Until Every Drop of Blood Is Paid: A More Radical American Civil War

I understand if this doesn't feel like a great narrative moment, and that's because life often doesn't make narrative sense. Victories are often the result of outside factors or coincidences. I do think the victory is the fault of the Confederates' hubris, which has been bolstered by 3 previous triumphs (Peninsula, Bull Run, Frederick). In this case, I think the victory disease is somewhat justified because when Lee took the reins, everything had been going wrong for the Confederacy in the East. They had lost the First and Second Maryland Campaigns and Anacostia, and the enemy was at the gates of Richmond. Enter Lee and not only he turned the tide, he destroyed the enemy. Up to Union Mills it seemed that indeed he was capable of doing anything, for Hooker failed at Bull Run and Reynolds at Frederick. This hubris was also shown in how they thought the Black troops were useless and would simply break. It also responds to factors outside the story, in this case, that I partially wrote myself into a corner - another big Confederate victory or just a semi-triumph like OTL's Antietam would have turned this into a Confederate victory TL.

I mean, the Peninsula Disaster is already kind of like that - Lee destroyed two corps but the Army of the Susquehanna was back on the field very soon. Another similar moment may take place in the future, when trench warfare starts.
The main issue is that this is supposed to be the turning point for the Union, when they finally get their stuff together and turn the tide against the Confederates, but it feels less as them winning than the South losing. They didn't win because they had a good plan and took advantage of any enemy mistakes in the heat of battle, they won because the CSA command was basically out of commission (maybe that's a little too exaggerated, but you know what I mean) and made irrational decisions.

Yeah, the Peninsula was rough, but I could see it as a nice contrast to it. Where in the Peninsula they broke and took a long time to get men and their morale back up, in this North Anna they keep on going, quickly making up their loses with volunteers/black troops. It would show how far the army's come
 
I must admit that I'm somewhat worried. Was the update bad? After almost 2 days it doesn't have even 50 likes, whereas other updates usually reach 70 in the same time. I'm sure that many of you were expecting an account of the battle, but I think it was necessary to talk about this too, and it only fit here. Please like the update, and if it's been bad, I'm open to criticism and advice.
That was absolutely not a bad update! Give us a break, some of us are on holiday with a weak Internet access and thus lagging a bit in reading updates...
 
The main issue is that this is supposed to be the turning point for the Union, when they finally get their stuff together and turn the tide against the Confederates, but it feels less as them winning than the South losing. They didn't win because they had a good plan and took advantage of any enemy mistakes in the heat of battle, they won because the CSA command was basically out of commission (maybe that's a little too exaggerated, but you know what I mean) and made irrational decisions.
The thing is, though, that battles are as often won or lost due to unexpected, sometimes surprisingly mundane, twists of fate, or to the opposing side's command echelon running into serious problems as because of any especial brilliance or valor on the part of the winning side's commanders.
 
The thing is, though, that battles are as often won or lost due to unexpected, sometimes surprisingly mundane, twists of fate, or to the opposing side's command echelon running into serious problems as because of any especial brilliance or valor on the part of the winning side's commanders.
Also Lee is running on a victory disease high that is likely only matched by the Japanese in the lead up to Midway. That does not lead to rational thinking in the minds of those who have it. I can easily buy Lee thinking that his troops can do anything against the pathetic Yankees who dare try to march a good old Southern invincible Southern boy. Something that he was inflicted with to a degree OTL but here due to the scale of his victories is magnified tenfold.
 
Also Lee is running on a victory disease high that is likely only matched by the Japanese in the lead up to Midway. That does not lead to rational thinking in the minds of those who have it. I can easily buy Lee thinking that his troops can do anything against the pathetic Yankees who dare try to march a good old Southern invincible Southern boy. Something that he was inflicted with to a degree OTL but here due to the scale of his victories is magnified tenfold.
I would wonder about Lee's state of mind in the wake of the Pennsylvania Campaign's failure. He'd put a good game face on it - even after Gettysburg, he insisted that the failure was not that of his men, but his own - but his confidence would be badly shaken, if in fact not outright broken. And apart from the men of the Army of Northern Virginia, his reputation across the Confederacy as a whole, and particularly in the upper echelons of the government, their confidence in him to lead the army, would be severely strained if not destroyed. I remember reading many years ago a couple of novels, one set in a "Confederate victory" timeline, and one set in OTL but positing a what-if, about possible courts of inquiries or even court-martials of General Lee over his conduct of the Gettysburg campaign* ; here, the pressure for a full-scale investigation by the Confederate Congress in Richmond would be almost impossible to resist.

More to the point though, the remnants of Beauregard's and Jackson's corps would, as @Red_Galiray says, have had the underpinnings of their worldview knocked out from under them. Try as they might - and they'd be debating it around the campfires every night - they just wouldn't be able to come up with any justification that held water as to why the much-despised n*****s were able to beat "Lee's Invincibles" so soundly, twice in rapid succession; still less because they'd have been right up there in the firing lines opposite the USCT's and broken under the fury of their onset.

I don't think the Confederate government, as much as it would undoubtedly love to, is going to be able to suppress the story of exactly what happened at Fort Saratoga and Union Mills for long. There are too many soldiers who survived those engagements to be silenced; they're going to talk and write letters, and so will their officers. The effect on home-front Southern morale is going to be...fascinating. In fact, there's probably going to be a wave of renewed panic about slave uprisings, all the sharper given the incontrovertible evidence that Black soldiers are capable and more than capable of fighting and defeating Whites. In OTL there was already a serious problem with governors of various Confederate states (Georgia was a particular offender) holding back thousands of state troops/militia which could have made a substantial difference in numbers for the Confederate field armies; this is going to be exponentially worse now as state governments come under intense pressure to protect slaveowners from their slaves.

*We do know that Lee convened a court of inquiry to examine the conduct of the Gettysburg Campaign in August 1863, https://www.historynet.com/in-the-hot-seat-over-gettysburg.htm , though he ended up shouldering all the blame for the campaign's failure and protecting his subordinates (even when they deserved criticism). He probably wouldn't be able to protect his generals as comprehensively TTL.
 
I also wonder if Jefferson Davis might be forced out as Confederate Secretary of War in the wake of the Pennsylvania Campaign fiasco. I imagine his unyielding, compromise-averse nature has made him as many enemies as OTL, and those in the Confederate Congress who particularly dislike him (such as Senator Louis Wigfall of Texas) would smell blood in the water. Matter of fact, if Lee is still popular enough in the Army of Northern Virginia, I can see a possible path of Breckenridge throwing Davis under the omnibus (horse-drawn buses, also called "horse-buses", had been in use in London and Paris since the 1820's and in New York since 1860, so this isn't an anachronism ;) ) to save Lee, at least temporarily (assuming that the "Marble Model" doesn't just tender his resignation).
 
An amazing chapter as always! It looks like this might be the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. Though I'm sure there is much more bloody fighting to come.
 
@Red_Galiray your worries about yoru writing are the samer as any writer Indeed, you're just like a novelist who says, "This is what I wnt my arc to be, in a series of arcs," and then tries to get there.

I don't see any problem with the military part - I do wonder if you had the Confederates win at Frederick in order to build drama, losing sight of that final arc for a moment, but you yourself admit that you wrote yourself into a corner a bit there, and it's still realistic. I don't think there's any problem - there are probably plenty of battles that have gone like that.

So, keep up the good work. It's a great story, and very realistic.
 
Lee offered his resignation after Gettsyburg, which was significantly less of a disaster than this last one. I can certainly see him doing so, especially if his heart problems are anything like OTL. And if Lee goes, then so does Davis I would imagine, especially if Davis tries to defend him against a court of inquiry.

On the other hand, if a court of inquiry is paneled, then the two obvious victims are A. P. Hill and P. G. T. Beauregard. The man whose incapacity put the army in mortal danger at Frederick and the man who got his corps wrecked at Fort Saratoga would have a hard time defending their actions on those days to any court, I would imagine, and much less a court determined on sacrificing a scapegoat. I can definitely see Davis and Breckinridge throwing those two under the omnibus (to borrow a phrase) in order to keep Lee, who's still the Hero of the Peninsula. Lee might object, on the grounds that as the general commanding the army he's the one responsible for either victory or defeat, but if Breckinridge orders him to play along then he'll do so; orders are orders, and all that.

All of which calls to mind a question; what's the state of the Army of Northern Virginia's officer corps? Jackson, Longstreet, and Stuart are still in service, but what about Hood and McLaws, Ewell and Anderson, Early and Rodes, Kershaw and Gordon and Hampton? Part of what made the AoNV so dangerous was that cadre of division and brigade commanders that Lee and company had molded into such a responsive instrument that so rarely broke down. Once those men start wearing out, then the AoNV gets progressively creakier and more weight starts to ride on Lee's shoulders as the man who has to be everywhere and keep a handle on everything, where before he could delegate a significant portion of his plans to Jackson for execution. IOTL we start to see this at Gettysburg, where Ewell just doesn't carry out his discretionary orders on the first day in the way that Jackson would have and which Lee had become accustomed to, and it gets progressively worse through the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg.
 
All of which calls to mind a question; what's the state of the Army of Northern Virginia's officer corps? Jackson, Longstreet, and Stuart are still in service, but what about Hood and McLaws, Ewell and Anderson, Early and Rodes, Kershaw and Gordon and Hampton? Part of what made the AoNV so dangerous was that cadre of division and brigade commanders that Lee and company had molded into such a responsive instrument that so rarely broke down. Once those men start wearing out, then the AoNV gets progressively creakier and more weight starts to ride on Lee's shoulders as the man who has to be everywhere and keep a handle on everything, where before he could delegate a significant portion of his plans to Jackson for execution. IOTL we start to see this at Gettysburg, where Ewell just doesn't carry out his discretionary orders on the first day in the way that Jackson would have and which Lee had become accustomed to, and it gets progressively worse through the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg.
The flip side is that the Union's officers are getting better while the Confederate's are getting worse. The capable officers of the Union are being promoted into positions where their talents can shine.
 
Longstreet no longer a Confederate by wars end? Does Pete end up defecting back to the Union before things really get bad? Also Benjamin Butler I could actually see as president with a more radical Republican party.
Spoilers ;) Also, Butler is a shifty man I simply can't trust. I do think he could find a place in the radical wing of the party, but I don't think he'd be a good president.

Socialist v.s Capitalist civil war?
The idea really interests me. Two of my favorite TLs (The Falcon Cannot Hear and The Glowing Dream) are about socialist revolutions in the US. It just feels like such a cliche, since there are so many such TLs.

on this grant disscussion perhaps lincoln wanting to get reelcted chooses grant as he's politicaly neutral and lincoln is surer of him then Reynolds ?
lincoln was still a politician after all and he may take the decision that with so many talented generals he can afford to have the general in chief title for political reasons?
My main reason to want Grant as commander in chief is his unflinching commitment to Black civil rights and his willingness to use the Army to defend them. For, as much as Johnson tried to impair him, Grant did his best to maintain peace and assure a modicum of justice for the freedmen, and I just can't see anyone else doing as well as him in that regard. There's also the obvious fact that Grant is perhaps the best in grand-strategy, and right now, with the Confederacy on the ropes, it would be good to start simultaneous offensives. I think that, given Grant's record with the contrabands and greater political polarization, Grant would probably have no choice but to openly declare himself (or be declared by others) to be a Republican, at the same time disclaiming any wish to challenge Lincoln's renomination. This would make him a perfect General in-chief, compared with the other more conservative men in the Army. In any case, Lincoln's position should be much stronger so he wouldn't have to fear such challenges.

The main issue is that this is supposed to be the turning point for the Union, when they finally get their stuff together and turn the tide against the Confederates, but it feels less as them winning than the South losing. They didn't win because they had a good plan and took advantage of any enemy mistakes in the heat of battle, they won because the CSA command was basically out of commission (maybe that's a little too exaggerated, but you know what I mean) and made irrational decisions.

Yeah, the Peninsula was rough, but I could see it as a nice contrast to it. Where in the Peninsula they broke and took a long time to get men and their morale back up, in this North Anna they keep on going, quickly making up their loses with volunteers/black troops. It would show how far the army's come
I guess some minor changes could be made to address these mistakes. First, to have the Confederates win a bigger victory at Frederick and then breaking and routing the Union forces. He does this after an attack on the Union flank, which the micromanaging Reynolds doesn't see coming. After stopping the rout, Reynolds pulls out. He actually goes to Baltimore, but Lee believes he's fleeing, and thinks he's done the Peninsula again. This would, also, help explain Lee's hubris when he meets him again at Union Mills. Reynolds has learned that Lee will attack his flank, so he sends in the USCT. The Union then don't break, in a complete reversal of previous engagements. That way the stakes are raised and the Union commanders take a more proactive role in Lee's defeat.

That was absolutely not a bad update! Give us a break, some of us are on holiday with a weak Internet access and thus lagging a bit in reading updates...
Uh, sorry. I guess I panicked needlessly, didn't I?

I would wonder about Lee's state of mind in the wake of the Pennsylvania Campaign's failure. He'd put a good game face on it - even after Gettysburg, he insisted that the failure was not that of his men, but his own - but his confidence would be badly shaken, if in fact not outright broken. And apart from the men of the Army of Northern Virginia, his reputation across the Confederacy as a whole, and particularly in the upper echelons of the government, their confidence in him to lead the army, would be severely strained if not destroyed. I remember reading many years ago a couple of novels, one set in a "Confederate victory" timeline, and one set in OTL but positing a what-if, about possible courts of inquiries or even court-martials of General Lee over his conduct of the Gettysburg campaign* ; here, the pressure for a full-scale investigation by the Confederate Congress in Richmond would be almost impossible to resist.
Breckinridge has the added misfortunes that: 1) Confederate elections are near, 2) Beauregard would rather blame anyone and anything than assume any failure, and as he's already a bitter enemy he would claim that Fort Saratoga is Breckinridge's fault, and 3) If not Lee, then who? This campaign will end up like not just a military disaster, but a full fledged political crisis.

I also wonder if Jefferson Davis might be forced out as Confederate Secretary of War in the wake of the Pennsylvania Campaign fiasco. I imagine his unyielding, compromise-averse nature has made him as many enemies as OTL, and those in the Confederate Congress who particularly dislike him (such as Senator Louis Wigfall of Texas) would smell blood in the water. Matter of fact, if Lee is still popular enough in the Army of Northern Virginia, I can see a possible path of Breckenridge throwing Davis under the omnibus (horse-drawn buses, also called "horse-buses", had been in use in London and Paris since the 1820's and in New York since 1860, so this isn't an anachronism ;) ) to save Lee, at least temporarily (assuming that the "Marble Model" doesn't just tender his resignation).
Davis, for all his faults, has shown himself to be one of the hardest working and most capable Confederate politicians, and a stalwart supporter of Breckinridge. He, to be sure, has many enemies as a result of his personality - Johnston and Beauregard detest him, and Wigfall, although he gets along better with Breckinridge, is barely able to put up with Davis. Breckinridge would probably attempt to find a way to keep both Lee and Davis, at least for the moment. But well, we'll analyze this situation more on the future. Tis are hard times in Dixie...

An amazing chapter as always! It looks like this might be the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. Though I'm sure there is much more bloody fighting to come.
Thank you very much! The end of the war is in sight, but there's still a lot of sacrifice before it truly ends.

@Red_Galiray your worries about yoru writing are the samer as any writer Indeed, you're just like a novelist who says, "This is what I wnt my arc to be, in a series of arcs," and then tries to get there.

I don't see any problem with the military part - I do wonder if you had the Confederates win at Frederick in order to build drama, losing sight of that final arc for a moment, but you yourself admit that you wrote yourself into a corner a bit there, and it's still realistic. I don't think there's any problem - there are probably plenty of battles that have gone like that.

So, keep up the good work. It's a great story, and very realistic.
Thank you for your support. I tend to fret needlessly whenever I feel I've made a mistake, but it's good to have kind readers who help keep me grounded.

On the other hand, if a court of inquiry is paneled, then the two obvious victims are A. P. Hill and P. G. T. Beauregard. The man whose incapacity put the army in mortal danger at Frederick and the man who got his corps wrecked at Fort Saratoga would have a hard time defending their actions on those days to any court, I would imagine, and much less a court determined on sacrificing a scapegoat. I can definitely see Davis and Breckinridge throwing those two under the omnibus (to borrow a phrase) in order to keep Lee, who's still the Hero of the Peninsula. Lee might object, on the grounds that as the general commanding the army he's the one responsible for either victory or defeat, but if Breckinridge orders him to play along then he'll do so; orders are orders, and all that.

All of which calls to mind a question; what's the state of the Army of Northern Virginia's officer corps? Jackson, Longstreet, and Stuart are still in service, but what about Hood and McLaws, Ewell and Anderson, Early and Rodes, Kershaw and Gordon and Hampton? Part of what made the AoNV so dangerous was that cadre of division and brigade commanders that Lee and company had molded into such a responsive instrument that so rarely broke down. Once those men start wearing out, then the AoNV gets progressively creakier and more weight starts to ride on Lee's shoulders as the man who has to be everywhere and keep a handle on everything, where before he could delegate a significant portion of his plans to Jackson for execution. IOTL we start to see this at Gettysburg, where Ewell just doesn't carry out his discretionary orders on the first day in the way that Jackson would have and which Lee had become accustomed to, and it gets progressively worse through the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg.
Beauregard is in a very precarious situation right now. His defeat at Fort Saratoga was more than humiliating, and he and Breckinridge already have a bad relationship, despite all of Breckinridge's attempts to placate him. I can't see Lee coming to the rescue there, and Davis would probably do his best to get rid of Beauregard, who's not only a personal enemy but an insidious political foe for the entire administration. Hill is a different case, and I can definitely see Lee trying to shoulder all the blame for both Frederick and Union Mills, thus absolving Hill. Being that Breckinridge is not merely a superior but a friend, and that Lee is not merely a good general but a political asset, Breckinridge is probably trying to find a way to keep him around. Just with a tighter leash.

I tend not to write or even think of who is in every little position because I find such lists to be endless and boring minutia. My approach is basically "if the TL or logic don't say otherwise, it's the same", meaning that it's safe to assume that many officers are still in their OTL positions. However, the attrition you mention is real and dangerous here as well. Union Mills, explicitly, ended with scores of experienced and capable officers either dead or captured, and because prisoner exchanges have broken down they won't return any time soon. I reserve the right of saying who exactly has been taken out, as a way to leave my options open. But the bottom line is that while the Army of the Susquehanna is changing for the better thanks to the promotion of capable men, the Army of Northern Virginia is getting progressively worse in all respects.

The flip side is that the Union's officers are getting better while the Confederate's are getting worse. The capable officers of the Union are being promoted into positions where their talents can shine.
Yes, that exactly. The Union is getting rid of its McClellans, Frémonts and Buells and promoting better officers.
 
The idea really interests me. Two of my favorite TLs (The Falcon Cannot Hear and The Glowing Dream) are about socialist revolutions in the US. It just feels like such a cliche, since there are so many such TLs.
I agree, it is kind of a cliche. There is also the Civil War in that one I forget the name of where Jefferson puts in the anti-slavery clause in 1776 and 1912 leads to real problems.

The thing is that we avoided more of a socialist tint because of Theodore Roosevelt and others serving at a time when real reforms were needed. What is the opposite of those above timelines happened and after a while America actually became more of a social democracy. Perhaps you could explore the idea of Christian Democrats - in this case Christian Republicans - deciding that support for worker rights was important and biblical. If the north is using Christian values to enforce Reconstruction and then those groups doing that latch onto workers needing support, you could actually have an interesting scenario where reactionaries, in an almost cult-like manner, turn against this positive step.

Lincoln was very good politically at creating coalitions. I mean, he had all the leaders of the Republican party in his cabinet. Add to that that Octavius catto whom I mentioned earlier had a father very involved in Black presbyterianism and you could easily create a dynamic where the glory of the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is used to support reconstruction, the freedom Christ provides being key. They can then naturally bring in people supporting workers rights add supporting the same kinds of freedom.

It would make a much more unique set of circumstances.

I'm glad you see my point about Frederick. The fact that people are on both sides of what you did show that you did it the right way. Some think it was already to close for comfort as a possible Confederate Victory timeline and others think you should have more of a Confederate victory. So, I think you did it just right.

Edit: Not Henry G. makes a good point that having Jackson and hll healthy would be a good compromise, you have the South stronger and the fall is bigger without them having any stronger of a victory.
 
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I guess some minor changes could be made to address these mistakes. First, to have the Confederates win a bigger victory at Frederick and then breaking and routing the Union forces. He does this after an attack on the Union flank, which the micromanaging Reynolds doesn't see coming. After stopping the rout, Reynolds pulls out. He actually goes to Baltimore, but Lee believes he's fleeing, and thinks he's done the Peninsula again. This would, also, help explain Lee's hubris when he meets him again at Union Mills. Reynolds has learned that Lee will attack his flank, so he sends in the USCT. The Union then don't break, in a complete reversal of previous engagements. That way the stakes are raised and the Union commanders take a more proactive role in Lee's defeat.
That would definitely work. To paraphrase Tite Kubo, "As a fan, your role is to decide to read what I write or not. Your role is not to try to change me or my work." , so I'll stop trying to change your story after this suggestion: maybe have Hill or especially Jackson be at 100%, so the victory does belong to the Union. Like someone who replied to me said, in battle everyone makes mistakes and most battles are won by external factors, but with a healthy Jackson it is a legitimate error, not something the South can try to explain away ("well if he wasn't so tired he would have smashed those negroes!" or such).

Now to something else, I'm really looking forward to how you handle Lee's reaction to this defeat. He basically got McClelland'd, and if he tried to resign after Gettysburg he might actually just walk out of the army for this one. I think it would be interesting if he either goes Petesburg from the get-go (full defense with trenches and all), which prompts the Union to just raze the entire South to win, or tries to salvage the war with another gamble and gets defeated and humiliated by getting captured, which would ruin his reputation as someone "who only lost because the North had more men and material" into someone "who only won by luck, and when it ran out he just kept getting defeated".
 
Also, Butler is a shifty man I simply can't trust. I do think he could find a place in the radical wing of the party, but I don't think he'd be a good president.
Butler, Wade, Sumner or Seward (Seward's pro-immigrant stance would make the GOP less nativist and more competitive in taking migrant votes) a good choice if you want to drag Republicans to the left. You can also pick James Garfield and Benjamin Bristow as well as Ebenezer and George Frisbie Hoar.

Besides, Carl Schurz would also be very valuable once the Reconstruction finishes - he lived until the late 1890s IOTL - even though he was not eligible to run.

Nathaniel Banks was an inept general but a good progressive liberal politician. He was not a Radical Republican but with this war going so brutal, you could easily radicalize him.

Overall, creating a Second Era of Good Feeling and then splitting the GOP into a 2 new parties would be better than keeping the Democrats around.
 
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Garfield was a good man and IMO would've been a good President. Arguably Grant would be too were he to fall in with the right crowd post-war.

(Grant-Garfield ticket? The war hero and the clean kid?)
 
I guess the GOP will really be the Grand Old Party in this timeline. How did they get the nickname IOTL, since the Democrats are more than twenty years older?
 
This doesn't have much to do with the war, but will James G. Blaine have a prominent role in this TL? The guy was infamously corrupt, even by Gilded Age standards.
 
Perhaps you could explore the idea of Christian Democrats - in this case Christian Republicans - deciding that support for worker rights was important and biblical.
There is definitely a tradition for this in western politics, but it's mostly Catholic.

Which may be related to why it never became a major phenomenon in the United States.
 
This doesn't have much to do with the war, but will James G. Blaine have a prominent role in this TL? The guy was infamously corrupt, even by Gilded Age standards.
Continuing on that subject, could Henry George become mayor of NYC in 1886 (more than 20 years after the war, I know) and hopefully smash Tammany Hall's stranglehold over city politics to bits? He was supported by a labor party IOTL, and was only defeated in that race because of fraud.
 
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