Italy vs USA 1891: your opinion?

  • American victory

    Votes: 26 55.3%
  • Italian victory

    Votes: 4 8.5%
  • Stalemate

    Votes: 17 36.2%

  • Total voters
    47
New Orleans:
It was March 14 1891, a furious crowd of 3000 lead by William Parkerson was marching towards the local prison (Their intentions were clear: hundred of them were bringing guns.).
The year before 19 Italians were accused of the murder of David Hennesy.
That day in March 8 of them were killed by the crowd.

The incident strained relations between the USA and Italy. The Italian consul Pasquale Corte left New Orleans in May 1891 and the Italian government asked for the lynch mob to be brought to justice.

When the USA refused Italy sent 23 modern ships in the Atlantic.
At the time the US only had 4 modern ships!

In the end president Benjamin Harrison formally excused and paid $25,000 to the victims' families.

I think you all know what I want to ask:

What if it happened? What if USA went on war with Italy in 1891?
 
New Orleans:
It was March 14 1891, a furious crowd of 3000 lead by William Parkerson was marching towards the local prison (Their intentions were clear: hundred of them were bringing guns.).
The year before 19 Italians were accused of the murder of David Hennesy.
That day in March 8 of them were killed by the crowd.

The incident strained relations between the USA and Italy. The Italian consul Pasquale Corte left New Orleans in May 1891 and the Italian government asked for the lynch mob to be brought to justice.

When the USA refused Italy sent 23 modern ships in the Atlantic.
At the time the US only had 4 modern ships!

In the end president Benjamin Harrison formally excused and paid $25,000 to the victims' families.

I think you all know what I want to ask:

What if it happened? What if USA went on war with Italy in 1891?

Whichever side does the declaring will be the laughing stock of the diplomatic community as the "war" becomes one of dogs on chains; snapping and barking but unable to reach out far enough from their post without choking themselves
 
Whichever side does the declaring will be the laughing stock of the diplomatic community as the "war" becomes one of dogs on chains; snapping and barking but unable to reach out far enough from their post without choking themselves
That's what I meant: a stupid sea war lasting only the time the Italian fleet would need to sink those four ships, bomb a city (Chose the one you prefer.) and convince Benjamin Harrison to pay maybe even less then $25,000.
Actually a stupid war that would make the entire world laughing, but that would change Italian politics: after being defeated in Ethiopia and at Lissa people's morale was so poor (To say nothing about the navy's ones...), a marginal "victory" *cough cough* stalemate on the sea would be praised as a triumph.
Italians could even propose themselves as 'protectors' of Spaish Caribbeans against the evil US. (I don't think Spain would accept.)
About Americas I think they would just lynch other Italians as revenge.
 
That's what I meant: a stupid sea war lasting only the time the Italian fleet would need to sink those four ships, bomb a city (Chose the one you prefer.) and convince Benjamin Harrison to pay maybe even less then $25,000.
Actually a stupid war that would make the entire world laughing, but that would change Italian politics: after being defeated in Ethiopia and at Lissa people's morale was so poor (To say nothing about the navy's ones...), a marginal "victory" *cough cough* stalemate on the sea would be praised as a triumph.
Italians could even propose themselves as 'protectors' of Spaish Caribbeans against the evil US. (I don't think Spain would accept.)
About Americas I think they would just lynch other Italians as revenge.

You assume the US would be stupid enough to sorte into the open ocean and give battle to the Italians. I'd argue its far more likely the Atlantic Fleet concentrates in a foritifed harbor, the coastal artillery gets put on high alert, and wait for the Italians to either try to bombard a city (all the big ports have good coastal defenses, who'd easily be able to outgun and outlast any Italian task force) and wait for the Italians to run out of fuel and being forced to limp back home (lacking any bases in the Western Hemisphere) or if they insist on pressing hard on the coast for them to run out of shells and suffer sufficent damage from the coastal counterbatteries.

I for one think this war would actually last for a comically long time, all things considered, rather than being patched up quickly for political reasons. 1891 was a critical period in laying down the international policy perspective of both nations, and neither would want to suffer the "embaressment" of backing down and "losing" right out of the gate after laying down such grandiose plans. The Monroe Doctrine; which the US was just starting to give independent teeth too and solidifying its Hemispheric hegemony in the first Conferance of American States two years previously, disputes with Canada (A British possession) over fishing rights in the Aluetian Islands, the simering boundry dispute in Venezula that ran the risk of drawing direct British involvement into the Hemisphere, increasing German commerical penetration, ect, demands that the US take a bold stance against a power as minor as Italy trying to project military power into the Americas, lest a nation with bigger chops think they can get away with it. Italy, meanwhile, needs to project some kind of backbone on the international stage as she's struggling to be taking seriously; including solidifying her dubious control/claim over Eriteria from being challanged by rivals looking to expand their own colonies (France, in particular), bolster the legitimacy of an active forgien policy/expansion of influece and control in general in the face of the domestic debate, and avoid further destabalization of the already tumultious regieme.

Nothing, after all, makes a government more unpopular than losing a war. Except maybe a tax hike.

Given that, I imagine both sides are going to keep insisting the other side "surrender" (Even if they can't attiquetly gather a list of concessions they really want), if only to admit fault for the whole affair. The US would probably want a signed pledge from Italy not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere as well.
 
New Orleans:
It was March 14 1891, a furious crowd of 3000 lead by William Parkerson was marching towards the local prison (Their intentions were clear: hundred of them were bringing guns.).
The year before 19 Italians were accused of the murder of David Hennesy.
That day in March 8 of them were killed by the crowd.

The incident strained relations between the USA and Italy. The Italian consul Pasquale Corte left New Orleans in May 1891 and the Italian government asked for the lynch mob to be brought to justice.

When the USA refused Italy sent 23 modern ships in the Atlantic.
At the time the US only had 4 modern ships!

In the end president Benjamin Harrison formally excused and paid $25,000 to the victims' families.

I think you all know what I want to ask:

What if it happened? What if USA went on war with Italy in 1891?

There were cases where Italian immigrants had been persuaded to immigrate to Mississippi at the behest of sharecroppers, and said sharecroppers were convicted of "peonage" (nominally illegal) based on their treatment of the Italians thanks to complaints from Italian government figures.

That's what I meant: a stupid sea war lasting only the time the Italian fleet would need to sink those four ships, bomb a city (Chose the one you prefer.) and convince Benjamin Harrison to pay maybe even less then $25,000.
Actually a stupid war that would make the entire world laughing, but that would change Italian politics: after being defeated in Ethiopia and at Lissa people's morale was so poor (To say nothing about the navy's ones...), a marginal "victory" *cough cough* stalemate on the sea would be praised as a triumph.
Italians could even propose themselves as 'protectors' of Spaish Caribbeans against the evil US. (I don't think Spain would accept.)
About Americas I think they would just lynch other Italians as revenge.

IIRC there were coastal forts which might challenge the Italian Navy on their own. But overall it's a pretty stupid war which has huge ramifications in both Italy and the US. Especially the US, since now they know that if they want to uphold the Monroe Doctrine and defend their country, they need to build a real navy fast (and hopefully more balanced than the OTL US fleet in the 1890s/1900s).

Italians will still end up hated, so immigration restrictions might occur earlier and Italians already in the US clamped down on, from innocent immigrants trying to make their way to immigrants with "disagreeable" ideologies like socialism to outright criminal immigrants like Mafia members, or immigrants who joined the criminal groups like in the South with the expansion of the Mafia in New Orleans.
 
You assume the US would be stupid enough to sorte into the open ocean and give battle to the Italians. I'd argue its far more likely the Atlantic Fleet concentrates in a foritifed harbor, the coastal artillery gets put on high alert, and wait for the Italians to either try to bombard a city (all the big ports have good coastal defenses, who'd easily be able to outgun and outlast any Italian task force) and wait for the Italians to run out of fuel and being forced to limp back home (lacking any bases in the Western Hemisphere) or if they insist on pressing hard on the coast for them to run out of shells and suffer sufficent damage from the coastal counterbatteries.
1) I'm assuming that if US government is stupid enough to start this war it'd be also stupid enough to lose the spearhead of their navy somehow.
2) I didn't mean bombing a city like NY or NO, I was thinking about bombing a small town and calling it supreme victory.
 
The U.S.A military had a total manpower of only 37,868 with 26,463 in the army, 9,247 in the navy and 2,158 in the marines. The details are dodgy on Italy in this period, but judging by the research I have done they *could* amass a land force of over 15,000 by the time of the First Ethiopian War.
https://www.alternatewars.com/BBOW/Stats/US_Mil_Manpower_1789-1997.htm

If you go for the Itaian Sources in the Abbisinian War they Send 36.000 men.
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerra_di_Abissinia#cite_ref-6

And the Italian Army consisted in 1890in aboutn 150.000 men

That's what I meant: a stupid sea war lasting only the time the Italian fleet would need to sink those four ships, bomb a city (Chose the one you prefer.) and convince Benjamin Harrison to pay maybe even less then $25,000.
Actually a stupid war that would make the entire world laughing, but that would change Italian politics: after being defeated in Ethiopia and at Lissa people's morale was so poor (To say nothing about the navy's ones...), a marginal "victory" *cough cough* stalemate on the sea would be praised as a triumph.
Italians could even propose themselves as 'protectors' of Spaish Caribbeans against the evil US. (I don't think Spain would accept.)
About Americas I think they would just lynch other Italians as revenge.
The Lissa Battle was in 1866, almost 30 years before the POD, ( unless you are speaking about another Lissa) when the Italia have barely five year from being united,I doubt the battle is still make the Italians morale poor, Is like say the Vietnam war still make the USA army morale low.
The Italian-Abyssinian War, was in 1895, the POD is 1891, Four years before the war and the Italian Defeat, If anything this will make clear the USA is a second rate power that Lost against Italy, the Country that can´t even conquer Abyssinian. And will Encourage Italy to double down his Abyssinian ambitions
 
1) I'm assuming that if US government is stupid enough to start this war it'd be also stupid enough to lose the spearhead of their navy somehow.
2) I didn't mean bombing a city like NY or NO, I was thinking about bombing a small town and calling it supreme victory.

Political decision making is not the same as military decision making. Also, you assume the US is the one declaring war, not the Italians. Which I'd argue is far more likely, given the fact they're the one pushing for action/change to the status quo and aggressively deploying their military.
 
1) I'm assuming that if US government is stupid enough to start this war it'd be also stupid enough to lose the spearhead of their navy somehow.
2) I didn't mean bombing a city like NY or NO, I was thinking about bombing a small town and calling it supreme victory.

1 - Would certain people really want a war given Italy's naval strength relative to the US? In 1898, the US was much stronger than Spain after all.
2 - Kind of dumb, since there's a lot of East Coast towns which could be bombarded after all, even if the main body of US warmaking potential is in Pennsylvania, New York, and New England

The Lissa Battle was in 1866, almost 30 years before the POD, ( unless you are speaking about another Lissa) when the Italia have barely five year from being united,I doubt the battle is still make the Italians morale poor, Is like say the Vietnam war still make the USA army morale low.
The Italian-Abyssinian War, was in 1895, the POD is 1891, Four years before the war and the Italian Defeat, If anything this will make clear the USA is a second rate power that Lost against Italy, the Country that can´t even conquer Abyssinian. And will Encourage Italy to double down his Abyssinian ambitions

A pretty catastrophic underestimation to make, given American industrial potential and how if they decide to give the Italians what they want, they're amping up the US Navy big time to prevent that from happening ever again.
 
Let's see...

First, did Italy have any basing rights with any other country? Because there's this one small issue that Italy has: range. They have no bases in the New World, and most of their ships can't even reach the US.

As the crow flies, it's 4732.445 nautical miles from Rome to New Orleans, and it's 3894.168 nautical miles from Rome to Washington DC. That's both assuming that Italian ships can sail straight through Spain. Let's see... Using free map tools, it's roughly 4300 nm to Norfolk Harbor from Rome, and over 5000 nm to New Orleans.

That means the only cruisers that could serve are the 4 Etna class (5k nm), the Piemonte (7k nm), and the ironclad Italia (5k nm) (this ship also had no belt armor). That's all of the modern Italian warships that could actually reach the United States, unless there is a cobelligerent providing fuel et al.

Six modern warships for the Italians that can reach the US Coast. And only one that could reach New Orleans, so the target has to be the Eastern Seaboard.

So, that's six modern ships vs the ABC cruisers of the Americans. But wait, there's more! The US also have the luxury of acting as the defender, as they have no prayer of reaching Italy and they wouldn't declare war in this situation (as the government knows they have no method of executing an offensive war). So, the Italians would have to come to the US, where they'd have the luxury of harbor defenses. (which, of course, are a bit run down, but upon declaration they'd be rushed back into service and upgraded).

The US also have the 6 modern monitors being fit out of the Amphitrite, Puritan, and Monterey classes. Only one of these were commissioned in 1891 OTL, but nearly all of them were ready in 1891 (Puritan was completely fitted out in 1891 and wasn't commissioned until 1896), and we can ignore Monterey as she was on the west coast, so you'll have all 5 of these vessels being launched ASAP and rushed to the front.

So while the Italian Navy has absolute superiority comparing fleets to each other, the Americans can achieve local numerical superiority, do not need to worry about the fuel situation (While the Italians do, which limits how much they may maneuver at flank speed, negating the speed advantage they possess), and the Americans have the ability to lean on coastal artillery as a force multiplier, especially as only one Italian ironclad battleship can be brought to the fore.

So, agreed with @FillyofDelphi in that the war will drag on forever, as the Italians cannot actually commit, merely harass. The Americans freak out and start building up their navy even faster than OTL. Eventually returns to status quo ante bellum, unless one side plays foolishly and overcommits. The Italian's best chance is to attempt to rush early in the war and try to bombard and force a casefire, but that's a very risky gambit in and of itself, especially due to the fuel issues noted before. It's likely they expend a large part of their ammunition and return, but not achieving much in material objectives.

Biggest losers: Spain facing a bigger US Navy during the Spanish American war, possibly the Ottomans as the US actually might have the forces to consider intervening against abuse of missionaries in the 1890s as well.
 
Very good point!
God, this is getting so interesting!
This means that to have an opportunity of winning Italy needs at least Spanish ports in Cuba.
IYO would Spain allow it?
 
Very good point!
God, this is getting so interesting!
This means that to have an opportunity of winning Italy needs at least Spanish ports in Cuba.
IYO would Spain allow it?

Very unlikely - no Spaniards have been harmed, and frankly, the US interest in Cuba is age-old at this point. Going out of their way to give the US a reason to be antagonistic to them, more so than usual, isn't ideal. The US Navy is weaker, but it doesn't really do Spain any favors and puts their own assets at risk, while Italy risks nothing of their own save their fleet.
 
A pretty catastrophic underestimation to make, given American industrial potential and how if they decide to give the Italians what they want, they're amping up the US Navy big time to prevent that from happening ever again.
Of stupid decisions, lack of foresight, lack of insight is build the history of our world
 
Very unlikely - no Spaniards have been harmed, and frankly, the US interest in Cuba is age-old at this point. Going out of their way to give the US a reason to be antagonistic to them, more so than usual, isn't ideal. The US Navy is weaker, but it doesn't really do Spain any favors and puts their own assets at risk, while Italy risks nothing of their own save their fleet.

Agreed. The Italians in Cuba would also be a clear signal of military action against the Americans as Italy wouldn't have any other use for them. The minute Italy gets basing rights in Cuba the American newspapers are going to go nuts, screaming that an Italian invasion was imminent. If the US ever wanted an excuse to seize Cuba, this is it.
 
The only thing going for the Italians is that the US fortifications were fairly old in 1891 - the Endicott rebuild, though started in 1887, was slow going (As it always is with US military spending at this time). Most of the guns used in forts were 8" rifled guns that were over 20 years old at this point. Again, though, comes the caveat that in the event of a war scare, production would be rushed and put into place (though some may not reach service before the end of hostilities, as happened in the Spanish-American war).

Also! I've forgotten about the 5 protected cruisers (Newark through San Francisco) which were all commissioned before the riot occurred (. If we want to get technical, USS Vesuvius is also in service, though she won't be seeing actual combat likely (as her range is too short). USS Olympia would likely have her hull laid down early as well, as she's the next protected cruiser to be built for the US Navy.

The US only had 1 torpedo boat at the time, the Cushing, but in the event of a war scare (and the Italians effectively going "all in" with their fleet), the US would easily have the potential to build many more, as she was deemed an experimental warship similar to Vesuvius. The limiting factor here would be how many torpedoes could be built, not how many torpedo boats could be.

Really, the only thing the US lacks that it can't get quickly are full-fledged battleships (2nd rate or not), but it has sufficient monitors that it can work with what it has. And here's a bigger question: Of its navy, just how much is Italy going to throw at the Americans? It can't risk everything it has, as if it does, then Italy could be left with few modern warships in the worst case scenario.
 
Very good point!
God, this is getting so interesting!
This means that to have an opportunity of winning Italy needs at least Spanish ports in Cuba.
IYO would Spain allow it?

Unlikely. Now, it's possible if the war, as it drags on, turns into a broader question of the extent of the Monroe Doctrine (This is pre-Roosevelt Corollary, so Europeans aren't guranteed the US will enforce their legitiment concerns on their behalf), like if the rhetoric and American national mood bleeding into firmer protests or even shows of practical support in Venezuela or over some case of gunboat diplomacy) then maybe France or the UK would offer them rights to spite and leverage pressure on Washington... but that's a big if
 
Unlikely. Now, it's possible if the war, as it drags on, turns into a broader question of the extent of the Monroe Doctrine (This is pre-Roosevelt Corollary, so Europeans aren't guranteed the US will enforce their legitiment concerns on their behalf), like if the rhetoric and American national mood bleeding into firmer protests or even shows of practical support in Venezuela or over some case of gunboat diplomacy) then maybe France or the UK would offer them rights to spite and leverage pressure on Washington... but that's a big if

Considering French adventures elsewhere against the Italians, and with the UK also somewhat opposed to others interfering in the Americas as well (the Venezuela crisis is still 4 years from boiling over, though I guess it could simmer shorter and hotter).

Though, what are the Italians doing in the interim while they wait for ages for a port? Do they try and stage a raid to show the US they can be attacked? Do they just engage in commerce raiding (might irk neighboring powers, especially as Britain does not want the French school of guerre de course to become prevalent and accepted as a mode for warfare. And, as pointed out, the longer the war would drag on, the more preparations could be made (the US even ordered guns from Great Britain OTL as their emplacements were not ready; a similar order might be placed here).
 
Considering French adventures elsewhere against the Italians, and with the UK also somewhat opposed to others interfering in the Americas as well (the Venezuela crisis is still 4 years from boiling over, though I guess it could simmer shorter and hotter).

Though, what are the Italians doing in the interim while they wait for ages for a port? Do they try and stage a raid to show the US they can be attacked? Do they just engage in commerce raiding (might irk neighboring powers, especially as Britain does not want the French school of guerre de course to become prevalent and accepted as a mode for warfare. And, as pointed out, the longer the war would drag on, the more preparations could be made (the US even ordered guns from Great Britain OTL as their emplacements were not ready; a similar order might be placed here).

Good point. I had considered the French rivalry with Italy in the context of helping drag out the war, but now that you mention it the Italian fleet being away on raids or prize hunting would certainly create openings for France to push harder (particularly if French nationals get killed in attacks) on Rome. The legitimacy and strength of Italian control in Eretria is iffy at best, and after Fashoda France is still on the hunt for her colonial "jewel in the crown" that a consolidated East African Empire might provide. Now that she's in a period of Detente with Britain, would she use Italy's lack of naval power projection, need for French capital and resources, and diplomatic vulnerability to undermine her position in Ethiopia to try to establish their own protectorate there?
 
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