Alright, so the bone of this postulation is extremely unlikely, so much so that divine intervention isn't entirely out of the question. However, for the sake of the discussion, let's say that plausibility is somehow waived and everything that could go right does go right, but no actual Alien Space Bats.

The following happens:

  • H.H. Sibley wins a decisive victory at Valverde. More accurately, Colonel Green manages to redirect the 4th Texas into a different section of the Union line, and instead of plowing into a Coloradoan line unit they smash through a militia regiment and manage to fight clear to the river. Green manages to follow this up and spark a route, which results in the capture of Fort Craig and the dispersal of its garrison.
  • With Fort Craig reduced, more men are able to move northwards with the main force to Glorieta Pass. Because of this, the Confederate supply train remains intact, and Sibley can be reinforced by forces coming up the Rio Grande.
  • Santa Fe then falls, and with guns, bullets and food looted from the city Sibley's army manages to cross the Rockies and advance on Denver and its gold reserves, catching the remaining Coloradoans while they are dispersed and defeating them piecemeal.
  • Somehow, be it swarms of bandits, hostile Indians or the South Platte having apocalyptic floods, the gold in Denver isn't evacuated before Sibley reaches the city and takes it. Meanwhile, the California Column gets hit by a series of giant dust storms and is scattered in the desert with few survivors.
  • Sibley sends some of the gold back east but uses the rest to hire a makeshift army of bandits, Mexican Republicans, filibusters and various native groups. This 'army' goes east, following the California Column's supply route towards the west coast.
  • Somehow, the California militia is inept enough that Sibley manages to reach the goldfields of the eastern mountains and makes off with a crap ton of gold. This is probably the least realistic part, I have no idea how it could've been pulled off. Still, it doesn't break the laws of physics, so it's not completely ASB?
  • After securing several thousand pounds of gold, Sibley then turns and flees southward, dodging past the many Union armies attempting to halt his overburdened and exhausted 'army'.
  • Sibley then manages to escape across the border to Mexico, whence he reaches a neutral/Imperial port and get the gold onto French and British ships as Confederate credit, then makes his way back north to Confederate Arizona without getting attacked by the Mexicans.
It's February 1863, things are mostly the same in the east, except now the Union West is in shambles and men are being rapidly railed in. They also have a great deal more money to spend in Europe, although it will still have to be smuggled through the blockade. So, what happens next.
 

dcharleos

Donor
Alright, so the bone of this postulation is extremely unlikely, so much so that divine intervention isn't entirely out of the question. However, for the sake of the discussion, let's say that plausibility is somehow waived and everything that could go right does go right, but no actual Alien Space Bats.

So, typically, I try not to mess with the premise of a what-if. But, in this case, I think that this chain of events isn't just extremely unlikely, it's impossible. But I think that I get what you're going for, and it's not ASB all the way through. So if you'll allow me to do a bit of snipping...

The following happens:

  • H.H. Sibley wins a decisive victory at Valverde. More accurately, Colonel Green manages to redirect the 4th Texas into a different section of the Union line, and instead of plowing into a Coloradoan line unit they smash through a militia regiment and manage to fight clear to the river. Green manages to follow this up and spark a route, which results in the capture of Fort Craig and the dispersal of its garrison.
  • With Fort Craig reduced, more men are able to move northwards with the main force to Glorieta Pass. Because of this, the Confederate supply train remains intact, and Sibley can be reinforced by forces coming up the Rio Grande.
  • Santa Fe then falls, and with guns, bullets and food looted from the city Sibley's army manages to cross the Rockies and advance on Denver and its gold reserves, catching the remaining Coloradoans while they are dispersed and defeating them piecemeal.
  • Somehow, be it swarms of bandits, hostile Indians or the South Platte having apocalyptic floods, the gold in Denver isn't evacuated before Sibley reaches the city and takes it. Meanwhile, the California Column gets hit by a series of giant dust storms and is scattered in the desert with few survivors.

This, right here, is the last point any of this stays within Earth's orbit. So let's just say that Sibley manages to win at Valverde, Glorieta Pass, and then goes on to sack Santa Fe and Denver, gobbling up--let's be generous--$2 million in gold. I know that Sibley did intend to go to California, dragging a bunch of gold around with him through an area the size of North Africa. This would fail for the same reason that he didn't make it to CO OTL--the animals will simply not be able to keep up. So let's just assume that upon reaching Denver, he realizes this, and decides to change plans.

So now what? Well, Sibley's in quite a pickle. Sibley needs to get $2 million in gold to Richmond, VA. Gold is very heavy--more than twice the weight of iron--making its transport slow and cumbersome. Now if he was in say, Louisville, this might not be such an issue. But Sibley's not in Louisville. Sibley's in Denver, which in the 1860s was the literal middle of nowhere. The nearest railroad is in ::checks map:: Galveston, TX which is about 1000 miles away. Galveston is also the location of the nearest friendly port.

Not good.

So, if Galveston is the nearest friendly port, what about a different kind of port? Not an unfriendly port, per se, just a port where everyone wasn't trying to kill him when he arrives. A neutral port, you might call it. The closest neutral port? Eh....Ensenada. Also...about 1000 miles away.

So Sibley's best option is to abandon his idea of linking up with Baylor in Arizona and do his best to get the gold out of his custody and into the custody of Kirby Smith, his immediate superior. And this is still going to be really, really difficult. Almost the entire country between Denver and East Texas is inhabited by hostile Apaches and Comanches, swarming with outlaws and misfits to boot. And let's not forget, the country is extremely rugged and arid. Unforgiving.

But if by some miracle Kirby Smith and Sibley are able to get the gold on a boat and into Richmond, what then?

Well that part is a little bit harder to figure out. An infusion of $2 million in gold in late 1862 or early 1863 would be pretty significant. The Erlanger loan, for example, OTL's only foreign loan to the Confederacy, was only $3 million. So one big effect is that the Confederate economy is going to be stronger in 1863. So maybe this lessens internal dissent in the CSA, you might see less desertion, a few more volunteers. The overall effect of some better materiel going into the 1863 campaign season is not going to be decisive in and of itself, but it'll probably tip some of the closer engagements the Confederates' way, and maybe some of their victories are a little more decisive.

Ironically, I don't think that the area of greatest effect would be in the Transmississippi. The collapse of Confederate power in the far West was just a matter of time. This will put it off until 1863.

I think the area of greatest effect will be in the CS naval program. That's an area where a quick infusion of cash could have really changed some outcomes, both in terms of finding skilled personnel and quality materials for domestic production, but by financing the construction of ships in international ports as well. Just off the top of my head, it seems like the extra cash could probably get the Laird rams finished a few months early, and then delivered. Those could be at least temporary blockade breakers, so that scrambles things pretty good already. This doesn't necessarily win the war for the Confederates, but it does mitigate a couple of the things that held them back.
 
Top