Jubal Early's Raid

During the grinding stalemate outside of Petersburg in 1864, a daring plan was hatched by General Lee to divert Union reinforcements and stir panic in the north. Jubal Early was dispatched with 15,000 men, to march through the Shenandoah valley and threaten the virtually undefended Washington DC. IOTL, he was delayed due to engagements, particularly the Battle of Monocacy, and when he arrived at Fort Stevens, on the northwest corner of DC, it had already been reinforced and fortified. However, he had caused a great scare and even went through many of the suburbs.

In this timeline, the POD is slightly prior to the Battle of Monocacy. Instead of staying his ground against a numerically superior force, General Wallace retreats north, leaving the path open for Early to continue his march, seize Fort Stevens, and rapidly advance through the near-undefended city, looting the supplies, food, and valuables, raising Confederate flags over the various buildings, freeing Confederate POW's held around the city, and destroying useful communication centers and rail heads. By this point, the politicians, Lincoln especially, would long have left Washington via steamboat down the Potomac, and soon, a large force of Union soldiers would doubtlessly swat the small Confederate army away from the city. The only two truly significant damages would be complete panic across the Union, and the dispatch of a large portion of Grant's troops in the Army of the Potomac, far larger than was sent IOTL, perhaps nearing 40,000.

This would significantly weaken the forces he would be able to face Lee with, and free Lee up to send a large number of men to reinforce Johnston, against whom Sherman was already having severe trouble. This would likely tip Sherman's campaign in the favor of the Confederate force, at least, as long as Sherman's supply lines remained outstretched and Johnston remained in a good position. This would likely lead to one of two actions, the first being Sherman attempting a final attack, which would almost certainly fail, and the second being that Sherman scraps the campaign and retreats into Tennessee. It's difficult to choose, as he was very aggressive, but also an intelligent commander, so whichever trait overpowers the other would be a coin toss. Seeing as how either scenario would almost certainly lead to his retreat into Tennessee, whether after a botched attack or not, and seeing as how this scenario is already enough of a Confederate wank, I'll say that he elects to scrap the campaign and retreat northward without a final attack.

Along with the Battle of the Crater, the occurrence or result of which would not change much in this scenario, as the battle happened very briefly after Early's attack on Washington, and the sacking of Washington, the Union would almost certainly have an overwhelming desire to capitulate, and Grant, who proved multiple times IOTL, was willing to wage 'hail mary' battles for the chance of a victory to propel the nations desire to continue the war, would likely launch a massive offensive along either the entire line or a large portion of it. Considering that his force would be significantly smaller due to a large portion being sent north to deal with Early, his near total lack of success thus far with assaulting Confederate entrenchments on the eastern front, and the amazing position of Lee's forces, such a battle would almost certainly be doomed to total failure, and an extremely costly failure at that. It would likely be something resembling Cold Harbor had Meade and Grant continued throwing men at the Confederates for days longer.

With every major campaign being a total loss for the Union, tens of thousands laying dead, Washington having been sacked, and the already low popularity of the war, it is certain than an anti-war Democrat would be elected, likely McClellan, who would move to end the war at once. With the Union being in such a poor spot, and desiring to end the war at once, terms would certainly favor the Confederacy, likely including the cession of the Indian territory, Arizona territory, and New Mexico territory. While it's possible that the terms would involve something like the cession of West Virginia or even a slave-holding border state, these would be far more unlikely to pass through, even considering the situation.

2000px-Historical_blank_US_map_1861.svg.png

Rough map portrayal, could vary much more widely depending on exact circumstances.
 
Lee couldn't physically transfer enough troops to Georgia to Johnston any real good. And after the misuse of Longstreet's force by Bragg in 1863, it would be pulling teeth to get him to agree to anything similar again.
 
McClellan can't call off the war until March 1865.

And I wouldn't put it past Lincoln to get the lame-duck Congress to vote funds to continue the war until Dec 1865 (when the new Congress would meet) so that Mac could continue the war at least until then if so inclined. Could the CSA last that long?
 
McClellan can't call off the war until March 1865.

And I wouldn't put it past Lincoln to get the lame-duck Congress to vote funds to continue the war until Dec 1865 (when the new Congress would meet) so that Mac could continue the war at least until then if so inclined. Could the CSA last that long?
There would certainly be massive draft/race riots across the entire Union due to how extremely poor the war was going. I mean, there already were quite a few IOTL, without DC having been sacked and a few more disastrous battles having occurred.
 
There would certainly be massive draft/race riots across the entire Union due to how extremely poor the war was going. I mean, there already were quite a few IOTL, without DC having been sacked and a few more disastrous battles having occurred.

But would it still be going disastrously by March '65?

The lame-duck period lasts four months, which is long enough for things to turn round. If March or April sees Sherman marching to the sea, then Mac isn't likely to call of the war at that point.
 
But would it still be going disastrously by March '65?

The lame-duck period lasts four months, which is long enough for things to turn round. If March or April sees Sherman marching to the sea, then Mac isn't likely to call of the war at that point.
Honestly, in this scenario, yeah, I would see the war going that poorly into 1865. The Union was already incredibly strained in 1864 IOTL, with the dollar quickly losing value, massive riots across the major cities, heavy desertion, rebel sabotuers blowing up hotels and robbing banks as far north as Vermont, and a growing(if small) organized movement for midwestern Independence. All of these horrific failed battles and humiliating events would only make these existing issues many, many times worse, particularly the riots and desertion. A few more months of bloody attrition during the lame duck period, and Mac would no doubt call for immediate peace terms upon taking office.
 
A few more months of bloody attrition during the lame duck period, and Mac would no doubt call for immediate peace terms upon taking office.

What sort of terms are you envisaging? The Union controls WV and TN, plus more than half each of MS, AR and LA - not to mention numerous coastal areas. OTOH the Confederacy doesn't hold a single square inch of the North and virtually nothing in the Border States once Early has left what's left of Washington. So even a standstill cease-fire is massively in favour of the North. Could they ever reach an acceptable deal?
 
What sort of terms are you envisaging? The Union controls WV and TN, plus more than half each of MS, AR and LA - not to mention numerous coastal areas. OTOH the Confederacy doesn't hold a single square inch of the North and virtually nothing in the Border States once Early has left what's left of Washington. The South has thus no bargaining chips, so that even a standstill cease-fire is massively in favour of the North. Could they ever reach an acceptable deal?
 
What sort of terms are you envisaging? The Union controls WV and TN, plus more than half each of MS, AR and LA - not to mention numerous coastal areas. OTOH the Confederacy doesn't hold a single square inch of the North and virtually nothing in the Border States once Early has left what's left of Washington. So even a standstill cease-fire is massively in favour of the North. Could they ever reach an acceptable deal?
The Union would be incredibly desperate for peace, especially the copperheads, who promised that immediate peace would be their first priority. The Indian territory is debatable, but it's fair to say that a white peace in which Confederate states and territories remain independent is the most likely result, as despite the country's poor situation, they're still in the position of power at any peace talks between the Peace Democrat-controlled Union government and the Confederacy.

Edit: Might look something like this
2000px-Historical_blank_US_map_1861.svg.png
 
The Union would be incredibly desperate for peace, especially the copperheads, who promised that immediate peace would be their first priority. The Indian territory is debatable, but it's fair to say that a white peace in which Confederate states and territories remain independent is the most likely result, as despite the country's poor situation, they're still in the position of power at any peace talks between the Peace Democrat-controlled Union government and the Confederacy.

Edit: Might look something like this
View attachment 501299



Family lore tells of how they fled "Indian Territory" just after the war. Most folks don't realize just how incredibly bad things were out there. Banditry, both organized and unorganized, atrocities, hatreds that ran deep, along with the curse of racism. That was one of the grimmest parts of the ACW.
 
The Union would be incredibly desperate for peace, especially the copperheads, who promised that immediate peace would be their first priority. The Indian territory is debatable, but it's fair to say that a white peace in which Confederate states and territories remain independent is the most likely result, as despite the country's poor situation, they're still in the position of power at any peace talks between the Peace Democrat-controlled Union government and the Confederacy.

Edit: Might look something like this
View attachment 501299


That gives the CSA twice as much territory as it held in Nov 1864 and which it was powerless to conquer.

If they made such a demand the Union would just tell them to go fly a kite. Even if the North have become slightly war-weary, to the point where they are willing to leave the CS independent in the territory it now holds, they have no reason whatever to surrender any territory currently in their hands.

And would there be any copperheads in the McClellan Administration? His appointments would require confirmation by the Senate, which will still be overwhelmingly Republican - a Democratic majority there would be mathematically impossible no matter how well the Dems did in Nov 1864. It might confirm War Democrats like Andrew Johnson, but certainly not pro-CS ones. Also of course the new Congress won't meet until Dec 1865 so its composition won't matter for some time.
 
That gives the CSA twice as much territory as it held in Nov 1864 and which it was powerless to conquer.

If they made such a demand the Union would just tell them to go fly a kite. Even if the North have become slightly war-weary, to the point where they are willing to leave the CS independent in the territory it now holds, they have no reason whatever to surrender any territory currently in their hands.

And would there be any copperheads in the McClellan Administration? His appointments would require confirmation by the Senate, which will still be overwhelmingly Republican - a Democratic majority there would be mathematically impossible no matter how well the Dems did in Nov 1864. It might confirm War Democrats like Andrew Johnson, but certainly not pro-CS ones. Also of course the new Congress won't meet until Dec 1865 so its composition won't matter for some time.
The Union would be far, far beyond "slightly war weary"; that's how I would describe their attitude in mid-1862, by late 1864 IOTL they were highly strained and only refused to try and make peace because of how tantalizingly close they were to victory. In this scenario, with every front being an abject failure, tens of thousands more left dead for no gain, Washington having been sacked, and riots and desertion ramping up enormously, Confederate guerrilla forces gaining steam, the dollar rapidly losing value, rebel saboteurs running wild, and no real end in sight, it's fair to assume the Union would accept such terms, especially considering that they aren't asking for any land that didn't already side with them and leave the US.
 
The Confederates were defeated in New Mexico in 1862 through an army of Colorado and New Mexico militia plus regular army. They were not coming back
 
The Union would be far, far beyond "slightly war weary"; that's how I would describe their attitude in mid-1862, by late 1864 IOTL they were highly strained and only refused to try and make peace because of how tantalizingly close they were to victory. In this scenario, with every front being an abject failure, tens of thousands more left dead for no gain, Washington having been sacked, and riots and desertion ramping up enormously, Confederate guerrilla forces gaining steam, the dollar rapidly losing value, rebel saboteurs running wild, and no real end in sight, it's fair to assume the Union would accept such terms, especially considering that they aren't asking for any land that didn't already side with them and leave the US.

The Union might be weary of offensive battles, but even if these are called off (and they will probably continue for at least four months after the election) this does not oblige the Union to give up what it already holds. Indeed, calling off offensive battles will make things easier, since it will release troops to deal with guerillas, and expel any know or suspected sympathisers to behind the Rebel lines. And if the Confederates try to take the offensive in order to recover any territory, they will be dashing their heads agaisnt a superior force, and after a few "Cold Harbors in reverse" will soon leave them at least as war-weary as the North.

One other point. Since the fall of Vicksburg, the Western States have recovered their outlet to the gulf of Mexico, which they can now use simply for the paying of a toll. Are they going to want his outlet handed back to what is now a foreign power, and which is totally powerless to gain the area by force?

Keep also in mind that the Copperheads have to look to the future. It is one thing to argue that reconquest of the territory still under Confederate control is impossible, but quite another to make totally unnecessary territorial concessions. They are going to be widely seen as disloyal merely for calling off offensive action. Why lend credence tot he charge by ceding territory which they are perfectly able to hold?
 
Even if you discount 2/3 of the Washington garrison (XIII corps) as combat ineffective (optimistic) that still leaves a roughly equal force to Jubal Early's entrenched in fortifications with overwhelming artillery support.

Short of these troops just turning tail and running at the sight of the "invincible Confederate war machine " then Early can demonstrate and make a nuisance of himself outside Washington but can't take the city itself.

Worse, if he tried then he could be caught by the reinforcing troops from VI corp after a failed assault and may end up being scattered and losing his command.
 
Even if you discount 2/3 of the Washington garrison (XIII corps) as combat ineffective (optimistic) that still leaves a roughly equal force to Jubal Early's entrenched in fortifications with overwhelming artillery support.

Short of these troops just turning tail and running at the sight of the "invincible Confederate war machine " then Early can demonstrate and make a nuisance of himself outside Washington but can't take the city itself.

Worse, if he tried then he could be caught by the reinforcing troops from VI corp after a failed assault and may end up being scattered and losing his command.


So at best it would be a "hit and run".

Istr reading that a Union general or politician told a British visitor that even if the Rebs took Washington "It would make no more difference to the course of the war than when you burnt it". He was probably right.
 
So at best it would be a "hit and run".

Istr reading that a Union general or politician told a British visitor that even if the Rebs took Washington "It would make no more difference to the course of the war than when you burnt it". He was probably right.
I think this is almost an ACW Sealion in terms of plausibility.

OP's consequences are highly unlikely to the point of being ASB

Along with the Battle of the Crater, the occurrence or result of which would not change much in this scenario, as the battle happened very briefly after Early's attack on Washington, and the sacking of Washington, the Union would almost certainly have an overwhelming desire to capitulate, and Grant, who proved multiple times IOTL, was willing to wage 'hail mary' battles for the chance of a victory to propel the nations desire to continue the war, would likely launch a massive offensive along either the entire line or a large portion of it. Considering that his force would be significantly smaller due to a large portion being sent north to deal with Early, his near total lack of success thus far with assaulting Confederate entrenchments on the eastern front, and the amazing position of Lee's forces, such a battle would almost certainly be doomed to total failure, and an extremely costly failure at that. It would likely be something resembling Cold Harbor had Meade and Grant continued throwing men at the Confederates for days longer.

With every major campaign being a total loss for the Union, tens of thousands laying dead, Washington having been sacked, and the already low popularity of the war, it is certain than an anti-war Democrat would be elected, likely McClellan, who would move to end the war at once. With the Union being in such a poor spot, and desiring to end the war at once, terms would certainly favor the Confederacy, likely including the cession of the Indian territory, Arizona territory, and New Mexico territory. While it's possible that the terms would involve something like the cession of West Virginia or even a slave-holding border state, these would be far more unlikely to pass through, even considering the situation.

So the Union has an overwhelming desire to capitulate but despite this launches human wave attacks at prepared defences "just to make sure" they are in the worst position possible?????? And then in the peace negotiations gives up all the gains it has made?? Lead paint in the tea has nothing on the preferred beverage of McClelland, obviously. Especially as McClelland was not a peace candidate, he was an anti-war candidate. He did not support the Copperhead platform, instead he sought to make a peace where the Union was restored - not a peace at any price and certainly not an independent CSA.

 
So the Union has an overwhelming desire to capitulate but despite this launches human wave attacks at prepared defences "just to make sure" they are in the worst position possible?????? And then in the peace negotiations gives up all the gains it has made?? Lead paint in the tea has nothing on the preferred beverage of McClelland, obviously. Especially as McClelland was not a peace candidate, he was an anti-war candidate. He did not support the Copperhead platform, instead he sought to make a peace where the Union was restored - not a peace at any price and certainly not an independent CSA.

Quite.

I suppose that if the war is still going nowhere in March '65 (a *very* big if) then Mac might resign himself to accepting CS independence in the territory it still held. But he has no reason at all to hand back areas in Union hands. At most, he might evacuate the various coastal enclaves in NC and points south, but even for that he would want an equivalent area (perhaps more of AR and LA) in exchange.

If of course the tide had turned in the Union's favour by the time Lincoln left office, then forget it. The South would get a "conditional surrender" allowing them to keep slavery when they rejoined the Union - but nothing more.
 
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