayed to find that Johnston had been relieved (largely due to Beauregard's lobbying in order to eliminate a rival) and the rebel Army of the Shenandoah given to the aggressive Thomas Jackson. Despite being outnumbered 30,000 to 17,000, Jackson's rapid movements essentially ran rings around the increasingly frustrated Rosecrans. Jackson would appear as if out of no where to crush an unwary Union Corps and then disappear. Jeb Stuart's cavalry was almost as bad (or, in some cases, more devastating).

The lush Shenandoah valley, though, was a breadbasket of the Confederacy and key to feeding the northern armies. If the Valley fell, then eastern Virginia would be even more isolated. The Union had a secondary objective of protecting the western counties of Virginia which remained loyal to the Union and were lobbying for recognition as an independent state (the east and west had long been politically adversarial over structural and economic differences). Seizing the Shenandoah would protect these Loyalists and also secure the supply and rail lines east.

Hearing of Rosecrans' troubles, Lincoln made the last minute decision to temporarily reallocate 7000 men promised to Grant in Eastern Tennessee (another region seeking ironically secession from their state) as well as 5000 intended to reinforce the stagnant McDowell and sent them to the Shenandoah under the loyal Virginian George Henry Thomas. Thomas managed to catch one of Jackson's brigades in maneuver and maul it, forcing Jackson to abandon his plans to keep hammering Rosecrans and turn two of his Corps upon Thomas. The two Virginians squared off in a tactical draw but one which cost Jackson over 1000 men.

Now down over 1/3 of his force from just a few months prior (17,000 down to 11,000), his exhausted men had marched their boots into dust and were ill-prepared for even a relatively mild Shenandoah winter. Jackson's supplies were dwindling and he realized that he was now outnumbered 3.5 to 1. Rosecrans had managed to regain some semblance of control and accepted his orders to "march until you see nothing but mountain to the south", meaning seize the entirety of the Valley.

Bruised but not beaten, Rosecrans managed to point his force south with Thomas in tow. Jackson was forced to relay upon spoiling attacks only, for he knew he could not win a pitched battle. By December, the Confederates had been chased from the Shenandoah and the Rosecrans able to garrison the hills to the south, fully plugging Confederate access to the fertile region.
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So the Confederacy is suddenly in deep trouble -yet this is not the end? What sort of mess are things supposed to devolve into?
Looks like the Union will be slow to go on the offensive due to a shortage of arms because of the switch to repeating rifles and cartridge ammo.
Those weapons could take longer to make than expected and have reliability problems when they arrive not to mention logistics problems keeping the troops supplied in the field.
The repeating rifles will not be firing mine balls so less devesting injuries on the confederate side.
With the confederate habit of raid union supplies, the confederates will end up with a lot of union replating rifles too.
I suspect the Union is being set up for bigger problems in the medium to longer term.
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Chapter 7
November, 1861

Mobile Bay

Throughout the past seven months of hostilities between North and South, trade would continue easily from northern ports. But the modest American Navy was growing by leaps and bounds. By the end of 1861, full blockading squadrons, far beyond the capacity for the Confederates to match, would be placed permanently at the mouths of the James RIver (Richmond), Charleston Harbor and the Mississippi Delta (New Orleans). Fernandina, Island (northeastern Florida), the Florida Keys and islands off of Savannah harbor were also seized by the Federals, severely constraining Confederate trade.

Most of the other Confederate ports weren't even defended. By the close of 1861, the expansive port of Wilmington was the largest port in use by the Confederates and their main blockade runner sanctuary. Even this was severely harassed by a large squadron.

Throughout 1861, the US Navy expanded nearly 300% over its peaceful active warships (even accounting for some ships being seized by the Confederacy) and this would triple again the following year.

It became obvious that, by 1862, even secondary ports would see permanent blockading squadrons drop anchor. Thus any Confederate exports tended to escape smaller harbors like Mobile, Biloxi, Galveston, etc. Both Confederate ships and foreign vessels docked though always with an eye over their shoulder for the arrival of Federal ships.

International law held that neutral ships may not test an active blockade. But, should the combatant fail to maintain the blockade, the port was fair game. The British, in particular, advocated for this interpretation as the foremost naval power of the day. They had utilized the blockade many time over the centuries to great effect, particularly against Napoleon I. Though Britain longed for continued trade with the Southern cotton producers, the nation by nature did not wish to set a precedent against a legal blockade.

As it so happened, a late fall storm had forced the small flotilla guarding Mobile to retreat to safer waters. This allowed a dozen traders to flood the port and load up their holds with desperately needed bales of cotton and other goods. However, as the ships escaped one by one, the Federal ships returned and fell upon the traders, seizing six in all, their holds full. Prize crews were placed aboard and shipped north to New York for distribution.

However, two of these ships were registered to Great Britain and one to France.


Though McDowell's ham-fisted November Campaign had ended with a stalemate, it was not without positive effect for the Union for a cavalry raid deep into Confederate territory had torn up the vital railroad arteries connecting the city to the rest of the Confederacy. While northern industrial capacity outweighed the Confederacy 10 to 1 at the start of the war, much of even this modest amount for the South resided in Richmond and Northern Virginia.

Cutting the rail lines in a dozen spots crippled the embryonic Confederate industry. The Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond was the only iron producer of substance in the entire Confederacy and other attempts to industrialize, though energetically pursued, would never make any significant difference. It would take over a month to strip secondary rail lines to get the main lines moving again.

Textile mills were relatively few and far between, usually manned by slaves (estimates of southern manufacturing held that roughly 150,000 slaves worked in manufacturing compared to only 11,000 whites). The rise in prices due to the blockade was already seeing profit taking among mill owners. They were able to produces clothes and shoes for high profits for public sale and often refused to even quote military contracts as not being worth their time.

Only the precious cotton, tobacco and other exports provided capital to purchase cannon and other arms (items always possible to purchase on the international market with little difficulty).

Thus, repeated calls for an embargo were rejected by Jefferson Davis.

Washington DC

Frustrated by the repeated complaints by senior Generals in the Western Theater, Henry Hallock was recalled to Washington for "Consultations" and to assume command of training the troops. The two major army commanders out west, Buell and Grant, were given additional control over their forces. Grant, in particular, promised action well before Spring.

Hallock was a true military scholar, one of the best since Winfield Scott (still serving as Lincoln's "Advisor") but did not have the personality to force his will upon his subordinates. Training raw troops would be a better use of his skills.

General McDowell was also reassigned, this time as commander of the Washington garrison. He was a good man capable of organizing a force but not aggressive enough. Here Lincoln chose a younger man, Joseph Hooker, who always seemed eager for battle. This is what Lincoln needed.

In the meantime, General John Pope, another fighting man, was granted an independent command out west. Assuming command of the "Army of Kansas" west of the Mississippi, Pope was ordered to seize eastern Texas. Granted 16,000 men for the task, including 5000 cavalry, the President hoped that this would be adequate given that Texas, thanks to Colonel Robert E. Lee, had failed to seize much in the way of arms from Federal Arsenals.

Indeed, Lincoln had made several entreaties towards Lee in hopes of getting him to assume a Union commission. However, the distinguished man declined every time. As it was, Lee had been instrumental in organizing a hospital on his property in Arlington where the Colonel's entire family aided Union and Confederate soldiers alike. General Scott had been adamant that Lee was the best soldier America had produced in generations but nothing could get Lee to fight his own "countrymen". Given that his plantation, in the outskirts of Washington D.C., remained under Union control, it at least seemed unlikely the Virginian would abandon his family and property to support the Southern Cause.

Perhaps, Lincoln thought, this was the best he could hope for.

Inlet off of Cork, Ireland

Though the American merchant Captain was not of Irish lineage, he was happy to take Irish money. In addition to the hold full of grain he would deliver to Cork the following morning, he also made a quiet stop at a small seaside town outside to the west of the city. Indeed, his crew didn't even set foot upon dry land. The Irishmen rowed out from shore, picked up several dozen long wooden boxes, and rowed back.

For several hours, they Irish made the same journey as twilight turned to night. Far too late, the merchant heard the roar of a motor. The Irishmen returning from shore promptly turned about and rowed vigorously for land. Realizing his danger he ordered the last few boxes thrown overboard.

To his embarrassment, he realized that he should have checked if they were waterproofed as the boxes simply floated on the waves for the approaching British customs ship to collect. It was obvious that escape was impossible so the Captain calmly as he could waited to be boarded as the British sailors hauled one of the boxes to the deck. A crowbar swiftly opened it.

Within were a twenty Sharpe's rifles.

Kingston, Canada West, Province of Canada

Via the Act of Union, 1840, Upper Canada (now Canada West) and Lower Canada (now Canada East) formed the cumbersome Province of Canada. Shortly thereafter, the old French-British, Catholic-Protestant dynamic would be further disturbed by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of impoverished Irish Catholics swamping the small Canadian cities.

The social order, long problematic, grew even more so with the Famine. The Orange Order, supported primarily by Irish Protestants of long residence, would cause violence to break out on a regular basis. Parades would turn to brawls all the way across Canada (and the Maritimes).

In 1837/38, there were a series of uprisings in Canada against British rule. Most of the worst of the discontent had dulled over the years. But the arrival of so many Irish (Famine refugees made up an estimated 10% of all of British North America) would lead to additional unrest. The Act of Union 1840 was intended to resolve this.

But friction with the new Irish immigrants continued. Indeed, the worst of the "Coffin Ships", barely seaworthy, plague-filled vessels which carried the Irish to Canada, were considered the worst and least safe of all the migrant vessels. Virtually all were British registry. The Irish Catholics would harbor long memories about this.

As it so happened, in December of 1861, the owning of several of these (now-defunct) Coffin ships loudly toasted to the Queen's health and made few slurs directed towards the Irish as he enjoyed his evening libations and left late to walk home with some of his friends. He was an Orange Order stalwart and hated by Kingston's Irish Catholic community. Only a few steps from home, a hail of gunfire, mostly pistols would erupt from the alleys. Four men were killed including a passer-bye named John A. MacDonald.

MacDonald was a Conservative but one which worked closely with the Catholics of the Province of Canada in alliance. He had been working towards a unified British North America for years.

Hours later several Irish were arrested and the weapons in question discovered. They were American Colt 1851's.

By the following evening, riots were spreading like wildfire throughout the Province of Canada.
Nice work.
I suspect the Fenians will soon be setting off bombs in all sorts of unexpected places.
How well the British do against them will depend on how well the British network of paid informers and spies work. Traditional spies in the ranks of Irish rebels led to the failure of Irish rebellions. British spies report back aid from America will lead to increased tension with the Union.