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

Chapter 1
  • Chapter 1

    1861 - February

    Illinois


    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

    May


    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.
     
    Chapter 2
  • June, 1861

    Paris


    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.

    Richmond

    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

    London


    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.

    December1861,

    Turin


    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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    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.

    Richmond

    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.
     
    Chapter 8
  • December, 1861

    Puebla


    The British, French and Spanish fleet arrived of the coast of Puebla, the primary Mexican port through which nearly all Mexican exports and imports flowed. Unopposed by any Mexican ships or troops, the Europeans calmly disembarked without incident and assumed control over the city. If there were any Mexican soldiers present, they absented themselves quickly enough. The local mayor and dignitaries eventually approached the nominal leader of the allies, a Spaniard, and it was explained that the Europeans would not molest any persons or property provided they were not interfered with.

    For the most part, the Europeans followed through. Most of the allied Marines marched inland to several smaller cities and assumed control. A week after arrival, not a single drop of blood had been shed.

    President Juarez dispatched a messenger to Puebla asking for a parlay, an invitation promptly accepted.

    Europe

    Over the past decade, Europe had politically convulsed but had avoided most major wars on the Continent.

    The Crimean War was less than a generation in the past. Here Russian ambitions to gain easy access to the sea resulted in Britain, France, Austria, the Ottoman and Piedmont going to war to restrict another colonial contender from the high seas. Russia was defeated, humiliatingly so and simmered for revenge.

    Britain was still psychologically recovering from the Sepoy Rebellion and the Irish Famine.

    Italy had largely been united into a unified ethno-centric country for the first time since the Roman Empire only the previous year, minus Savoy and Marseille (which went to France), Venetia (still part of the Habsburg Empire) and the remnant of the Papal State. The Italians had managed to drive out the assorted local Kings and united them under one throne despite Austrian opposition only with the help of France (Marseille being the cost of this "aid").

    Austria opted against pressing the matter given her problems maintaining any semblance of hegemony in Germany. Prussia was already dominating the Northern Confederation and Austria's southern allies proving less than dynamic compared to the Hohenzollerns. Most of Germany already had joined the Prussian camp. After nearly 75 years of decline following the death of Frederick II (the great) largely due to the a succession of weak rulers. Now, with men like Moltke and Bismarck leading the nation, the old Prussian military machine appeared as deadly as her diplomacy.

    Oddly, the Papal State only remained in existence due to the presence of French troops. While France had sought to form a stronger Italy against the threats of Austria and Prussia, Napoleon III could not disinherit the Papacy entirely, not with France's Catholic population in opposition. Indeed, Napoleon III tried again and again to get the Pope to concentrate on his spiritual powers and cede corporeal relations to the Italian King....to no avail. Now the French presence in Rome was driving a wedge between Paris and what was viewed as her natural ally.

    Humiliated at her defeat in Italy, Austria was unwilling to ally with Italy and France against Prussia's ambitions despite that plainly serving Austrian interests. It had been some time since Austria was a match for much of anyone diplomatically.

    Poland had been absorbed into Russia as a mere province despite almost universal opposition. There would be no "Polish War" though as Europe had little stomach for another costly Russian campaign. Russia was also seeking a closer alliance with Greece against the Ottoman plainly in hopes of dominating the Balkans and Black Sea.

    Now, two historic rivals, Britain and France, were acting in unison against Mexico (along with Spain, which had long since ceased to be a great power).

    Among the most odd twists of fate in 1861 was the fact that Denmark was proving to be an unlikely source of friction on the continent. Frederick VII of Denmark (and the German Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein) was childless and the various succession laws of his three states made for a....complex....situation.

    The Danes preferred Christian of Glucksberg while the Germans demanded a member of the House of Augustenburg....or just direct annexation to Prussia. Austria could hardly support the Danes for fear of losing what little German sentiment they possessed. Ironically, the current arrangement of separate governing bodies (regardless of who would inherit) between the autocratic German states and the democratic Danish government. It had been a political necessity to keep the peace after the last war. Now Britain was being put into the position of using force to ensure an autocratic succession against the will of the people, all for the benefit of an aggressive Prussian power.

    When King Frederick VII, only in his early 40's, he felt he was going to have plenty of time to work out the succession. When the Parliament of Denmark updated the Constitution which would absorb Schleswig and Holstein into the nation, he felt honor bound to agree.
     
    Chapter 9
  • February, 1862

    Northern Tennessee


    Since the start of the war, mountainous Eastern Tennessee had remained largely under Federal control but the Central and western regions remained under rebel domination. This would change in February when Grant, now in overall command of the Western Theater (much to his regional rivals' Buell and Pope great dismay), would assault the vital rivers of Tennessee.

    While the Cumberland River was not the "Northern Border" of Tennessee, for all intents and purposes it acted as such. Central Tennessee was boxed into the Cumberland to the North and the sweeping Tennessee river which swung south through eastern Tennessee, then flowed west a bit in northern Alabama before turning north again. The capital of Nashville was in the northern portion of this "box" and dominating the Rivers guaranteed effectively control over the state.

    1627338878377.png


    Two fortifications would resist Grant. One, Fort Henry, on the Cumberland was in poor repair and dismally situated. Working in tandem with the Union river squadron, Grant would make to assault Fort Henry only for the defender to evacuate to the much better positioned Fort Donelson. With Fort Henry's fall, the Tennessee River's outlet to the Mississippi River had fallen.

    Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland, was a much tougher nut to crack. A week long series of attacks from the landward side in addition to significant Naval support effectively placed the sprawling Fort under siege. Eventually, the Confederate's lost control over several key battlements and Union artillery allowed to pummel the remainder of the Fort.

    The Confederate commander, John Floyd, had been secretary of war in the Buchanan administration and had been accused of using the last few months of Buchanan's Presidency to place southern men in key positions and arrange for supplies to be transferred to the south. This was not secessionism but base treason. Fearing hanging if captured, the Confederate Generals Floyd and Pillow attempted to flee past the Naval force in the black of night, abandoning their command. They didn't make it. Pillow was killed by Union naval fire and Floyd captured.

    General Buckner, the remaining Confederate officer, would seek terms but received Grant's "Unconditional Surrender" ultimatum. 12,000 men surrendered along with a large portion of the Confederacy's supplies, guns, ammunition, etc.

    It would be a devastating blow as the defeat effectively ensured Union control over the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers....and therefore all of Central Tennesse.

    The only escapees were 700 Confederate Cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest who, disgusted at the cowardice of Floyd and Pillow, would managed to flee through the chilly LIck Creek. It's unguarded nature lent evidence that much of the rest of the Confederate Army might have escaped had anyone thought of it.

    Within two months, the Confederates would abandon the vital industrial (by southern standards) city of Nashville and most of Central Tennessee.


    London

    Jingoistic calls to war had been echoing for months in London all resolutely pushed by the Confederate "Envoy" James Murray Mason. In truth, the British government had yet to even officially acknowledge the Confederacy representative but quiet negotiations were occurring.

    With British ships being seized for running blockades (not entirely accurate), British investors supporting Confederate privateering (and crewing ships), British shipbuilders less-than-discreetly producing ships for the Confederacy, British supplying powder and cannon to the Confederacy and now a series of violent events in Ireland and Canada led to occasionally ridiculous accusations back and forth.

    In truth, First Lord of the Treasury Palmerston and Foreign Secretary John Russell were amused by the American conflict at first. The former colony was industrializing rapidly and, despite little apparent interest in doing so, may have formed a military threat in the future. This Confederate rebellion was thought to be a good thing resulting in a schism making America more easy to control. However, the war now lead to shocking high quantities of men under arms, far more than any British strategist thought remotely possible and the American Navy was reportedly expanding exponentially.

    Worse, the cotton exports had dried up, putting tens of thousands out of work in the midlands, with the potential of hundreds of thousands soon. However, since the Corn Law repeal years before, the northern states of America now produced a large portion of British grain. The other major sources were Canada, Ireland and Russia, all of which could prove problematic on their own in coming months.

    By 1862, the British government now desired stricter neutrality...until these "outrages" commenced.

    Palmerston and Russell had "bigger fish to fry". The joint occupation of Veracruz was rapidly becoming a fiasco as it now was obvious that the French had no intention of leaving. The partnership was immediately dissolved as both Britain and Spain withdrew from Mexico upon promises the Mexican interest payments would resume in two years....after the occupation ended. Realizing they'd been used by Napoleon III so publicly was an embarrassment among the political classes.

    Worse, the King of Denmark had signed a new Constitution which united his Danish, Schleswig and Holstein possession under a modern Liberal Constitution. Many welcomed this development....except that meant the German majority of Schleswig and Holstein were effectively no longer autonomous. This was utterly unacceptable to the Northern German Confederate (dominated by Prussia). Only arguments between Prussia and Austria how to deal with the issue forestalled an invasion. This incident was an embarrassment to Britain as Britain had "guaranteed" the previous status quo. That Britain's political position was so disregarded was a humiliation.

    But all of these problems were nothing compared to Alexander II utilizing the confusion in Europe to effectively roll back the agreements he'd made after the Crimean War, the most notable was that he would not base a fleet in the Black Sea. Dozens of warships already had sailed to the inland sea, no doubt to effect power over the fading Ottoman Empire and influence the Balkans. A treaty between Greece and Russia over the winter did not help.

    Years before, the great powers of Europe had joined together to halt Russian expansion. Now, the Czar reversed all of this within months, all in open defiance to his agreements. This time, there would be no coalition. Europe was apparently intent on tearing itself apart and didn't need any Russian help.

    Now, tension between France and Italy, France and Austria, Italy and Austria, Austria and Prussia and the Northern German Confederation and Denmark led to the potential for a European-wide war, the first in nearly half a century.

    The worst part of it was that no one gave a damn about Britain's feelings about the matter. The foremost power of the age was just being......ignored.

    Washington D.C.

    Lord Lyons was a long time diplomat and one who had no desire to see war between the United States and Britain, much like his counterpart Charles Adams in London. He had written extensively voicing his disapproval of the administration's.....lax.....observation of neutrality in allowing so many weapons and war material to be sold to the south. Now, rumors of modern commerce raiders being specially built by British shipyards for the Confederacy was bringing American ire to a boil.

    Lyons was attempting to convince both Seward and Lincoln (he was certain America did not want a war, they'd be stupid to do so) and his own superiors of the folly of British involvement.

    Lyons was walking towards the Presidential Mansion for yet another meeting with Lincoln when he was bludgeoned from behind by a pair of drunken Irishmen. With the Irish Republican Brotherhood striking blows across Ireland and Canada, the pair happened to recognize the British Ambassador wandering through the streets and, on a whim, struck him down with their clubs.

    While not killed, Lyons was knocked cold and lay in the mud for several minutes as the Irishmen escaped.
     
    Chapter 10
  • April, 1862

    Helena, Arkansas


    Having defeated the Confederates at Pea Ridge in northern Arkansas in March, the Union Army of the Southwest under Brigadier General Curtis, the Federals managed to cross half of Arkansas and seize the Mississippi River-side town of Helena. Arkansas was not highly populated and half the state was now under Union control. What was more, Helena greatly aided Union control over the waterway.

    Memphis, Western Tennessee

    In April, the last major naval engagement ("Major" being a relative term) occurred off of Memphis, Tennessee. Ending with a Union victory, the city was forced to surrender hours later lest it be burned to the ground. Soldiers under Command of General Buell would soon make their way down to the city and occupy the last major block to Vicksburg Mississippi.

    Indian Territory

    Over the past year, the assorted "Civilized" Tribes which had been forcibly moved from their historical homes years before by President Jackson, had been warring among themselves as Union and Confederate factions (along with some general brigands) would make life miserable for the tens of thousands of natives.

    Augmented by several thousand Unionist Cherokee who had taken refuge in Kansas, General John Pope of the Army of Kansas (largely responsible for Kansas and Missouri to this point) marched through the area and reestablished order. Leaving 3000 Federals in Indian Territory along with the Loyal Indians (which formed three Regiments), Pope led 12,000 troops into Texas. As Kansas, Indian Territory and even Texas possessed poorly developed road system, Pope was forced to rely heavily upon cavalry and "living off the land".

    His army was escorted by several hundred Indians and Unionist Texans (including many German settlers which were heavily Unionist). Given that the supply line was....well....non-existent, the General needed all the help he could get. However, his argumentative personality would alienate many allies through his career.

    What Pope DID have going for him was the fact that Robert E. Lee had kept the Federal Arsenal in Texas from Confederate hands. Even over a year later, the Texans had not fully armed themselves despite Galveston being one of the few free ports left in the Confederacy. Part of this was the fact that Texas' civil and military attention was split with some forces marching (or riding railroads) east to aid their....well...Confederates while others still sought to seize New Mexico, Arizona and California.

    Pope, by this already irritated his subordinates beyond description, would enter Texas.

    The Texans, like most southerners, never believed that there would be a full-scale invasion by the Yankees. Indeed, they would be shocked to find a column of California and Arizona Unionists would take El Paso and Fort Quitman in western Texas over the spring and summer.

    Now, they faced 12,000+ troops and lacked any significant organization. Up to this point, Texas had primarily provided horses to the Confederacy and took advantage of having free ports to export cotton (at great profit) while the rest of the Confederacy suffered from a stronger Union blockade. Lacking heavy weapons, the Texas Confederates attempted to belatedly organize into a real army.

    Pope would remain in the more populous and arable Eastern Texas, burning cotton fields and seizing horses and provisions as he went. This was realistically the only option available to him.

    By happenstance, he came upon the home of Sam Houston, the former Governor of Texas who had been removed from office for refusing to serve the Confederacy. Pope was invited to dine and promptly watched the proud old soldier drink himself into a stupor. In contempt, Pope left Houston on the floor of his home and rode further south. In Pope's train several hundred slaves who volunteered to serve the Union Army including several owned by Sam Houston.

    He was determined to cut off Texas from the Mississippi thus did not turn west toward Austin and San Antonio.

    By coincidence, a Union Fleet belatedly blockaded Galveston, closing off one of the last avenues for export in the Confederacy.

    Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip (defenses of New Orleans)

    With most of her defenses pulled north to defend against the expected northern invasion via the Mississippi, New Orleans had been left open to Admiral Farragut's assault from the Caribbean. Sailing through the defending Fortifications at night (losing only one ship), the local Confederate fleet was annihilated. The city itself was largely indefensible and surrendered the next day.

    Within a week, Forts Jackson and St. Philip surrendered after a frightful pounding by Farragut's fleet and General Butler's massed artillery. Neither Fort required an infantry assault. To the invaders' surprise, only about 700 soldiers held the fortifications.

    Butler would then march to New Orleans where fighting Yellow Fever and discourteous ladies took up more of his time than fighting Confederate.

    By summer, the only significant Confederate base on the Mississippi River was Vicksburg.
     
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    Chapter 11
  • June 1862

    Corinth, Mississippi


    Corinth was not a well-known town but a very important one as it served as the cross-roads of two rail lines. The Confederate Secretary of War called it the "vertebrae of the Confederacy". Here, the north-south Ohio and Mobile railroad met the east-west Memphis and Charleston railroad.

    Of course, their value in spring of 1862 was somewhat nebulous given that most of what was north, east and west of the junction was in Union hands.

    Ulysses Grant would mass both the forces directly under his control and those of his nominal subordinate, Buell, and gathered over 90,000 men to press south out of just recently conquered central Tennessee.

    Braxton Bragg and his nominal subordinate, Leonidas Polk, could summon only 65,000 men to defend this vital rail junction.

    Bragg attempted to strike several times against the encroaching Grant but Polk's timidity would leave several counter-attacks begging to be unleashed. Outraged, the obnoxious Bragg would dispatch a dozen complaints of insubordination and cowardice against the inadequate Polk. At long last, no longer willing to wait for approval to relieve Polk, Bragg had his subordinate arrested.

    But who would replace him?

    Finally, Bragg settled upon an unexpected choice, William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman was, in fact, a northerner who had been serving as commandant of the Louisiana Military Academy in Pineville. He had decried the secessions of 1861 as foolish but had not been relieved. He nearly resigned when ordered to receive weapons confiscated from a Federal Arsenal. This was prevented only when the request was withdrawn and the weapons transferred to the forts defending New Orleans.

    Eventually, Sherman would continue teaching, all the while hoping the crisis would blow over. By June, 1861, it had closed as most of the faculty and students had resigned to join the war. Sherman was preparing to return north when he was begged to find a way to keep the school open. Assuming that the war would be over by the time it reopened in June of 1862, Sherman agreed and gathered a new faculty and accepted student.

    However, Sherman, having heard of Butler's deprivations among the citizens of New Orleans and, even more so, the effective Union policy enacted by Western Generals to seize effectively all slaves as "contraband". Sherman held no particular loathing of slavery, indeed he held a low opinion of the Black Race. He imagined his own wife being treated as such and accepted the long-time offer of Bragg to a commission (though this would require approval eventually from the Confederate Congress) as a Brigadier

    Bragg, having lost several key Generals in the past months (including Pillow, Floyd and Buckner captured, Van Dorn and Hood injured and several Divisional leaders killed) and relieved others of duty, would have little choice but to Brevet a promotion to several officers, including Sherman.

    He DID however have another advantage: Thomas Jackson's Army of the Shenandoah, or the 10,000 or so he retained, had escaped west to join him. Bragg implemented an unusually aggressive dual-pincer movement with Jackson and Sherman as the pincers. Grant would atypically prove unready for the action and was caught flat-footed.

    After a series of severe strikes, the Union General opted to cross back into Tennessee to reorganize.

    Bragg claimed a great victory but the rail had been severed in all directions except south.

    The Confederate Congress would approve Sherman's rank and recalled Polk to Richmond. Polk was a long-time friend of President Davis and could not be placed under arrest for insubordination but Davis did agree to get Polk out of the Western Theater.

    As it was, Sherman knew that the matter was not over. He was an old friend of Grant and knew that the Illinoisan was even now preparing for his next assault. THIS time, he would not be caught unaware.

    Washington D.C.

    Having been assured that Hooker intended to assault the Confederate "Northern Army" as the Confederate Army of the Potomac was now know given that it had not been near the Potomac in over a year, Lincoln would spend his morning receiving requested from the endless array of job-seekers and favor-seekers besieging his office every morning.

    It was under this mood that he learned of Grant's defeat at Corinth.

    An hour later, Secretary Seward arrived with a familiar-looking gentleman that took a moment to place. In shock, Lincoln exclaimed, "Ambassador Adams? What are you doing here?"

    Adams shook his head. "Sir, I regret to tell you that my passport was returned and ordered from British waters. Though it did not happen before my ship sailed, I suspect that we shall soon receive a declaration of war on the part of Great Britain."

    Rome

    Tired of waiting for diplomacy to return the nominal Italian Capital to the nearly reunited nation of Italy, thousands of Italian youths gathered outside of the Papal Territories. Giuseppe Garibaldi would be summoned by them to lead an invasion of Rome. Garibaldi had acted without the King's approval before and was willing to do so again.

    The Italian Patriots crossed the border of the Papal State (now much smaller than before) which was kept in existence only due to the small garrison of French troops.

    Berlin

    Probably for the first time in years, Austria stole a march on Prussia diplomatically. Austria agreed to "liberate" Schleswig and Holstein from Denmark on behalf of the German Empire....provided that the House of Augustenburg assumed the crown after the assumed victory over the Danes. All of the major Kingdoms of Germany, including those of Prussia's allies in the north, desired this.

    Foreign Minister Bismarck, however, never intended to do as such and simply planned on added Schleswig and Holstein as provinces under Prussia. But for him to publicly go against German opinion would ensure a political setback for the House of Hohenzollern in Germany. It may even shift some states back to the Austrian camp.

    Bismarck thought about this for some time and finally determined to strike without Austrian or even allied assistance. He didn't need help to seize Schleswig and Holstein. Eventually the uproar would blow over. He doubted any German States would seek to leave the German Confederation.

    One thing he was NOT frightened of was Austria. Let the Habsburg sword rattle. They'd already stupidly alienated themselves from France. There was no one to help Austria should it come to war.
     
    Chapter 12
  • May, 1862

    Washington D.C.


    Having been informed of the British outrage over assorted "acts of war" on the part of the Union against Great Britain (America had its own list of perceived violations on the part of the British), Lincoln summoned a Council of War with Seward, Stanton and his senior Generals.

    "With the potential for war with Britain," the President began grimly, "I believe it behooves us to end this conflict with the South as quickly as possible. We may not be able to control the time and place in which we fight Her Majesty's troops but we certain may with the Confederates."

    He turned to General Hooker, commander of the Army of Eastern Virginia and demanded, "Sir, it is already May. What is your intention with your army?"

    Hooker, unintimidated, countered, "Two weeks, sir, as discussed before. I'm dispatching the majority of my Army, and that of General Rosecran's Army of the Shenandoah," he nodded towards his counterpart and pointed to the map on the expansive table before the men. Smoke blanketed the room, "south on a three-pronged attack on Fredericksburg. Rosecrans will descend from the Shenandoah and flank the rebel defenses from the West. Sedgwick will besiege the northern town of Fredericksburg while I complete my amphibious landing up the Virginia Peninsula. In all, 120,000 men will be march or attacking at the same time."

    The Seventy-five year old Winfield Scott rumbled in his Virginia accent, "The best intelligence we have.....not provided by the Pinkertons....is that the rebels will have roughly 66,000 men available, excluding some local militia. I am in firm agreement, sir. We should attack at all costs now before Britain may bring her resources to bear. It will take some time before Her Majesty gets adequate manpower to North America. We must end the war with the rebels before then."

    "What of a potential attack on Washington, sir?" McDowell, head of Washington's defenses inquired, a trace of worry. "The British burned Washington in the last war. Should we devote so many resources to the attack and leave the Capital defenseless."

    Scott snorted, "Washington was undefended at the time, McDowell. Now, we have great battlements thrown up with 10,000 trained troops, access to 20,000 local militia and another 30,000 men being trained by Hallock less than 20 miles away. If the British managed to burn the city, they should be CONGRATULATED for the achievement and our commanding officers executed for incompetence. Besides, worst comes to worst, we may withdraw our 120,000 men in the course of a few days. The Capital will be fine."

    Lincoln nodded, pleased with the support. "General Grant has assured me than either the bulk of his army, both his and Buell's, will be gainfully moving south within the fortnight or will be providing his resignation on June 1st."

    Henry Hallock, who had been relieved of the command in the Western Theater for timidity and failing to control his Generals, had been put in command of training the raw recruits nearby. He still resented Grant for superceding him. "I tell you again, sir. Grant is too impetuous...and rumors of his drinking...."

    "I CAN'T SPARE THE MAN, GENERAL," Lincoln hissed back. "HE FIGHTS."

    Hooker stifled a laugh and Hallock turned red. Seeing his outburst may have repercussions, the President sighed and nodded towards Hallock. "Hallock, what say you of Britain's capabilities and likely strategy."

    Hallock, behind being a good organizer and timid battlefield General, was a legitimate military scholar and strategist. Lincoln had months ago ordered him to prepare a strategy for a potential war with Britain. Already some of his alterations to coastal defenses and border fortifications near British North America were being implemented.

    "Of course, Mr. President," Hallock replied, "The Royal Navy, of course, is the strongest on Earth. They shall sweep our fleet from the High Seas with ease, no matter what some fools in the Admiralty may say. However, our new ironclads coastal ships may have a chance of protecting our river mouths and harbors."

    Welles, the secretary of the Navy, muttered, "It is entirely possible that the British may be blockading US in a similar manner than we do the Confederates. Soon, WE may be resorting to blockade runners, privateers and commerce raiders as our best hope for naval legitimacy. But, Hallock is correct in saying that we may achieve local superiority in brown water regions. Unfortunately, our ironclads, especially the new ones being launched, are not particularly seaworthy in open water."

    A long silence followed until Hallock continued, "The good news is that the British Army is relatively small. Only 30,000 British regulars and usable colonial troops are in arms to the North in Canada and the Maritimes and these are spread over thousands of miles of front. At the moment, it seems unlikely they would be capable of a major invasion. At best, they may assault targets of opportunity like Detroit, Buffalo, Portland, etc. I've ordered these remote locations to augment their defenses and shifted several thousand soldiers to each. I cannot vow victory in any engagement but certainly there should be no surprises by land. There will be no repeat of Burgoyne's attack in 1777 or Prevost in 1814. And the ability to quickly reinforce via railroad leads me to believe that there shall be no major offensive by land from the North, at least until the British are MASSIVELY reinforced. Still, our defenses will be rapidly built up in the border regions."

    Lincoln nodded, grateful for at least THAT good news. "So the most likely immediate effect of a war with Britain would be attacks on our coastline and trade and probably an increase in sale of weapons to the Confederacy."

    "That is correct, sir," Hallock agreed. "But again, that state of affairs will only last for 6-12 months. You saw how quickly the Union and Confederacy raised huge quantities of troops in a short time. Britain has even greater resources."

    "There are potential facts in our favor, Mr. President," Seward interjected. "Britain has faced unrest in India and Ireland and surely cannot withdraw troops from there. Therefore, any troops Britain is likely to send overseas are likely to be overwhelmingly raw recruits. And despite all the uproar over British sales to the Confederacy, they are selling far more goods, both military and otherwise, to the North than the South. And I don't think that we should ignore the fact that Britain imports a large amount of grain from these shores and are unlikely to want to risk cutting off that supply."

    "All true, Mr. Seward," Lincoln replied, "but let us concentrate on the military aspects..."

    Seward cut off the President, not rudely but largely incapable of stopping himself, "And Britain had her own problems with Ireland's unrest, her disagreement with France over the defacto invasion of Mexico and don't underestimate British concern over Russia's actions of late, effectively throwing out the restriction imposed after the Crimean War without the bulk of Europe even noticing...."

    "THANK YOU, Seward," Lincoln interjected, "But let us concentrate on what WE can affect, not what other can do."

    Seward reigned in his own temper and managed to reply evenly, "Sir....there is ANOTHER source of resources which we have not seen fit to take advantage...."

    Lincoln sighed and produced a parchment from his pocket, "Gentlemen, our Secretary of State is correct. There IS another source of manpower we've been slow to utilize. This, in my hand, is a Proclamation of Emancipation for all slaves currently residing in states under rebellion. I believe this would be well received by the Abolitionist element in Britain and serve as an Olive Branch for the negotiators I've sent to Britain in hopes of keeping the peace with Her Majesty."

    Lincoln turned his eyes to Hooker and stated plainly, "Sir, I call upon you...and, of course, General Grant out west....to provide me a victory upon which this document would be given actual credence. If we are defeated in these campaigns.....then it would just be a piece of paper waved about by a vanquished nation. May you go with God, Hooker, and give me an occasion to read these pages and put an end to these divisions between the states."
     
    Chapter 13
  • June, 1862

    Washington DC


    John Hay elbowed this way through the crowded waiting room of the Presidential Mansion. As usual, it was chock full of favor-seekers or office-mongers. Several recognized him but he managed to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to their calls as he fled towards the Private offices of the President. Angry threats by several disappointed visitors had led to a modest security detachment guarding the door to the inner sanctum.

    The President's private secretary was almost through when he noted, to his astonishment, the graying visage of an old soldier seated with a younger man.

    "Colonel Lee?" he exclaimed in shock. "How are you, sir?"

    "Quite well, Mr. Hay," Lee replied in his elegant Virginia drawl. "My son and I have come to Washington on a matter of some importance."

    Hay, late for his own meeting, whispered, "I shall see what I can do to gain a few minutes of the President's time. I'm sure he would like to speak with you."

    Robert E. Lee had been offered a commission many times in the past year only to refuse them all, stating he could not bear arms against Virginia. Even an offer of a command in the Western Theater did nothing to alter this position. But Lincoln, Scott and others in the government still held out hopes that the venerable soldiers would change his mind, maybe once Virginia has been fully conquered.

    Doing as requested, Lee waited and, forty-five minutes later, was called into the President's office.

    The President shook the Virginians hand and introduced himself to the young man with him as his eldest son, George Washington Lee, another former soldier who resigned when Virginia seceded from the Union.

    "Gentlemen, I cannot express my gratitude to you and your good family for the many kindnesses the Lee family offered to wounded soldiers after Bull Run and other engagements. Many young men owe their lives to you, both Northern and Southern," Lincoln waxes expansively. "I wish you would accept the government's offer to reimburse you for the acres of your property utilized as a cemetery."

    "No, thank you, Mr. President," Lee shook his head, "I have no desire to profit from the deaths of so many fine young men."

    Lincoln nodded, "I quite understand, sir. Though I fear I know the answer, by any chance is this visit in response to my standing offer of a commission?"

    "No, sir, my position has not changed," Lee replied gently.

    "I feared as much," the President smiled and gestured towards some chairs. "Let us take a few minute and talk about what DID bring you from Arlington this morning."

    Hay quietly brought over some coffee and poured the four of them.

    "My son, George, here has been working to ensure that the Confederate prisoners are being properly cared for,...." Lee began. As the Virginian expounded, Lincoln grew more and more grim. The younger Lee then presented a report compiled regarding the unsanitary conditions of the various prison camps. By this point, Lincoln was visibly angry.

    "Gentlemen, if you will bear with me for a few minutes, I happen to have Secretary Stanton arriving for another meeting and together we shall get to the bottom of this. I gave strict orders to treat the Confederates as prisoners of war despite some preferring to treat them as criminals."

    Duly, Stanton arrived and was initially happy to see Lee as the Virginian had long been courted for a commission. However, when it became apparent that the Lees had arrived with a list of complaints regarding prisoners of war, a matter relating to Stanton's department. Defensively, Stanton mentioned lack of resources, lack of knowledge of how to keep so many men, reports of Confederate cruelties at camps such as Andersonville, etc.

    This last drew Lincoln's ire, "Stanton, WE are not responsible for Andersonville, WE are only responsible for the prisoners whom have surrendered to us!"

    Lincoln turned to George Washington Lee and stated quietly, "Mr. Lee, would you be willing to lead a commission of like-minded Congressmen, Doctors, etc to review each major camp in the next week, put together a report to me with recommendations how to improve them? I am prepared to guarantee that the War Department will obey each and every one of your recommendations."

    Taken aback, Lee nodded, speechless, "Good, then you may report directly to me and I'll provide a copy to Congress."

    The President turned to Stanton with a glare, "Someday this war will be over and much bad blood to be forgiven. Let us pray that only death in honorable combat will be held against us, not men left hungry and exposed in a prison camp. We are fighting this war to reunite the country. Those men are no good to America dead."

    Stanton, embarrassed as the implied criticism stated he would form his own report in a week and implement changes. The Secretary of War departed without bringing up any of the other issues he'd planned to discuss. Lincoln sighed, knowing that he'd damaged his relationship to an indispensable Department Head.

    "Well, young Mr. Lee, I believe that Mr. Hay can arrange your passage and expenses to the various prison camps this afternoon as well as obtaining written military authorization to turn over every stone wherever you find it. Is this satisfactory?"

    "Eminently, Mr. President," George Lee replied, "You have exceeded my hopes my trip to Washington."

    "I am pleased that SOMEONE is happy with me, young man," Lincoln grinned, "It is a new feeling, I can assure you."

    "As for you, Colonel, I'm sure you are aware that War may be imminent with Britain. Should such an event occur, may I approach you again for a commission, even if I deliberately limit it to a northern location which may be put at risk by British armed forces?" Lincoln inquired. "Surely, there is no expectation to face fellow Virginians under such a circumstance."

    "I shall....consider it....should that unfortunate series of events occur, sir," Lee finally conceded. "Though I most fervently pray it never comes to that."

    Lincoln nodded, "I heartily agree, Colonel. But, as I stated before, I've been disappointed many times in recent years."
     
    Chapter 14
  • June, 1862

    Shiloh and Corinth, Mississippi


    Humiliated by his previous defeat (largely of his own inactivity), Grant meticulously planned his assault upon Shiloh, one of the crucial rail junctions in the Confederacy. Learning that his old friend Cump (William Tecumseh Sherman) had thrown in with the rebels had been tough to hear though having George Thomas, the meticulous Virginian on this side made up for this.

    Determined never to let BRAXTON BRAGG (of all people) out-General him, Grant threw all of his forces towards seizing Shiloh and Corinth. In truth, he need not both as the city had largely been abandoned by the time the first artillery round fell.

    A rail junction was only so useful if all the regions to which the rail follows have been taken.

    By June, 1862, Grant was already pronouncing the conquest of Northern Mississippi and Alabama (all north of the Tennessee River) and lent his intention to march south and cut the the only remaining railroad running east-west through the Confederacy by seizing the vital junction of Vicksburg (which also was the only major Confederate formation left on the Mississippi River).

    Texas

    John Pope had a secret weapon that the Texans lacked. Over the past few months, the Spencer Carbines (small cavalry versions of the Spencer rifles). Finding muzzle loading muskets useless for his cavalry, Pope demanded only these new carbines. Oddly, the Union Cavalry still tended to use swords as if this was the 18th century. Even the Confederate Cavalry had given up swords and they held themselves to be modern knights. They used pistols almost exclusively which often gave them the advantage over sword-wielding Union Cavalry.

    As his force was largely a cavalry force, Pope was able to demand the Carbines. This would prove vital as Pope smashed the Confederate Army of Texas in one large cavalry battle outside of Houston. Pope was able to reach Galveston Bay, where a Union blockading force besieging Galveston Island was apparently shocked to see him.

    After then-Colonel Robert Lee had prevented the Union arsenal from falling into their hands, the Texans largely shrugged, deeming it unlikely they'd ever need the arms.

    Because Texas lacked adequate artillery, they were unable to fortify most of their inland cities, a fact that Pope intended to remedy.

    Hampton Roads

    The Confederate Navy had not had a good war. However, they felt their fortunes improving when the Ironclad Ram "Virginia" left her harbor outside of Richmond to seek out the wooden Union ships blockading the Capital. What her Captain DID NOT know was that the Union's first two Monitors had been built, the Monitor and Passaic.

    For hours, the small Rebel fleet (the Virginia and three conventional ships) were pummeled by the twelve ship Union fleet. The three ironclads effectively doing little but put dents in one another's armor. Finally, the Virginia saw the wounded wooden sail ship Cumberland foundering and lunged forward, thrusting her anachronistic "Ram" into the Cumberland's hull. Unfortunately for the Virginia, the two vessels became stuck for nearly an hour as the Cumberland burned and settled lower and lower, threatening to take the Virginia with her. Finally, the Virginia's engines managed to back away but, as the pilots feared, the ship had waited too long to retreat past the local sandbar. The Virginia was trapped all alone (the other three Confederate ships had been sunk or taken) against the weight of the entire fleet. Running low on powder, the rebel ironclad tried to flee out to sea but her slow speed made it impossible to escape. Eventually, several hits managed to knock off enough iron plates to pepper the inside of the ship. Worse, the rudder was damaged in a collision with the Passaic, leaving the ship foundering onto a bar.

    A boarding part was put aboard and foiled the Confederate attempt to scuttle the ship.

    Virginia was taken. There was nothing left to halt the Union invasion of the Virginia Peninsula.

    Northern Virginia


    General Hooker envisioned a three-pronged attack. First, his main force (led by him, would lunch an amphibious attack from the Virginia Peninsula. Second, Sedgwick would cut off and besiege the northern bastion of Fredericksburg. Third, in a surprise attack, Rosecrans would emerge from the Shenandoah and cross the Rapidan, Anna and James Rivers, threatening to cut off Richmond from the West.

    This three-pronged assault largely went as planned, though much of this was due to Beauregard's decision to operate on the defensive. He pulled his forces from Fredericksburg and opted not to defend the sprawling Virginia Peninsula. He chose to shorten his lines and defend a 30 mile, well-entrenched defensive line surrounding Richmond to the vital rail junction of Petersburg, both heavily defended.

    His greater fear was the flanking movement by Rosecrans to the west. Here, he could be completely cut off and was forced to dispatch Longstreet with 20,000 men to sweep Rosecrans from south of the James.

    This Longstreet did brilliantly but two months of maneuver still handed over most of Northern Virginia north of the James leaving only a small salient at Richmond. The city was also completely cut off by sea with the mouth of the James in Federal control. A narrow route of supply, communication....and escape got narrower every day.

    By July, the industrial city of Richmond could barely get food, much less raw materials. The Tredegar Iron Works effectively shut down.

    Washington DC

    Lincoln, seeing he could claim a number of victories, would formally issue the Emancipation Proclamation in July of 1862. He not only hoped to utilize black resources to prosecute the war with the Confederacy but also make this a moral issue with the British public and prevent further conflict with Her Majesty's government.

    He would only get half of his wishes.
     
    Chapter 15
  • July, 1862

    London


    Both Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell were highly ambivalent toward the war with America. Neither thought that Britain would gain much by it. However, the war hysteria which THEY had helped create in a bid for popularity was sweeping the nation. Outrages against British trading vessels were an assault on the Flag itself!

    That didn't even cover the fiendish American plot to offer arms to Ireland to rebel and the American-planned assassinations of Lord Lyons and the Scottish-Canadian politician John Mac Donald. Of course, neither man truly believed any of these were truly perpetuated by Lincoln's government. And there were rightful legalities regarding ships seized by blockade. Even here, Lincoln quietly offered to release the British trading vessels (he already had released the crews).

    But once the ball was rolling downhill, momentum only increased its speed, not slowed it.

    To be truth, the government was pleased to have a distraction from the foreign policy fiasco that has been the past year. The French openly backslapped Palmerston and Russel by using the joint occupation of Veracruz as only the first step to openly conquer Mexico.

    The Czar had effectively undone all the work accomplished by the Crimean War by rearming the Crimea. He did so in violation of every treaty and barely bothered to mention it to the rest of Europe. Given the fractured political conflict of the Continent, another coalition would prove impossible and Britain dared not go it alone. Thus Alexander II got away with diplomatic murder.

    Now, word arrived that Prussia had crossed the border of the "Danish" German territories of Schleswig-Holstein intending to "liberate" the German peoples there. However, Prussia had managed to alienate virtually of of her allies with this move. Now, Austria was reportedly arming for war against Prussia. Britain had acted as a "Guaranteer of the Status Quo" at the last treaty. Now, no one bothered to even consult Britain.

    It was a massive humiliation that Britain was taking even harder by the fact that NO ONE CARED WHAT BRITAIN THOUGHT ABOUT ANYTHING!

    At least with the Americans, Britain may accomplish something. While America seemed to have little ambition in world affairs, the industrial, economic and demographic profile of the country meant that it may someday threaten Britain's global Empire.

    When the American Civil War commenced, there had been accusations that Britain secretly desired for the nation to be split asunder. In truth, most of Britain didn't care. But the speed in which America had harnessed her arsenal astonished even the most hawkish members of the Ministry. For the first time, Britain REALLY became concerned with America becoming a threat.

    Of course, neither politician doubted the potential consequences of their actions. Should the Union prevail in conquering the South and liberating the slaves, thus eliminating the primary structural issue between North and South, the united nation may seek revenge against Britain. For the past fifty years, America had barely glanced upwards towards Canada and the Maritimes, as that nation was content with her inexorable march west to the Pacific.

    With Britain interjecting herself into American affairs, this would likely focus American vengeance directly upon British North America, a region which even the Army states is defenseless in the long term from her much larger southern neighbor. It may take a year or a decade or a full generation but eventually America would push into Canada and Britain could only hope that they had a sympathetic ally in the Confederacy to balance the scales.

    Of course, there was the minor problem that Britain had not, in any manner, allied with the Confederacy. War with the Union did not mean allying with one of the last slaving nations would be popular among the public. Thus, Britain only "recognized" the Confederacy but did not make an official alliance with the odious slavers. There would be no further restrictions upon sales of arms nor would the Union Embargo be entertained.

    Both men wearily eyed the future and wondered if they'd made a terrible, terrible mistake.

    Puebla, Mexico

    On the fifth of May, 1862, General Zaragoza inflicted a humiliating defeat upon the French Legion. However, French reinforcements (some French, some hirelings from Europe) would launch another attack and seize Puebla. In this battle, Pontifiro Diaz was killed and Zaragoza wounded and carried north.

    The path to Mexico City was open. President Juarez dispatched a desperate letter to America pleading for Lincoln's help.

    Paris

    Napoleon III regretted his actions of only a month prior. Trying to ensure that Britain did not intervene in Mexico, he determined to declare war upon America as a "show of solidarity" on the flimsy pretext of some stopped French ships and American sails of guns to Mexico. He never really expected to have to fight America in any capacity beyond seizing a few dozen American merchant ships.

    But now, he was stuck in an awkward position of discovering that his few thousand French troops in the Papal States had surrendered to Italian patriots invading without their King's nominal approval.

    Catholics had returned Napoleon III to his throne. He could not abandon the Pope despite the fact that he was in agreement that Italy SHOULD control the Papal States politically and Rome SHOULD be the capital of Italy. France and Italy had too many common interests not to come to terms. But now the death of a few dozen French troops at Italian hands.....it put him in a tight spot.

    Besides, the Emperor also had the little problem of Germany going to war upon itself by the look of things.

    Trying to figure out who to approach for an alliance, Napoleon III reached out one more time to his country's age-old enemy, Austria. By the mid-19th century, Prussia (a former longtime French ally) was looking increasingly like a threat while French relations with Austria were softening. They'd stood together in the Crimean....but against each other in Italy.

    If Napoleon's Generals were correct in their assessment, then Austria may need an ally more than they realize and it may be time to make amends after the conflict in the War of Italian Unification (or whatever the Italians were calling it).
     
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    Chapter 16
  • July, 1862

    Schleswig-Holstein


    Largely ignoring the protests of even the German Confederation, Bismarck order the Prussian troops crossed into Schleswig-Holstein. Von Moltke and Von Roon were brilliant and the Prussian General Staff was vastly superior to any other organization of its kind on earth.

    Politically, his action wasn't popular. He truly doubted that any of the petty German allies of the North were planning on abandoning the Confederation. They could not possibly believe he would ALLOW this to happen. Within a fortnight, he had pushed the Danes out of the German Duchies and declared them a new province for King Wilhelm.

    It was also another step in the formation of a true German Empire.

    But Bismarck was taken aback by the demand of the German Confederation....and Austria.... that the House of Augustenburg assume the throne and Prussia pull out of Schleswig-Holstein. Bismarck laughed until Austria and her allies, having spent months mobilizing in what he was sure was a bluff, crossed the border into Silesia.

    Paris

    Napoleon III had spent years attempting to entice his age-old enemy Austria into an alliance. Prussia may be an aspiring power but could hardly expect to fight off Austria AND France. With the formation of a united Italy, there seemed to be little to no chance that Austria would attempt to follow the well-worn path through southern Europe to attack France soon. Instead, France's greatest threat appeared to be from Prussia.

    The Emperor blamed the idiots who redrew the map of Europe after Napoleon I's deposition. They'd effectively HANDED half of Germany to the House of Hohenzollern, despite having done little over the years to deserve such a bounty.

    Now all of Europe was regretting this as, at last, there was a competent regime in Prussia.

    As it so happened, the French buildup of forces was also underway, the nominal target was Italy. The French public was outraged at the seizure of the rump Papal State, guaranteed by France. In truth, Napoleon didn't give a damn about the Papal States. He'd be happy to see it folded into Italy so that country could take its rightful role of as a bulwark against France's enemies.

    French diplomats worked overtime attempting to get the Papacy, Italy and Austria to see reason. That is, reason according to French interests.

    Moscow

    Alexander II had suffered the humiliation of defeat at the hands of a Continental Coalition. Seeing Europe tear itself apart with such ease made the Czar's heart beat in pleasure.

    In seven years, he went from defeat to victory regaining virtually all objectives of the late war without the slightest response from any quarter of Europe. He'd dismembered the Kingdom of Poland and made it a mere province of Russia and the total response was muttered disapproval.

    Now, the nation's weaknesses of the Crimean Campaign were being addressed. Railroads were snaking out to the corners of Russia (logistics had been a terrible problem in the Crimea). Modern warships had been purchased and locally built, one theoretically strong enough to withstand at least ONE foreign power.

    The nation's government and army were being modernized as best the Czar could expect. The Serfs had been freed in Russia and Poland. Land was being redistributed. Settlement into Siberia continued apace.

    For the moment, the Czar was pleased. But he could not shake the feeling that he was missing a potential new enemy. The Habsburgs had been enemies for centuries but Alexander II was certain that the festering rot of that dying Empire was not a threat to him, even with Russian ambitions in the Balkans. Austria was now transfixed with her rivalry with Prussia and her defeat two years prior to Italy and France.

    He'd never considered Germany to be a real threat to Russia. Not even Frederick II could claim to be that despite his battlefield victories. But....what if the House of Hohenzollern DID somehow unite Germany?

    The economic progress of the German Confederation was stunning over the past decades. Could Germany truly become a rival to Russia?

    It seemed almost preposterous. But Alexander would watch. Closely.
     
    Chapter 17
  • July, 1862

    Washington DC


    The longer that Lincoln reviewed the situation, the more he realized that an opportunity had been lost to crush the Confederates. Outnumbered nearly two to one, Beauregard had retreated from the indefensible Virginia Peninsula and eventually was forced to abandon Fredericksburg. Now, Richmond was besieged on three sides and only a narrow slip of land and and water kept Richmond and Petersburg from being surrounded.

    It WOULD have been 100% surrounded if Rosecrans, tasked with flanking the exposed Confederate left, had done his damned job and made his way south of the James as expected. Instead, a few light engagements distracted and potentially intimidated him.

    With the given of hindsight, it may be said that Rosecrans' command was too small and resources could have been pulled from the Virginia Peninsula and Fredericksburg lines. But it hadn't and consultation with several of his military advisors confirmed in his mind that Rosecrans had been too timid.

    Hooker was already starting to recognize this and was adjusting his strategy away from the trenches around Petersburg and Richmond and towards marching west into the exposed Virginia Tidewater. Beauregard would have to abandon Richmond to pursue or remain trapped and possibly idle as Union troops marched south.

    Hooker's orders were clear: ACT before the British weigh in.

    Arlington

    Though called one of the larger slaveholders in Virginia, Robert E. Lee was in fact anything but. While over two hundred slaves worked his plantation, the truth was that these were inherited by his WIFE from her late father. As executer of his late father-in-law's will (died in 1857), Lee was obligated to free ALL of George Washington Custis' slaves within 5 years of Custis' death. Had the massive estate been in good financial standing, Lee likely would have freed the slaves earlier. However, Arlington was DEEPLY in debt and Lee needed the full five years to get his wife out from under her father's mismanagement.

    Lee determined that he would free the slaves on the exact five year anniversary of Custis' death in October. However, the Emancipation Proclamation made this untenable and Lee opted to free the Arlington slaves a few months early. He also determined to free the four slaves he owned personally. Wishing the Negroes the best, he offered them paid labor to remain until harvest. Some opted to do so, other not.

    There was little Lee could do about the matter. But at least he'd settled the debts. Now he had three plantations (Arlington and two others being managed by his son still in Confederate territory) and a dwindling labor force. Lee was no friend of slavery but did not like forced emancipation.

    But at least the violence no doubt to come in the South would not touch Arlington.

    In the meantime, Lee's eldest son had called upon his father's engineering skill to build better prisoner of war camps and Lee had been happy to make several suggestions. A small-scale hospital had remained on Arlington grounds. There was plenty of room for it as most of the fields were already understaffed. Lee would determine to make a switch from grain and tobacco to horse-breeding.

    Lee had already forgotten about Lincoln's offer of a Major Generalship. He could not believe that there was anything which could bring him back into uniform, if even he DIDN'T have to serve against the South (not that there was much of Virginia to serve against anymore).

    Boston

    The people of Boston would look out across the Harbor that very morning and see the first of dozens of British ships blockading the Port.

    New York

    The fleet which cut off the harbor of New York was even more impressive.

    The British had finally arrived.
     
    Chapter 18
  • August, 1862

    Washington DC


    Though obviously deeply concerned about the fleets apparently now blockading New York and Boston, the US Congress did not cease functioning. For over a year, the Western Counties of Virginia and Eastern Counties of Tennessee had agitated for independence as separate states. With virtually all of Tennessee under control, this latter seemed a pointless exercise but, by 1862, no one in Congress was inclined NOT to put the screws to a southern state.

    Thus, the states of Kanawha (West Virginia) and Nickajack (Eastern Tennessee) were welcomed to the Union.

    Richmond

    Having identified the error in his previous strategy, a greater portion of the Union Army was shifted west under the far more aggressive General Sheridan. Hooker had complete faith in the man and ordered Sheridan's 40,000 to march west, cross the James as soon as possible and then sweep around east to cut off the rail junctions out of Richmond and Petersburg.

    His own resources strained to the breaking point, Beauregard could only dispatch 25,000 of his own 65,000 troops under General Longstreet to challenge Sheridan. Even this left Richmond and Petersburg's expansive lines dangerously exposed. Effectively, the trenches between the two cities (even after withdrawing as deeply as he dared) spanned nearly 40 miles. There were just too much territory to defend. Hooker waited until his spies, scouts and Balloon Corp verified that Longstreet had departed to challenge Sheridan and struck at perceived weakspots in the Confederate trenches.

    Sappers had already been digging under several lengths of trench and set bombs, blasting huge holes in the Petersburg lines. Massive artillery bombardments pummeled key entrance points near Richmond. Hooker ordered a focused 40,000 men forward to the most promising targets.

    Having defended in depth, the Confederates were ready. Even when pushed back, the rebels had another set of lines on which to fall back. But they could not be everywhere at once. A full breakthrough into the city seemed imminent.

    The James

    The Richmond and Danville RR snaked westwards from Richmond. This was the first target of General Sheridan. His cavalry easily cut the line in a half dozen places. This left only the southern running Norfolk and Petersburg line that ran from Richmond to the key rail junction of Petersburg and then split into several southwestern, southern and southeastern lines. Petersburg was arguably the most important rail junction in the south and its loss would be felt almost as dearly as Richmond.

    Longstreet barely caught Sheridan before he could reach the outskirts of Petersburg. There were no major trenches in this direction and a pitched battle of maneuver was the only option. Hoping to lure Sheridan into attacking him on high ground, Longstreet was disappointed to find Sheridan was disinclined to oblige. Showing a shocking lack of concern about exposing his army's supply/communication lines, Longstreet belatedly realized that Sheridan was prepared to "live off the land" and didn't mind being cut off.

    Instead of attacking Petersburg or Longstreet's force, Sheridan merely marched further and further south until he reached the point that the rail lines south of Petersburg were undefended by large groups of men.

    Sheridan cut the Southside RR (SW), the Weldon (S) and finally Petersburg RR (SE), casually severing Petersburg and Richmond from the rest of the south. Longstreet followed aggressively but Sheridan almost....ignored him. Longstreet realized that Sheridan had no intention of facing him on anything but the Union man's terms. If Longstreet DIDN'T attack Sheridan, then the Union forces could simply keep wheeling southeast along the Confederate coast or turn north and rejoin the main Union Army besieging Petersburg and Richmond.

    Finally, Longstreet caught up and his skirmishers managed to grab the tail of Sheridan's army. Picking a nice spot of high ground, the Union General awaited Longstreet's pleasure. Attacking uphill against a larger army was seldom a good idea but Longstreet had no choice. Neither army had carried heavy guns with them and the bloody affair would be mainly an infantry and light artillery engagement. The results could be expected. The forward charge was beaten back with heavy casualties. But Longstreet's greater hope was that Wade Hampton's Cavalry would be able to strike at Sheridan's supply train.

    Sheridan fully expected this and left his own cavalry to defend the vital supplies. It was here that Hampton discovered that 10 of the cavalry troops had been armed with the new Spencer repeating rifle (carbine version). It was plainly superior to the Confederate counterpart and the already outnumbered Confederates were brushed off. Hampton was shot out of his saddle and bled out in the Virginia clay.

    Longstreet had hoped to run Sheridan's supplies dry. Instead, Longstreet's limited supplies ran out first and he was forced to retreat west. To his shock, Sheridan did not turn north to rejoin the main Union Army and tighten the grip around Richmond. Instead, he marched south further into the Tidewater of Virginia.

    Vicksburg

    The crowning achievement of Grant's Western Campaign would be the capture of Vicksburg. Having driven Bragg and his key subordinates William Sherman and Thomas Jackson south from Corinth, the Confederate Army of the Cumberland was outnumbered 2 to 1 by an aggressive Union commander.

    Bragg fall back to central Mississippi. After a desultory attempt to protect the Capital of Jackson (which was not defensible), Bragg retreated southeast. However, he made sure to place Sherman and Jackson in command of the 20,000 men left to defend Vicksburg.

    On the surface, this seemed an odd choice. Why put your two most active and energetic Generals in a position to basically resist a siege. The primary reason was Bragg's jealousy and fear that one of these men would replace him. Thus, he ordered them into what he knew was a trap, a vice-like Union siege. The remainder of his 45,000 man army remained with Bragg in eastern Mississippi.

    Deeming Bragg not much of a threat and consolidating full control over the Mississippi River by seizing Vicksburg, Grant threw most of his resources at throttling the city.
     
    Chapter 19
  • August, 1862

    Washington DC


    Upon the arrival of a British fleet outside of New York and Boston, Lincoln had waited for the declaration of war....and then waited some more. Finally, he demanded to know from the Admiralty and Secretary of the Navy Welles what the hell the British intended. Small, unarmed American ships approached the respective fleets under the white flag and asked that very question. The response was....vague, according to the sailors. If anything, the respective British Admirals were as confused as to their orders as the Americans.

    The Boston squadron commander stated that his orders were to blockade the Port.....nothing more. He would not assault the city nor would he seize any American ships unless they tried to run the blockade.

    The New York commander seemed flustered as to why their orders did not carry a declaration of war. Of course, this was the same Admiral who took part in the Veracruz expedition and there was certainly no declaration of war in that situation either. The American Captain who met with this fellow stated he seemed somewhat....embarrassed by the situation. This fellow stated, though, that he would also fire on any ship attempting to break the blockade. Lincoln wisely ordered all ships in those ports to lay anchor and wait.

    The President hoped that peace may yet be had with Britain. The worst offenses in the British mind related to seizing a few British trading vessels breaking a blockade (ironically given the situation) and the assassination of Lord Lyons. Lincoln doubted anyone in Britain actually believed the death of the British Ambassador, whom Lincoln agreed had been striving to keep the peace between the two countries, was part of a deliberate murder on the part of the government.

    The British reaction of expelling the American Ambassador had been born of pride and not any actual plan to accomplish anything. The fact that no declaration of war had been delivered nor had any actual invasion of America from Canada taken placed boded well for a possible peaceful settlement. Thus, Lincoln set his hopes on a diplomatic settlement. He ordered another set of representatives to Britain with expressions of friendship. He even arranged for the famous Booth brothers to sail to Britain to put on a popular American play for the benefit of the British elites.

    Until Britain's guns fired in earnest, Lincoln was willing to halt trade for a few months and let tempers cool. Not for the first time, he regretted the loss of Prince Albert, whose level-headness likely would have been mutually beneficial in this crisis.

    More importantly, the somewhat tepid British reaction allowed for the Union to pursue a victorious end to the war. If Britain wanted to spend a few months figuring out how they felt about matters, that was fine with Lincoln. Even if Britain entered the war in earnest, it was obvious that most of the Union's resources would remain pointed south. If America could knock the Confederacy out of the war before Britain could garner their forces, Lincoln was certain Her Majesty could do no more than irritate America on the High Seas. With a million men at arms at any point compared to perhaps 30,000 for Britain across a thousand mile border, Lincoln was certain America was a greater threat in a land war.

    But he wanted the Confederacy dealt with....and soon. His orders to Hooker and Grant were simple: attack. If you are not attacking, you better damned well be preparing to attack....and soon.

    Grant did not concern Lincoln. That man marched forward in his sleep. He may not be a brilliant tactician as he showed in the poor performance at the first battle of Corinth but he made up for it with dogged tenacity and energy. When Grant managed to take Shiloh and Corinth, some members of the General staff were already talking about another campaign in 1863.

    Grant, on the other hand, spent a week reorganizing and resupplying and march south. Within a month, he had taken the Mississippi Capital of Jackson and besieged Vicksburg. The victories were not only important militarily but politically as it buoyed the Republicans during the mid-term elections and presented Britain and France with clear evidence that the Confederacy was on its last legs. The Emancipation Proclamation was another step in producing middle-class resistance in Europe to the colonial powers' position.

    As it was, despite her declaration of War (which even Britain hadn't "officially" done), France had yet to actually act against America. Like virtually everyone else on the planet, Lincoln was convinced that Napoleon III only acted to keep Britain off its back in Mexico. The American President vowed that once his country was reunited and peace could be made with Britain, that France's little Latin expedition would come to a swift end.

    He just needed Hooker to take Richmond and Grant to keep doing what he was doing.

    Meridian, Mississippi

    Braxton Bragg had managed to eliminate his two greatest challengers for power in the West by forcing Sherman and Jackson to assume control over Vicksburg. Without relief, the city was doomed. By fall of 1862, Bragg was beginning to realize that the war was a loss. Tennessee had fallen as had half of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Half of Virginia had seceded (Ironically) from their state and was apparently now a new state (Bragg had no idea Yankees were such secessionists). Most of eastern Virginia was now under Federal control and the Capital of Richmond was in dire straights. Meanwhile, states like North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama refused to send reinforcements to key arenas due to their "States' Rights".

    Some Confederate officers had spoken of Britain and France as being their saviors but Bragg doubted this. He knew enough that France only wanted cover for their invasion of Mexico and Britain lacked an army to fight a million blue-bellies under arms. Short of sending their fleet to ravage America's coastline and sweep the American merchant fleet from the seas.....he was not convinced Britain would do anything of note.

    The Confederacy's best hope lay in an economic collapse in the Union, which sapped their will to fight. Certainly fighting Confederates had never sapped the Union will to fight.

    But Bragg had his duty and, having lost Jackson, Mississippi, he had been commanded to "DO SOMETHING" by his chief sponsor, Jeff Davis. Well, Bragg had husbanded his resources and, with Grant's forces stretched across the length of Mississippi, stood an even chance of defeating the Union outside the city of Meridian, east of Jackson.

    Bragg, with unusual alacrity, surged his 40,000 soldiers west against the extended Union Army. John Bell Hood, the aggressive Texan, led his assault east of Meridian with I Corps. Bragg had found himself short of experienced Corp commanders after he ordered Jackson and Sherman to Vicksburg and managed to get the languid Joe Johnston and William Hardee transferred east. Both had tried to get Bragg removed from command and Bragg never forgot it. Leonidas Polk, another favorite of Jefferson, was now plying his trade in the East after failing to give due deference to his commander.

    Thus, the aggressive Hood led the charge, smashing headlong into the Union forces approaching Meridian. The initial Union forces were repulsed but quickly reformed. On relatively flat ground, Bragg launched a series of quick strikes, some of which astounded his own subordinates with their daring and speed. The Union force seemed to fade and threaten to break but instead launched a flanking maneuver along his southern lines, forcing him to pull back a few miles. Not willing to let Grant beat him, Bragg launched an almost unheard (for Bragg) night march which again turned the tide of battle. But a stubborn holding action by a decimated Union Corps kept a potential route into a retreat.

    After four days of fighting, the end result was 7000 Union casualties, 6000 Confederate killed and wounded and 1500 Confederate captured.

    The Union could accept these losses. Bragg could not. Worse, several thousand Confederate regulars (and most of the militia) deserted after the battle for lack of food and pay while Bragg's munitions fell to dangerously low levels.

    And to top it off, Bragg learned he hadn't even been facing Grant himself. It was George Thomas. Well, that made Bragg feel a little better. At least he drew with a Southerner than with a Yankee.

    The Confederate attempt to regain middle Mississippi had failed and Grant was busily tightening the stranglehold on Vicksburg.

    Southeastern Prussia

    The Austrian attack into Prussia was something of an ill-considered, ham-fisted affair. Lacking a "General Staff" in the Prussian Model, the Austrians immediately suffered from a lack of planning and logistics. Entire Corps ran out of ammunition, the Commissaries were unsure of how to obtain supplies and the assorted Generals were vague as to what the Emperor wanted them to do.

    Thus, the element of surprise possessed by the Austrians (and the months they had to prepare) was largely wasted as the attack bogged down in confusion. Then the Prussian Army struck back. The breech-loading Needle Guns allowed a soldier to shoot five times before reloading, something that could be done laying down. Most of the Austrian infantry still had to stand to muzzle-load their muskets standing up. Prussian artillery also proved superior.

    In short order, the Prussians managed to turn the tide as the nation's rapid response system and well-thought-out strategy paid off. Less than a month after crossing the border, the Austrian armies were already in full retreat to the protection of mountain passes.

    Having whipped the Austrians as handily as Frederick the Great ever did, the King of Prussia, his Foreign Minister Bismarck and the brilliant tactician and organizers Von Roon and Von Moltke were dusting off a plan of invading Austria (the land was more dangerous than the Austrian Army).

    Only a shocking event saved what was likely the latest in a long series of Austrian humiliations over the past century.

    Western Prussia

    Napoleon III had looked on in amusement as Austria invaded Prussia. He was quite certain how THAT was going to end. The Prussian Army had several technological advances over the Austrians though their organization was Prussia's TRUE talent. The Emperor had sought Austria's alliance over the past year but hard feelings over the War of Italian Unification along with centuries of mutual antagonism between France and Austria prevented any meaningful dialogue on the part of Vienna.

    The French Emperor suspected that his Habsburg counterpart was now willing to talk. Austria was, in his mind, no longer a threat to France. France had secured most of her borders with the exception of the northeastern frontier. Unfortunately, this was where the rising power of Europe was centered. Prussia had long been a French ally against Austria in Germany but now it was obvious that it was Austria that needed to be propped up as a counterbalance to the Prussian-led Northern Confederation.

    Austria stupidly attacked Prussia believing that the Prussian invasion of Denmark would occupy most of her resources. This was obviously untrue as the tide turned quickly. If Napoleon III did not act quickly, the Habsburgs would be evicted from any influence in Germany.

    Thus, with his large standing army on alert due to the Mexican intervention (only about 30,000 troops, many of them hirelings, had been sent to North America), the declaration of War upon the United States and the Italian invasion of the Papal States, it was not hard to shift 150,000 soldiers quietly to the northeaster border and cross into Rhinish Prussia with barely a declaration of war in order to "Support the Claims of the House of Augustenburg to Schleswig and Holstein".

    Of course, French people can make miscalculations too. Among Napoleon's errors was his invasion of Germany threw many of the small states of the Northern Confederation from their position of outraged neutrality at Bismarck's actions in claiming Schleswig and Holstein as his personal provinces to reasserting their allegiance. This brought about 100,000 more soldiers back into the Prussian hand as well as opening up several major railroads to King Wilhelm's use.

    The French assault would not prove nearly as devastating as Napoleon III had assumed.

    He also failed to take into account that OTHERS make take advantage of the distraction.

    Venetia

    After the unauthorized "Patriotic" invasion of the rump Papal State by idealistic young Italians (led by Garibaldi) seized Rome and her environs for Italy, the bulk of Italy prepared for war. The political classes knew France wanted an alliance with Italy but also Napoleon III was obliged to support the Papacy.

    It seemed obvious that eventually Italy and France would come to blows. Thus, when France invaded Germany instead of Italy, Garibaldi and his ever-Patriotic volunteers made the logical decision to......invade Austria.

    This may have made little sense to some but Austria was always going to be a long term adversary to Italy in a way that France never was. Italy was already looking to the Balkans for influence and, more importantly, the largely Italian-speaking population not yet under King Victor Emmanuel's reign was the Habsburg possession of Venitia to the northeast of Italy.

    In the War of Italian Unification, Garibaldi had wanted, with French help, to invade this region and add it to Italy but Victor and the French both forbade this.

    But with Austria under attack by Prussia, Garibaldi had marched tens of thousands of volunteers (again without the "official" support of the King) to Venetia to liberate his Italian brethren. Garibaldi had already crossed the border when he learned that the French had invaded Prussia.

    As it so happened, King Victor had hastily sent diplomats to Berlin to agree to a formal alliance...before it was too late.
     
    Chapter 20
  • August, 1862

    Southern Virginia


    Just as Longstreet had come to expect, Sheridan had no intention of playing his game. What Longstreet was slow to realize was that Sheridan was not RETREATING South against his smaller force.....the Union General was GOING south and Longstreet was just following.

    Longstreet had two options....hunt Sheridan down and thus leave Beauregard even MORE outnumbered in the shrinking defenses of Richmond and Petersburg....

    Or let Sheridan advance south through southern Virginia and potentially North Carolina.

    Now 60 miles south of Petersburg, Longstreet made his decision and followed closely upon Sheridan's heels.

    Northern Virginia

    "Where the HELL is Longstreet?" Beauregard grumbled. "He should have been back by now! Or at least reported in!"

    But Beauregard knew that Longstreet would not have wandered about for no reason. If he was hunting Sheridan, it was probably for the right reason.

    However, that didn't help Beauregard. Hooker was plainly preparing another attack, this time upon Richmond from THREE directions. Beauregard did not believe he had the manpower to hold such a long series of trenches.

    Richmond

    Hooker, prodded by the President, would dispatch his best Generals to strike the weak-points of the Confederate lines. Between hundreds of cannon and naval-based artillery, the Confederate trenches were bombarded. Sappers had been busily mining under key Confederate positions representing an oval nearly 30 miles in length surrounding the cities of Richmond and Petersburg.

    The Union commander would allow his subordinates to handle this.

    Instead, Hooker himself would succeed where Rosecrans failed in the spring and Sheridan would attempt with more success: he would cross the James to the west and strike at the Confederate line of supply, communication and retreat.

    With confidence brimming from knowledge he had the numerical advantage (Beauregard could surely not dispatch enough men from the trenches to stop him, not without leave his defenses too weak to be held), Hooker marched west and crossed the James with only minor harassment from Confederate Cavalry and Virginia Militia. Always with a eye on his back for fear of Longstreet's sudden return (Hooker HAD ordered Sheridan south, thus Longstreet MIGHT abandon his quarry to return to Petersburg).

    But no such event occurred and Hooker was able to slice through the ragged Confederate formations on the open ground before approaching the rail junction near Petersburg's western approaches.

    Richmond and Petersburg was ALMOST cut off.

    Beauregard knew that his time was up. He requested an immediate audience with President Davis....while there was still time.
     
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