The Union Forever: A TL
The Union Forever: A TL
Please discuss this TL here
Hello everyone, the following is the start of a TL based on a different Peninsular Campaign in 1862. It is my intention to follow this TL if it proves popular enough past the Civil War and into the Twentieth Century. This TL hopefully will also demonstrate the powerful effect that small butterflies can have over time. Speculation and suggestions are more than welcome. Cheers.
Union fortunes were looking up in the early months on 1862. After a largely lackluster performance for most of 1861 Federal troops had scored a series of impressive victories against the South. General Grant had captured the Confederate Forts Donnellson and Henry on February 6th and 16th respectively opening up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Nashville, then the capital of Tennessee, fell by the end of the Month. The Union even managed a costly victory at the Battle of Shiloh on April 7th. General Pope captured Island Number 10 on the Mississippi River and over 7,000 prisoners on April 8th. Further south the largest port in the Confederacy fell to Admiral Farragut and General Butler on May 1st crippling the confederate’s use of the Mississippi River. Union forces were also making impressive headway by capturing points along the Confederate coastline.
Confederate reverses had severely dampened Confederate spirits. Indeed, when Jefferson Davis was formally installed as the President of the Confederate States of America (Previously he had just been provisional president) on a rainy day in Richmond when an onlooker asked one of Davis’s footmen why he and President Davis were dressed in black suites the footman responded with “Well Ma’am this is how we always have done in Richmond for funerals and such.” And with the large Army of the Potomac hovering north of the city many in the Confederacy were wondering whether their secessionist experiment might soon unravel.
The Beginning of the Peninsular Campaign and General McClellan’s Accident
With these successes in the west, Lincoln naturally pressed for similar results in the east. However President Lincoln and his eastern generals differed as to the performed method. He personally wished for, what appeared to him to be the obvious choice for, an overland campaign from Washington to destroy Johnston’s Army. The President however eventually bowed to General McClellan’s plan to land the Army of the Potomac on the coast of Virginia and then move onto Richmond.
The Union had been making steady but painfully slow progress up the Peninsular between the James and York Rivers sense March 1863 captured Yorktown, the former colonial capital of Williamsburg, and the vital naval base of Norfolk (the Confederates destroyed the CSS Merrimack to prevent her from falling into Union hands).
May 12, 1862; General McClellan must have been feeling very pleased with himself after the resent capture of Norfolk against what he consistently believed to be “vastly superior rebel numbers.” Whether this sense of overconfidence helped McClellan not see the shard of metal in the road on that spring morning however is lost to history. Around 8:00am after a light breakfast with some of his lieutenants, McClellan mounted his horse Baldy to inspect the camp and make his rounds amongst his troops. Unfortunately for McClellan however Baldy while trotting at a good pace along a fence line near Headquarters picked up 6 inch sliver of metal that had been protruding from the road (whether this piece of metal was placed there intentionally has never been proven). Because of the speed at which Baldy had been traveling the shard went through the frog of the forward right hoof. McClellan, despite being a confident horseman was thrown when Baldy came to an abrupt and jerking stop. McClellan would in all probability have been fine if it was not for the fence that ran alongside the road. As McClellan fell the fence caught him in the lower back breaking his spine. Captain Jeremiah O’Connor, one of McClellan’s aids was the first to reach McClellan. McClellan’s first words to O’Connor after realizing that he could not move his legs were “Who will save the Union now?.”
Army of the Potomac
Commander: July 26, 1861-May 13, 1862
General Sumner takes Command
the Death of Stonewall Jackson
Maj. Gen. Sumner
Army of the Potomac
After being examined, Army surgeon Charles A. Hoffmann stated what McClellan already knew, that he was paralyzed from the waist down. News quickly spread of General McClellan’s incapacitation. The soldiers of the Army of the Potomac were needless to say devastated by the news of their “Little Mac’s” fall especially in the middle of a campaign. When President Lincoln heard the news, Lincoln is reported to have sighed, hung his head, and muttered “the one time the General takes my advice to move quickly he breaks his back.” To many this seems to have come at the worst time while Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was making himself a profound nuisance in the Shenandoah Valley and the Army of the Potomac was tied up on the Peninsula. Although despite cables from McClellan that he could still command from his HQ, Lincoln and Halleck both agreed that he would need to be evacuated and a new commander appointed.
With only limited discussion they both decided that Brig. General Edwin Vose Sumner, then the commander of the Army of the Potomac’s II Corps, would take command, Sumner the logical choice being the senior General officer on the Peninsular. When word reached General Sumner of his appointed as commander along with his pending promotion to Major General he remarked “Leave it to General McClellan to hand me a situation like this.” Sumner however was, as events would soon prove, more than up to the task.
Meanwhile, the Union was suffering some staggering reverses in the Shenandoah Valley. Confederate Maj. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had, with his few thousand troops, been scoring a series of victories against the north in the Shenandoah Valley since March in an effective effort to divert Union reinforcements from reaching McClellan on the Peninsula. Union forces had been largely unsuccessful in stopping Jackson despite their superior numbers.
However, Jackson’ impressive skill and luck did eventually run out. Confederate Maj. General Richard S. Ewell’s troops had been ordered to be withdrawn from the Valley in an effort to reinforce Richmond on May 20th, 1862 (Despite pleas for Robert E. Lee to leave Ewell in the Valley to assist Jackson, Jefferson Davis ordered Ewell’s redeployment because he believed that with the removal of McClellan a move against the supposedly weekend Army of the Potomac should take priority.)Jackson and the few remaining thousands of his foot cavalry were engaged by General Banks’ forces near the city of Strasbourg, Virginia on May 22nd. The battle seemed to be going well for the Confederates until Jackson, who was standing as did “Like a stone wall”, was struck from his horse by a Union bullet to the neck. Jackson bleed out within minutes and the sorrow and confusion surrounding his death led to the Union emerging victorious capturing the bulk of the late Stonewall’s men.
Gen. Stonewall Jackson moments before he was shot and killed.
May 22nd, 1862
May 25th- May 30th, 1862
General Sumner upon inheriting command of the Army of the Potomac wasted no time in continuing to drive up the Peninsular towards Richmond. News of Stonewall Jackson’s death at Strasbourg, Virginia was welcomed news as this meant that Union Maj. General John Pope’s Army of Virginia was now free to press the Confederates from the North.
The Confederates were in a bind.. Richmond was in serious danger of becoming encircled with Sumner’s Army of the Potomac advancing up the Peninsular in the east and Pope’s Army of Virginia heading south, placing it in a position to envelope the city north, west, and maybe even cut Richmond’s supply lines from the south. Furthermore, Southern morale was plummeting and desertions rose as a result of the Yankees advancing ever closer to the Confederate capital in addition to the death of Stonewall Jackson.
Jeff Davis along with his military aid General Robert E. Lee met with General Johnston at his HQ on May 25th. Davis, with Lee’s encouragement, felt that Johnston should move offensively against Sumner on the Peninsula. They felt that if the Army of the Potomac suffered a serious reversal (Jeff Davis was operating on the ultimately unfounded conviction that the death of General McClellan had crippled the AotP’s morale) it would retreat down the Peninsula allowing Confederate forces to then turn against Pope in the north. Johnston however, largely due to his numerical inferiority, believed in a more defensive strategy. He hoped that Sumner would grind his army to a pulp as the Army of Northern Virginia fell back onto Richmond. Johnston also suggested that Ewell’s troops, bolstered by some reinforcements from his own army, could hold Pope’s force in check. Davis for now agreed to Johnston’s defensive strategy but stated that if an opportunity to move against Sumner appeared that Johnston should take it.
The Battle of the Chickahominy
the Fall of Richmond
Union forces at the onset of the Battle of the Chickahominy
June 1-June 6th, 1862
What became known as the Battle of the Chickahominy (The Four Days Battle to the South) started with General Sumner leading a general advance against the Confederate defensive positions outside of Richmond on June 1st, 1862. Although Johnston had diverted troops to prop up his northern defenses the Confederates managed to hold their works against Union attacks for most of June 1st and June 2nd. On the evening of June 2nd in light of the apparent Southern success Davis ordered Johnston to attack the Army of the Potomac in the morning. Although Johnston was wary of switching to the offensive, he realized the significance that a successful attack would have (Historians have also debated whether Johnston feared being relieved by Davis if he refused to attack). On June 3rd Johnston ordered a counterattack against the Union’s left south of the Chickahominy. The resulting Confederate attacks pushed the Federal forces under General Keyes back almost a mile. However around 4:00pm the Confederate forces, who had suffered heavy casualties, ran out of steam as they encountered Union entrenchments anchored a few hundred yards from the Chickahominy River. By 5:30 general Johnston was forced to call off the advance.
On the night of June 3rd both sides stopped to mull over the situation. Davis and Johnston were relatively pleased with the day’s results. The Federals had been pushed back and Davis believed that Sumner would at least withdraw his troops to the north side of the Chickahominy to consolidate his forces. Sumner however, had different plans. Sumner believed, correctly as events would show, that Johnston’s center must have been stretched dangerously thin and that he probably did not expect the North to resume the battle the next day. That night Sumner ordered Sedgwick’s corps to prepare pontoon bridges for use the next morning. At a council of war Gen. Sumner convened that night his Generals were surprised to hear that despite the day’s losses, the Army of the Potomac would again attack the Confederates, who were now exposed outside of their defenses, led by a river assault by Sedgwick’s s II Corps.
Around 7:30 am on June 4th, the Union line exploded by launching one of the heaviest artillery barrages of the war. Within an hour the Union’s left and centered were surging against the weakened Confederate lines. The Union’s right under General Porter was also making considerable headway and was threatening to turn the Confederate left. By 1:00pm the Confederate right was in danger of being cut off by Sedgwick’s advance and began a headlong retreat west towards Richmond. The Union continued to advance the rest of the day and although casualties were high on both sides the Confederates, due to their inferior numbers, were forced to fall back to within only a few miles of Richmond itself.
On the night of June 4th President Jefferson Davis was forced to listen to the advice of Johnston and Lee who informed him that Richmond must be abandoned. There decision to evacuate Richmond was also influenced by an erroneous report that Ewell had been defeated by Gen. Pope at Gordonsville, Virginia the same day (In reality Pope had in the end been checked by Ewell and had fallen back). Regardless, much of the Confederate governments records and treasury had already been packed and was ordered shipped to Greensboro, North Carolina. Jefferson Davis and most of the other members of the Confederate Government left Richmond on June 5th, 1862.
The Battle of Richmond was anticlimactic as Confederate forces fighting a regard action, moved through the city heading south. On the morning of June 6th, 1862 Union forces entered the capital of the Confederacy. When the Stars and Stripes was raised over the Virginia statehouse a Union private yelled to General Sumner “If only Little Mac could see us now!”
Richmond, June 6th, 1862
Union troops relaxing
June 7th-June 12th 1862
When Abraham Lincoln, pacing around the Washington telegraph office as he often did, received the news of the fall of Richmond he is reported to have jumped for joy so high that he hit his head on the office’s ceiling. Indeed the entire North was electrified by the fall of the Confederate capital. Harper’s Weekly ran above a full page illustration of General Sumner the headline “The Conqueror of the Confederacy”. Even the usually somber New York Times blared “Glorious News, Richmond Rightfully Ours!”
If the North was ecstatic, needless to say Confederate moral was devastated by the loss of Richmond. The fall of Richmond was a serious blow to Confederate hopes of receiving foreign recognition. Confederate agent John Slidell in a letter addressed to President Davis from London about a week after receiving news of Richmond’s capture stated “The loss of our capital has silenced almost all discussion here of recognition of our Southern republic. “ On June 10th as the Army of Northern Virginia continued to head south Davis relieved General Johnston and placed General Robert E. Lee in command. Lee moved the Army of Northern Virginia to a position a few miles south of Petersburg, Virginia to lick his army’s wounds. Lee had to double the night watch around his camp as desertions, especially amongst Virginian troops, continued to increase at an alarming rate. General Ewell’s forces, who had bested Union Gen. Pope at Gordonsville, were being hurriedly routed to reinforce Lee before they were cut off by Northern troops.
Gen. Robert E. Lee
Army of Northern Virginia
On June 12th, Jefferson Davis, along with Confederate Secretary of War George W. Randolph, met with General Lee at his Headquarters. All three of the men present knew that if the military situation couldn’t be righted and quickly, the Southern cause was lost. But what to do? It appeared to Davis that he was ever increasingly in a no win scenario. Basic military strategy would dictate that the weaker force (i.e. the South) should be on the defensive. However the defensive strategy the Confederacy had been pursuing since the start of the war seemed now to have met with almost nothing but defeats. If they continued on the defensive it would appear that the Confederacy would continue to be slowly strangled by the encircling Union armies. If Davis went over to the offensive however the potential loss of Lee’s Army would be an irreversible calamity.
Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, 1862
Events however, were becoming desperate. Desertions were skyrocketing, the value of Confederate money was plummeting, and several in the Confederacy were now beginning to contemplate rejoining the Union if only a guarantee of slavery could be made. The later sentiment was especially strong in the states of Tennessee and Virginia which were now largely in Union hands. If these states reverted back into the Union, Davis believed, the Confederacies chances of survival would become slim indeed. Therefore, despite the discrepancies in strength, it was agreed that as soon as possible General Lee should move against the Army of the Potomac along with a similar offensive push by Confederate Armies in the Western theater.
The Western Theater
Army of the Mississippi
The Western Theater had been going well for the Union. Corinth, Mississippi had fallen shortly after the battle of Shiloh. Jefferson Davis had replaced General Beauregard with General Braxton Bragg as commander of the Army of the Mississippi after Beauregard left for medical leave without permission following the fall of Corinth. Although Bragg had proposed an invasion of Kentucky via Confederate controlled eastern Tennessee, Davis instructed Bragg to move against Gen. Buell in Nashville. The reasons for a move against Nashville were two fold. Firstly, as the state capital, Nashville’s recapture would go a long way in helping silence any talk of Tennessee returning to the Union. Secondly, in the event of a defeat, an Army invading Kentucky would run the serious risk of becoming cut off and captured. Bragg’s move towards Nashville was planned to coincide with Lee’s proposed move in Virginia in order to tie down the maximum number of Confederate troops.
Gen. Don Carlos Buell
Army of the Ohio
The North however was having considerable difficulty in capturing Vicksburg that, along with Port Hudson, was blocking Union use of the Mississippi River. Attempts to bombard it into submission had met with failure. Gen. Grant was then dispatched with considerable forces to capture the city and open the river.
Lee and Bragg AdvanceJuly-August, 1862
On July 27th, 1862, in the swelter summer heat the Confederate Armies of Northern Virginia and of the Mississippi began their advance towards their Federal counterparts. Both Bragg and Lee hoped that their offensives would liberate the two confederate state capitals that had fallen into Yankee hands. Bragg’s plan was simply, move directly against Buell in Nashville and capture the town before Union reinforcements in western Tennessee came to his aid.
Lee’s plan however was more complex. Lee intended move his forces westward around Richmond and advance towards Washington. Sumner, Lee predicted, would move out of his fortifications in Richmond and engage him. This plan was undoubtedly risky. If Lee was victorious the Union would have vacated Richmond, and if the Army of the Potomac was mauled enough be cut off from its supplies and lines of retreat to the north. On the other hand if Lee was defeated his lines of retreat would be cut off. It was a definitely a gamble but with the diminishing Confederate fortunes, Lee was willing to risk it to prevent the subjugation of his native state.
Gen. Robert E Lee as he advances north into Union occupied Virginia
The Siege of Nashville and Lee’s movements in Northern Virginia
Tennessee State Capitol and barracks for the Union during the Siege
The Siege of Nashville began on August 6th, 1862 when the vanguard of Gen. Bragg’s Army of the Tennessee drove in outer elements of Gen. Buell’s Army of the Ohio. Buell’s army took up their defensive positions around the city. Bragg, for now, enjoyed a rough numerical parity with the Federals. On the morning of August 8th, Bragg launched his attack on Buell’s forces south of the Cumberland River. These morning attacks were in the end both costly and a failure. Confederate General Leonidas Polk, a cousin to former U.S. President Polk, was mortally wounded by Union artillery during the assault. A devout Episcopal Bishop, General Polk’s final words were “I thank God that he has called me to him so as my eyes will not witness the fall of the South”. To the absolute bewilderment of Jefferson Davis, Bragg refused to launch follow up attacks and settled down into a siege of Nashville, the whole time begging for reinforcements the Confederacy, with another ongoing campaign in Virginia, could hardly spare. In the meantime the Union was rushing reinforcements to the relief of Nashville from other parts of Tennessee and Kentucky. The clock was running against Bragg, a fact that he seemed to totally disregard.
Meanwhile in the east, Gen. Lee was moving rapidly and was passing north of the Army of the Potomac, which was still in Richmond. President Lincoln had been disappointed with General Sumner’s lack of progress since the Confederate capital fell and was adamant that Sumner now move to intercept Lee before he reached the Washington defenses. Sumner complied leaving a small force to garrison Richmond, and started to move the large Army of the Potomac north in what many believed would be the deciding battle of the war.
The Rappahannock Campaign: Part 1Map of Northern Virginia, 1861
August 10-14, 1862
The Army of Northern Virginia was making impressive headway in the direction of Washington. It overcame its first obstacle by pushing through a detachment of dismounted Union cavalry at the Battle of Culpepper Courthouse on August 11, 1862. Lee’s plan was to continue to push north through Brandy Station and cross the Rappahannock River at Rappahannock Station. Once north of the Rappahannock, Lee planned on giving battle from a defensive position where Lee’s disadvantage of numbers could be marginalized. Lee had no illusions of totally destroying the Union Army, but with any luck the main body of the Army of the Potomac, now approaching from the south, would be defeated and then retreat towards Washington. Lee would then turn south and reoccupy Richmond, returning the Confederate capital to Southern control and giving the South a desperately needed boost in morale.
Union commander General Sumner however was not merely chasing Lee north. Taking advantage of the railroad and river networks in Northern Virginia, Sumner had decided to dispatch General Hooker’s I Corps north to be routed through Alexandria, Virginia to establish a blocking position north of the river at Rappahannock Station. Meanwhile the rest of the Union army would approached Lee from the South and box him in. In a sense it became a race against time to see who could arrive at this import river crossing first.
Lee continued to advanced north capturing Brandy Station on August 12 but only after unexpectedly stiff resistance by the small Union garrison. The next day Lee arrived at the Rappahannock shocked to see a large number of Federal Troops disembarking off the trains and drawing themselves into position north of the river. Lee, it was reported, was surprised to see such a large element of the Army of the Potomac to his north instead of trailing him to the south. Lee was now faced with a decision, he could 1) Order a hasty attack across the river and keep advancing towards Washington. or 2) Remain in Brandy Station and await a Union attack. Lee chose the former but ordered a night reconnaissance of Union positions north of the river to ascertain their strength.
On the morning of the thirteenth, Confederate scouts reported to Lee that the troops on the North bank of the Rappahannock consisted only of Hooker’s I Corps. The scouts also reported that Sumner with the rest of the Federal Army was fast approaching from the Southeast. Around 9:00am Lee assembled his commanders to discuss the situation. The Confederate forces did enjoy a numerical advantage against hooker’s troops to the north and if they could be defeated the Army of Northern Virginia could then turn its attention to Sumner when he arrived with the Union main body. However, this plan was not without risks. Hooker’s men had spent the night entrenching and crossing the river would be tough. In the end it was decided that Hooker’s Corp should be eliminated before the arrival of Sumner. The only Confederate Corps commander who voiced reservations was Gen. Longstreet who favored either skirting Hooker to the west or remain on the defensive and wait for a Union attack.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
Army of the Potomac
The Battle of Rappahannock Station began around 3:00pm on August 13th, 2010. With only a few hours to prepare and after a brief artillery barrage, the attack commenced with Confederate troops surging against the Union positions. Yankee guns overlooking the river crossing caused considerable Confederate casualties. For over three hours Lee made steady by costly process as he managed to force the Federals back. The Confederate assault was hindered by Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart who had been ordered to flank the Federal position from East. For reasons that remain unclear to this day, Stuart maneuvered his cavalry in a dashing but ultimate to wide of an arc around the Union position so that his forces did not join the battle for nearly four hours.
Artist depiction of the Confederate assault across the Rappahannock
As twilight approached Hooker ordered his severally battered Corps to fall back, leaving the Confederates in possession of the northern bank. Lee had scored his much hoped for victory over a Union army. However, the Confederates triumph had come at an extremely high price. A price that Lee’s already outnumbered army could hardly afford as the main body of the Army of the Potomac approached from the South.
The Rappahannock Campaign: Part 2
The Battle of Warrenton
the Defeat of Gen. Robert E. Lee
Warrenton, Virginia 1862
August 15-20, 1862
The morning following the Battle of Rappahannock Station was a bitter sweet moment for General Robert E Lee. He had scored a victory against the North but only after suffering severe casualties to his own force. He now was faced with three options 1) cut his losses and head South to avoid being trapped, 2) Continue to follow his original plan and turn and face Sumner somewhere north of the Rappahannock, or 3) Continue on towards Washington. Lee decided that he did not possess the forces to take Washington and if he continued on towards the Union capital he was going to be running the serious risk of becoming completely cut off from his line of retreat. Option 1 which was favored by some on his staff was also ruled out because it would not allow them to reoccupy Richmond, their chief objective. Therefore Lee decided to move to the town of Warrenton, Virginia located 13 miles north of Rappahannock Station and give battle to General Sumner who was hot on their tails. Warrenton was selected because if Sumner could be defeated it would allow him a clear line of retreat northward towards Washington, allowing the South in turn to reoccupy Richmond. It was also rumored that Warrenton had Union depots. Depots with food and supplies that Lee’s army desperately needed.
The Battle of Warrenton, which would prove to the deadliest battle in the Civil War, started on August 18, 1862 with an inconclusive skirmish between Confederate soldiers and forward elements of Union cavalry. August 19th, consisted of only sporadic skirmishes as the Confederates dug in and the Union forces drew themselves into position in a long line south of the town that curled northwards on both the eastern and western flanks. On August 20th at 9:00am Sumner launched the largest artillery bombardment of the war so far on the center of the Confederate line for over three hours. What would become known as Burnside’s Charge (named after Gen. Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Union IX Corps) occurred at 12:30pm when Sumner ordered a full scale assault on the battered Confederate center. The wooded terrain helped mask Union movements, but after almost 4 hours of repeated charges and countercharges the Confederate were still able to hold onto their works. (Historians have often criticized Sumner’s assault on the Confederates center, but it is important to note that it was Burnside’s Charge which forced the Confederates to weaken their left flank to reinforce their center on the night of August 19th that allowed for the decisive actions the next day.)
Gen. John Sedgwick
Army of the Potomac
For Lee, everything had been going according to plan. Sumner was attacking an entrenched Army of Northern Virginia and, so far, had been losing. Unfortunately for the South however Union superiority in numbers was about to decide the day. On the morning of August 20th, Union Gen. John Sedgwick of Connecticut launched a surprise attack against Lee’s weakened left flank. The previous night Sedgwick had convinced Sumner to not renew Burnsides attack on the Confederate center but instead reinforce his II Corps. Sumner also ordered the Union troops in the center and left to shuffle positions and make noise during the night to distract the Southerners. Sedgwick’s attack caught the Southerners off guard. Although the attack was very costly for both sides, the Army of Northern Virginia was so weakened from the previous week’s fighting that they did not have the numbers to match the Union’s. By 4:00pm General Lee was forced to order his Army to withdraw to the northwest. Lee then began preparations for the long retreat home and began to realize that his armies’ chances for survival were dropping by hour…
Clovenfeld's famous depiction of the Assault of Sedgwick's II Corps at the Battle of Warrenton (1913)
The Relief of Nashville
Confederate works outside of Nashville, August 1862.
As Bragg’s Army continued to besiege Nashville following his failed assault on the city on August 10, 1862, the Union had been amassing reinforcements on the north bank of the Cumberland and had steadily been building up forces in the city. The besieged Buell was soon joined by Gen. Halleck and his troops from the eastern part of the state. By August 20th Bragg had released that he was now facing a superior force. Ruling out another assault, Bragg contemplated withdrawing to Chattanooga, Tennessee before he became hopelessly outnumbered. However, orders from President Davis not the retreat and the very real fear that he would be relieved if he did prompted him to continue to dither and bombard the city.
Union troops charging the Confederate works at Nashville. Aug 22, 1862
On the morning of August 22nd, Buell and Halleck launched their assault against the Confederates entrenched on the outskirts of the city after a fierce artillery barrage. Bragg’s army performed rather well and made the Federals pay dearly for any ground gained. However by 2:00pm Union numbers and with Confederate artillery shells nearly depleted Bragg ordered his Army to withdraw. Although Bragg’s performance at Nashville has left much to criticize, Bragg did manage to facilitate an orderly withdraw allowing most of the Army of the Mississippi (soon to be renamed the Army of Tennessee) to retreat in good order.
One of the Union bands during the Siege of Nashville
It is also worth to note that on the evening of August 22nd, as Bragg withdrew, Gen. Halleck ordered, as Gen. Sumner had after the successful conclusion of the Battle of Warrenton, one of the regimental bands to play the song Battle Cry of Freedom which would in later years and after some alterations become the national anthem of the United States. (Original lyrics listed below)
“Yes we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
We will rally from the hillside, we'll gather from the plain,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor, up with the star;
While we rally round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
We are springing to the call with a million freemen more,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And we'll fill our vacant ranks of our brothers gone before,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And although he may be poor, not a man shall be a slave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
So we're springing to the call from the East and from the West,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And we'll hurl the rebel crew from the land we love best,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
Jefferson Davis was devastated when the news reached him of Bragg’s defeat. Despite a close relationship with Bragg, Davis relieved him three days following the battle and appointed General Joseph E. Johnston who had been without command since The Battle of the Chickahominy. This defeat coming so soon after Lee’s defeat in Virginia made the already dismal mood in the South to plummet even faster. Jefferson Davis now realized that his August offensives had now both meet with failure. Davis also realized that these twin defeats would only strengthen the now growing voices of dissent in his own government. On August 25th, Jefferson Davis recorded in his Journal “I am at my wits end, what can be done now?….”
Lincoln’s plan for Emancipation and Reconstruction
President Abraham Lincoln
With the war having been going well for the Union for the past few months, Lincoln now saw an opportunity to move on the two crucial issues of the conflict, reintegrating the southern states into the Union and slavery.
In the beginning of the war Lincoln had been very reluctant to move against slavery for fear of upsetting the Border States. However, the resent string of Northern success had done much to silence voices of discontent in the Border States as well as the Copperheads in the North. Following the twin victories at Warrenton and Nashville, Lincoln, who was currently enjoying enormous public support for the conduct of the war, now felt in pertinent to make the his first steps towards abolishing slavery and restoring the Union. On September 1, 1862 Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Emancipation and Restoration of the Union (or P.E.R.U. to the millions of American school children who would have to memorize passages of it over the centuries). Lincoln had been working on and revising this since the darker days earlier that year. The Proclamation stated
"That on the first day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”
Portrait of Lincoln discussing the P.E.R.U with his cabinet.
Confederate states that were exempted from this Proclamation were Tennessee, Virginia, and Louisiana which were mostly under Union control. The Proclamation continued by stating that any state which is currently in rebellion that rejoined the Union by March 1, 1863 would be spared the effects of the Proclamation. The Proclamation spelled out the process by which states could rejoin the Union. 1) By having a majority of a state’s legislature take an Oath of Allegiance to the Government of the United States and repeal their ordinance of succession (expelling any politicians who did not take the oath) or 2) after 10% of a state’s population had taken the Oath of Allegiance form a new state government. The proclamation also stated that any citizen, with the exception of top tier Confederate government and military officials, would be unconditionally pardoned upon taking the Oath of Allegiance.
Lincoln’s reasoning for issuing this Proclamation was multifaceted. On the one hand it was mainly a military measure which was intended to sap the slave power on which the Confederacy operated. Lincoln continued to believe and maintain that the restoration of the Union was the chief aim of the War and that this proclamtion would only speed up the Union's victory. Secondly, it would cause even more splintering in the Confederate government and state governments as many politicians who had become disgruntled with the Davis administration might see this as a way out of the war. Thirdly, it would appease the more radical elements in his party who were begging for the President to deal with slavery. Lincoln doubted whether the Deep South would comply but believed that the Upper South would be seriously tempted by the proposition.
Slaves in a Union occupied portion of Louisiana, 1862.
Reaction to P.E.R.U. varied considerably. Fredrick Douglas cheered the proclamation as a step in the right direction. Other’s derided it as it only freed slaves that were outside Lincoln’s control. Democrat’s generally were appalled by the proclamation. They believed that Lincoln, yet again, had over stepped his constitutional authority. When news reached the South, Jefferson Davis lashed out at the Proclamation declaring that it was “intended to insight slave insurrection and the massacre of the white race.” The proclamation however greatly empowered Union sympathizers, conditional Unionists, and moderates who saw rejoining the Union as their last chance to save slavery in their states and avoid going down in flames with the now largely discredited Confederate Government.
General Lee’s Long Retreat
General Robert E. Lee
Late 20th Century Portrait
As the Army of the Potomac was licking its wounds following its costly victory at Warrenton, Lee wasted no time heading south to safety, in a series of maneuvers and battles that U.S. military officers would study for centuries to come. Lincoln was adamant that Sumner move swiftly and capture the remnants of Army of Northern Virginia. However, Sumner continuously underestimated General Lee who repeatedly bested Union efforts to capture his force for the next several weeks.
The chief Union blunder of this campaign was that as Lee fell back they did not concentrate their forces against him. Sumner only sent slightly more than half of his large army against Lee leaving the more mauled units in the north to recuperate. Lee was able to briefly re-liberate the city of Charlottesville, Virginia after he overran the small union force that had been sent to block his line of retreat. Later at the Battle of Lynchburg, General Lee was able to soundly repulse a Union attempt to capture his Army, allowing him to slip south over the James River.
In the end on October 1st, 1862 after traveling nearly 200 miles from Warrenton, Lee reached the relative safety of Danville, Virginia which he proceeded to fortify in earnest. President Jefferson Davis had ordered Lee to not proceed any further south than Danville as Davis believed it was paramount for the Confederacy to retain a presence in Virginia. Lee’s conduct during the past several weeks revealed him to be one of the ablest Southern commanders of the war. Indeed, in future years historians would often speculate what Confederate fortunes might have been had General Lee been given command of the Army of Northern Virginia earlier in the war before Union victories, such as Richmond, sapped Southern strength and morale.
Photograph of Confederate works under construction outside of Danville, Virginia
As winter approached, General Sumner, with his deteriorating health, accepted an offer President Lincoln had made weeks earlier. On October 7th, 1862 General Sumner relinquished command of the Army of the Potomac and headed to Washington to aid Lincoln as General in Chief of the Union Armies. Although his choice for a replacement was not without controversy amongst the other Union corps commanders, Sumner picked the man who replaced him as II Corp commander as the new leader of the Army of the Potomac, Major General John Sedgwick. Sedgwick had performed very well at the Battle of Warrenton and was popular with many officers in the Union Army. Sedgwick’s promotion would prove to be an important steppingstone to his political career after the War.
Maj. General John Sedwick (far right)
Army of the Potomac
1862 Midterm Elections, the Invasion of Eastern Tennessee, and the Investment of Vicksburg
Despite Lee’s resent victories in Virginia, the Republicans were rightfully confident as they moved into the November elections. In the elections the Republican Party increased their majorities in both the House and Senate. Republican gains however were less than predicted, possibly due to the survival of the Army of Northern Virginia and resentment by some over the P.E.R.U. Nonetheless, Lincoln saw these electoral successes as resounding support for the conduct of the war and as an endorsement for the P.E.R.U. Republican canidates also did well in many of the state elections.
Railroad Bridge acoss Platt Creek: Knoxville Tennessee, December 1862
Meanwhile in the Western Theater, Lincoln was on the verge of accomplishing one of his goals since the start of the war, the liberation of eastern Tennessee. The non-slave holding citizens of East Tennessee had overwhelmingly voted against succession in 1861. Lincoln had initially wished to liberate this mountainous portion of Tennessee and possible bring it into the Union as it’s on state, as had been done with West Virginia. However, by this point in the War most of western Tennessee had already been liberated and if the eastern part of the state could be redeemed than Tennessee stood a good chance of becoming the first southern state to return to the Union.
On November 19th, 1862, after leaving a sizable garrison in Nashville, the Union Army of the Ohio under General Henry Halleck moved towards Knoxville (Halleck had formally taken over command from General Buell weeks earlier due to Buell’s poor performance during the early stages of the Siege of Nashville and lack of pursuit of Johnston). Johnston’s Confederate Army of Tennessee was stationed in the ever increasingly fortified city of Chattanooga in the southern part of the state. Although Johnston was urged by Jefferson Davis to move north and intercept Halleck, Johnston was able to convince the Confederate President that it would be unwise for his battered force to move into a Unionist part of the state, in winter, to engage a superior Yankee force. Therefore, Johnston’s Army remained behind its works in Chattanooga. Nashville was liberated on Christmas Eve 1862. When word reached Lincoln on Christmas morning he replied that it was “with the exception of the infant Savior, the best Christmas present ever received.” With Nashville capture, eastern Tennessee was finally returned to Union control. Indeed the only part of the state that was still in Confederate hands was Chattanooga. As both armies settled into winter quarters, Unionist elements in Tennessee were making plans on their state’s return to the Union.
Maj. General Ulysses S. Grant
Army of the Tennessee
Meanwhile in Mississippi, the Army of the Tennessee under Major General Ulysses S. Grant was making steady progress towards the Confederate strongpoint of Vicksburg. On December 29th, 1862 at the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs Confederate Lt. General John C. Pemberton was able to hold off a Union force nearly three times its size for almost 10 hours against the determined advances of Maj. General William T. Sherman. Although the victory was a tactical Confederate success Pemberton was forced to retire under the protection of Vicksburg’s defenses. Pemberton had in the months leading up to the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs been having an increasingly difficult time recruiting and retaining his Confederate troops due the string of Southern defeats in other theaters of the war. Pemberton also felt that his supplies had been unfairly redirected east to prop up the collapsing Tennessee and Virginia fronts. In the days following the battle Grant’s forces began to besiege this all important city to determine who would control the mighty Mississippi River.
Brief Overview of the Military Situation
January 1st, 1863
United States of America
Capital: Washington D.C.
Major Union Armies
Army of the Potomac: Commanded by Major Gen. John Sedgwick. Currently occupying most of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Army of the Tennessee: Commanded by Major Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Currently besieging Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Army of the Ohio: Commanded by Major Gen. Henry Halleck. Currently occupying most of Tennessee.
Army of the Gulf: Commanded by Major Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. Currently occupying the southern half of Louisiana.
The United States Navy has undergone a dramatic expansion since the start of the war. Naval gunboats are currently heavily engaged on the Mississippi River in the offensive against Vicksburg and in actions in Louisiana. The Union Navy is ever increasingly tightening its blockade on the Southern coastline.
Confederate States of America
Capital: Greensboro, North Carolina (President Davis and much of the War Department resided at the time in Danville, Virginia along with the Confederate Virginia State Government).
Major Confederate Armies
Army of Northern Virginia: Commanded by General Robert E. Lee. Currently in Danville, Virginia.
Army of Tennessee: Commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston. Previously known as the Army of Mississippi. Currently defending Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Vicksburg Defenses: Commanded by Lt. General John C. Pemberton. Currently besieged in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The Confederate Navy is mostly concerned with protecting blockade runners in bringing in much needed supplies to the South. Southern Naval forces are slowly but surely being eliminated as the greater industrial potential of the North takes its toll. Confederate commerce raiders such as the CSS Alabama (which narrowly avoided being impounded in England by the British government) are making a name for themselves by harassing Union shipping in the Atlantic.
The South’s Winter of Discontent
Confederate States of America
As the War entered its second winter the political situation in the Confederate States of America was deteriorating at an alarming pace. The South had introduced conscription in 1862 to shore up its manpower shortage. As Confederate fortunes declined in the second half of 1862 the central government ever increasingly drew men and supplies form the various Southern states. Jefferson Davis’s heavy handed approach coupled with his apparently disastrous handling of the war so far began to form fissures in the Confederate political establishment. Those that opposed Davis’s centralizing policies include several Southern state governors who resented their men and supplies being sent out of state. The most prominent of which were Joseph Brown, Zebulon Vance, and Pendleton Murrah the Governors of Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas respectively. Another prominent Southern dissenter against the Davis administration was none other than Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens from Georgia.
Southern opponents to the Davis Administration
(from left to right; VP Stephens, Gov. Vance, Gov. Brown, and Gov. Murrah)
In early January 1863, Jefferson Davis called a series of meetings with prominent Confederate leaders in the Southern capital of Greensboro. Those present included Davis’s Cabinet, Alexander Stephens, Confederate congressional leadership, representatives from certain state governments, and military leaders including General Robert E. Lee. At these meetings, now known to historians as the Winter Conferences, Davis was deeply disturbed by the defeatist attitudes of many of the political leaders. Davis believed that although the South had suffered alarming setbacks in the past months the cause was not lost. If the full might of the South’s resources could be effectively pooled, the Confederate President continued to maintain, the Confederacy could reverse its recent defeats and grind the North down until the Union was forced to recognize Southern independence.
Therefore at the end of these Winter Conferences, in order to shore up the depleted Confederate ranks Jefferson Davis in late January, 1863 began lobbying for what became known as the Davis-Seddon Act which called for increased conscription, allowed for the suppression of seditious talk and media, and granted the Confederate government increased powers in procuring supplies from the various Southern states. This proposal sparked enormously hostile debate in the Confederate Congress and the various state governments as many politicians balked at the idea of rendering more men and supplies to the central government while their own states appeared to be on the verge of invasion. Indeed it seemed to challenge the very notion of state’s rights that the Confederacy was founded upon. As events would show the proposed Davis-Seddon Act would be one of the steppingstones that would eventually lead to what some historians would refer to as the “Confederate Civil War.”
Lincoln’s Plan for Victory
United States of America
As the Jefferson Davis was making his plans during these quieter winter months so was Lincoln. In January, 1863 President Lincoln devised the North’s plan to win the war with advise from, General in Chief Sumner, Secretary or War Stanton, Secretary of the Navy Welles, and even General Sedgwick who was called up from Richmond,. With reports of Southern political turmoil over conscription and Davis’s handling of the war Lincoln believed that, as soon as possible, all of the Union’s armies should move against their Confederate counterparts. This simultaneous pressure all along the borders of the Confederacy would, Lincoln hoped, make the best use of the North’s superiority in numbers and not allow the Confederacy to use its interior lines to shuffle troops from front to front.
Lincoln’s intentions were to try and peel off the states of the Upper South, and Texas if possible, and bring them back into the Union first as they had the largest numbers of unionist citizens and therefore more apt to rejoin the Union. The decision to move into Texas an Arkansas however was not very popular with many in the Union military. Sumner and Stanton argued that with Vicksburg likely to fall soon, Arkansas and Texas would be cut off and could be left to wither on the vine. Lincoln however believed that with these states cut off from the Confederacy they would be more likely to rejoin the Union, especially if they could be liberated before the P.E.R.U. freed their slaves. Lincoln was also adamant about establishing a presence in Texas to send a signal to the French troops in Mexico that, as Lincoln put it to an aide, “they ain’t welcome in this hemisphere.”
The plan was as follows. Butler’s Army of the Gulf would push north, taking Port Hudson on the Mississippi and liberate the rest of Louisiana. Following this Butler would turn west and push into Texas. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee, after taking Vicksburg some time in this winter, would split up. Two Corps under the command of Maj. General William T. Sherman, later known as the Army of the Mississippi, would move into Arkansas where unionist sympathies were believed to be on the rise. Grant aided by reinforcements from the north would head east and take central Mississippi. Meanwhile, Halleck would take his Army of the Ohio liberate Chattanooga, and then push on and capture the key railroad junction of the City of Atlanta. Sedgwick, with the Union’s largest army, would move against Lee at Danville, and then on to the Confederate capital in Greensboro. Together, so it was thought, these offensives would finish liberating the states of Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, take most of Texas and Arkansas, and for the second time capture the Confederate capital. In short, if successful the war could be over in a matter of months.
Tennessee Returns to the Union
As the wintering armies made their preparations for the upcoming military offensives, Tennessee politicians were busy launching their offensive to return to the Union. On January 29, 1863 unionist politicians held a convention in Nashville to discuss their state’s future. Most of the Confederate Tennessee State Legislature boycotted the convention and remained in Chattanooga under the protection of Johnston’s Army of Tennessee. However, enough of the population according to the Proclamation of Emancipation and the Restoration Union (P.E.R.U.) had taken the oath of allegiance (mostly citizens from eastern Tennessee) to form a new state government.
As all present were Republicans or Unionist Democrats the main discussion was not whether to return to the Union, but whether to return to it as a Slave or Free State. The debate raged for three days until finally a compromise was struck. Tennessee would petition to return as a slave state, but with a provision in the state’s new proposed constitution that would abolish slavery by January 1st, 1865. Slave-owners who took the oath of allegiance to the United States and the new state government could receive finical compensation from the Federal Government. The State of Delaware had adopted a similar gradual compensated emancipation plan by a slim margin a few months earlier. Andrew Johnson (D) the current military governor of Tennessee and the only southern senator to have remained loyal to the United States was, in a surprising move, elected provisional governor by the Republican controlled assembly. This was probably an effort to win back wayward Tennessee Democrats.
Provisional Governor of Tennessee
When Tennessee’s petition, reached Congress there was a serious chance that the Republican dominated body might reject it because it would be tantamount to readmitting a slave state. However moderate Republicans, Democrats, and support from the Lincoln administration was able to secure its passage. Therefore on February 15, 1863 Tennessee became the first Confederate State to rejoin the Union.
When news reached Jefferson Davis, he lambasted it as an “illegitimate attempt by abolitionists and rabble-rousers to subvert a Southern state to Northern tyranny” as did many in the Deep South. However, in other parts of the Upper South, such as Virginia and Arkansas, moderates saw it as a practical compromise and continued to make their own plans for their states’ restoration to the Union.
The Fall of Vicksburg
Artisit depiction of the Siege of Vicksburg
Early February, 1863
Ulysses S Grant’s Army of the Tennessee had been pounding away at the Confederate defenses for over a month. Grant’s forces at this point had swollen to 80,000 men. Meanwhile Confederate Lt. Gen. Permberton’s troop strength had been reduced to a mere 27,000 and his men were running dangerously low of artillery shells.
From February 14-16, the Union army blasted the Confederate works with over 200 pieces of artillery. This barrage was supplemented from the river by Rear Admiral Porter’s gunboats. On the evening of February17th, Grant ordered an assault against the northern Vicksburg defenses which were easily repulsed. Undeterred, Grant ordered two more assaults on the 18th and 20th which meet with similar failure.
Following these failures, Grant began to prepare for a new assault to be led by Maj. General William T. Sherman and his XV Corps. This assault was to be preceded by a feint in the south by Maj. General John Parke’s IX Corps. While Confederate attentions were distracted to the south, Sherman’s forces, after a ferocious but short artillery barrage were to advance in loose formation, taking advantage of all possible cover, and seize a section of the Confederate northern defenses. On the evening of February 20th the assault was carried out and was successful in making a hole in the Confederate lines.
Elements of Sherman's XV Corps overwhelming the Confederate lines.
February 20th, 1863
On the following day, General Grant offered terms to the battered Confederates. If they surrendered their arms and swore never to fight against the government of the United States they would be paroled. With the breach in the Confederate lines and the near depletion of their ammunition General Pemberton was forced to agree. The city and defenses of Vicksburg surrendered the next day on February 22nd, 1863. Port Hudson, Vicksburg’s Louisianan counterpart would surrender to Maj. General Butler’s Army of the Gulf five days later when news of Vicksburg fall reached the poorly supplied Confederate garrison. Together, the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson in February 1863 finally returned control of the continent’s greatest river to the United States.
The Danville Campaign
the Surrender of Robert. E. Lee
Union Seige Gun on the outskirts of Danville, Virginia
Since October of 1862, the Armies of the Potomac and of Northern Virginia had done little more than skirmish with each other. Lee’s forces had turned the countryside around Danville into a proverbial fortress with a series of forts, redoubts, and defensive positions ringing the city and protecting the railway which served as the cities lifeline to the rest of the Confederacy. Sedgwick’s army had been preoccupied for most of the winter with suppressing guerrilla bands and occupying the lion’s share of Virginia.
Starting on the Ides of March, components of the Army of the Potomac started making their way south. Altogether, these forces totaled 125,000 men. However, tens of thousands of these were used for logistical support and securing the army’s lines of communications. Behind the formidable Danville trenches laid Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia with only 50,000 men under arms. As with Lee’s spectacular escape and evasion following the Battle of Warrenton, his conduct in the Danville Campaign against the Union’s far superior numbers would cement his reputation as one of the top Confederate commanders of the war, despite never actually winning a campaign.
The first battle of the campaign accured when forward Confederate elements ambushed a reconnaissance detachment of Union cavalry at Halifax, Virginia on March 23rd, 1863. As would be the story for most of the campaign, Southern forces performed well, until superior Union numbers forced their withdrawal due to fear of encirclement. In a similar fashion on April 1st at the Battle of South Boston, a town about 30 miles east of Danville, Confederates under the immediate command of General James Longstreet held up nearly twice their number for two days until Union cavalry threatened to cut off his line of retreat. On April 3rd, Union forces north of Danville at the Battle of Dry Fork were able to evict the Confederate garrison only after a costly assault.
By April 20th, 1863 Major General John Sedgwick’s Army of the Potomac had encircled nearly 75% of the Danville defenses. The remaining open 25% included the railroad to the south which served as the city’s lifeline to the rest Confederacy. The Confederates were doing their utmost to keep the railway open through a series of counter attacks and flanking movements by Southern cavalry to draw off Union forces. For the next 30 days Federal forces continued to close the vise of Danville. By the first of May, the Confederate Virginia politicians who had taken refuge in the city during the winter had all fled to North Carolina, as had most other Confederate officials. The notable exception being President Jefferson Davis, who, much to the annoyance of General Lee, was determined to remain in the city as long as possible. On May 20th, 1863 General Lee informed President Davis that he must leave the city as the window for escape was closing fast. Lee informed Davis that he and many of his fellow Virginians would stay behind and perform a rearguard action as he and units from other states escaped towards Greenville, NC. Davis seeing the writing on the wall reluctantly accepted.
On May 21st, Davis and a sizeable number of the remaining Confederate soldiers under General Richard H. Anderson of South Carolina managed to leave Danville and slip into the relative safety of North Carolina. On May 23rd, Danville’s railway was cut by Union troops and the city completely surrounded. Two days later on May 25th, 1863 and only hours before the Union was to launch a massive assault against the city, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Sedgwick at his HQ at Patterson’s Farmhouse. Thus, the Commonwealth of Virginia was now entirely back in the control of the United States.
Artist depiction of Patterson's Farmhouse. Now a museum in Danville Civil War Sate Park.
Aftermath of the Battle
The roughly 18,000 troops that were captured in Danville were paroled. This number included General Lee who was surprised and deeply touched by General Sedgwick’s benevolence. This started a close friendship between Sedgwick and Lee that would last until Lee’s death several years later (Sedgwick would serve as one of Lee’s pallbearers).
Meanwhile, Virginia politicians had been meeting in Richmond for much of the campaign and were hotly debating whether Virginia should return to the Union as one or two states. News of Lee’s surrender did much to break the legislative deadlock. By a three vote margin Virginia voted to return to the Union as a single state. Exempt form the P.E.R.U.’s provisions on slavery, Virginia opted for compensated gradual emancipation in much the same way as Delaware, Tennessee, and Louisiana had (Louisiana became the second Southern state to return to the Union in early May 1863). Virginia set June 1st, 1866 as its date for complete emancipation. Virginia’s proposal for readmission was narrowly accepted by Congress a few weeks later.
Jefferson Davis, now in Greenville, NC with the rest of the disintegrating Confederate government, began to realize for the first time that the war was lost. However, Davis was a man of strong conviction and could not bring himself to contemplate capitulation and so the war continued on…for now.
The Trans-Mississippi Theater
Sherman’s March through Arkansas
Maj. General William T. Sherman on horseback in Arkansas
After the fall of Vicksburg on the 22nd of February, 1863 Grant as planned divided his forces. Two corps totally roughly 24,000 men under the command of Maj. General William T. Sherman headed northeast into the Confederate held Arkansas. Sherman entered Arkansas roughly a month after the P.E.R.U. had freed all the slaves in the state. Therefore, as Sherman advanced towards his objective, the state capital in Little Rock, his army (now known as the Army of the Mississippi) became one of the first Union armies to start emancipating the newly freed slaves.
Sherman’s march through Arkansas is also noteworthy in the way he managed his logistics. Instead of maintain a long and precarious supply train from the Mississippi River, Sherman decided that his forces could “live off the fat of the land” on the unspoiled Arkansas countryside. This was a dangerous move to conduct so early in the spring, and the Union forces procurement of local food and fodder angered many. Although many Arkansas residents curse Sherman’s name to this day the actual damage done by his army was minimal and mostly fell on Confederate loyalists and wealthy slave holders.
In order to defend the state capital Confederate General Sterling Price began amassing his forces in Little Rock. Sherman’s rapid advance through the state however gave Price little time to properly fortify the city or train his new recruits, many of which had been harshly pressed into service. On May 2nd, 1863 Sherman’s Army of the Mississippi engaged Price’s Army of Missouri in the Battle of Little Rock. General Price was mortally wounded by Union artillery early in the battle, and chaos reigned as the Confederate troops who were rushed to the battle fled their still unfinished trenches. The next morning, Sherman triumphantly entered the city. The raising of the Stars and Stripes over the statehouse was accompanied by the singing of the Battle Cry of Freedom by local unionists, who had remained dormant since the start of the war but who were now cropping up in ever greater numbers.
After the fall of Port Hudson, Maj. General Butler with his Army of the Gulf started Lincoln’s long awaited invasion of Texas. Unfortunately for the North the campaign would end in one of the worst Union defeats of the War. Beginning on April 29, 1863 the two day Battle of Carthage (that is Carthage, Texas) saw Butler’s forces soundly defeated by the numerically inferior Army of Western Louisiana under Maj. General Richard Taylor. Butler was forced to retreat back into Louisiana, were Lincoln promptly relieved him of command, replacing him with Maj. General Nathaniel P. Banks. Back in Louisiana, Banks waited on Sherman to complete his campaign so they could combine forces and make a second attempt at invading Texas. This defeat was a major setback for pro-Union elements in Texas and was a serious factor in Texas remaining in the Confederacy.
Maj. General Nathaniel P. Banks
Army of the Gulf
Halleck in Tennessee
Grant in Mississippi
April – June, 1863
The Battle of Chattanooga and the Invasion of Georgia
On April 1st, 1863 Maj. General Henry Halleck with his 47,000 man Army of the Ohio began its movement against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s 28,000 man strong Army of Tennessee which had spent the winter fortifying the city of Chattanooga. Johnston’s Army had been severely weakened due to President Jefferson Davis siphoning troops away from the army to be sent to General Lee in Virginia or to General P.G.T. Beauregard’s new Army of Mississippi (not to be confused with Sherman’s Army of the Mississippi) which was being formed to defend Jackson, Mississippi from Grant’s invading army. In the ensuing campaign Johnston proved to be a master of defense. However, as the Confederacy was being pressed in all theatres by superior Union numbers and internally by the ever widening schisms in the Southern political establishment Johnston was never able to concentrate enough forces to repel Halleck’s advancing army.
The Battle of Chattanooga began on April 16th, 1863 when the Army of the Ohio began bombarding Johnston’s defenses. Johnston was able to stall Halleck’s assaults through a series of well organize counterattacks that always seemed to shore up the Confederate lines just as they were about to break. However, when news of Lee’s surrender at Danville reached Johnston’s HQ he knew that his days in Chattanooga were numbered as vast Union reinforcements would soon be on their way to encircle his dwindling army. On June 2nd, 1863 Johnston withdrew from Chattanooga towards Georgia with Halleck’s army in hot pursuit. Johnston’s plan was to take advantage of the hilly north Georgia countryside and fight a series of defensive battles as he fell back towards Atlanta along the Chattanooga-Atlanta railway.
Chattanooga after being set onfire by retreating Confederates
June 2nd, 1863
Before the Confederates left however, they set fire to many of the militarily important buildings in the city. Unfortunately for the citizens of Chattanooga the fire quickly spread and soon ravished the majority of the already battered city. The burning of Chattanooga was significant as it was one of the few cities to be so utterly destroyed during the course of the war. Furthermore the city's apparent destruction at the hands of Confederate troops sent shockwaves throughout the South that the Confederacy would now do anything to prevent its cities from falling into Yankee hands. This strengthened the already growing peace faction in the South who saw quickly ending the war as their only chance for survival.
Grant in Mississippi
Army of Mississippi
As Sherman was advancing on Little Rock and Butler was blundering into Texas, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was pushing east towards Jackson, Mississippi with his 40,000 man Army of the Tennessee. Jackson, the state capital, was defended by Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard of Louisiana who could only muster less than 25,000 troops many of which were state militia. Beauregard had distinguished himself in the early days of the war, but his reputation had steadily declined as the war progressed. Now, with Mississippi threatened, President Davis was rushing troops from other theaters to defend his native state.
The Battle of Jackson took place on April 7th, 1863. During the battle General Grant decisively defeated Beauregard’s army which was still in the process of forming. To his credit, when it became clear that the more numerous and better equipped Union army was going to emerge victorious, General Beauregard withdrew his troops in good order and headed east towards Alabama. Grant, as was his fashion, followed closely on Beauregard’s heels. Grant’s pursuit of Beauregard became known as “The Great Dixie Derby” due to the unusually fast rate at which the armies moved.
The Confederate Government flees Greensboro
An artist's stylized depiction of the Confederate capital's return to Montgomery, AL (1863)
After Lee’s surrender at Danville, General Sedgwick (who had recently been promoted to General in Chief after General Sumner’s resignation due to poor health) wasted no time in heading south to capture the Confederate capital at Greensboro, North Carolina. Jefferson Davis realized that General Richard H. Anderson’s Army of the Carolinas, formally the Army of Northern Virginia, was in no condition to defend the city and the capital would have to be moved. Unlike earlier in the war, many Southern governors now saw harboring the Confederate Government more as a liability than an asset. Atlanta or another city in North Carolina were ruled out due to the hostility of Governors Brown and Vance who respectively claimed that the central government should as Brown put it “find another place to end its days.” Davis suggested that the capital be moved to either Charleston or Columbia, South Carolina until news came that Charleston had been captured by a Union Army/Navy Taskforce under the command of Maj. General Quincy Gillmore on June 5th. Therefore the remaining members of the Confederate Congress decided to return the capital to Montgomery, Alabama and abandoned Greensboro to the advancing Union Army on June 7th, 1863.
General Anderson with his Army of the Carolinas, which now numbered only 21,000 men, planned on moving around Sedgwick’s Army of the Potomac and wreaking havoc in the Union’s rear, possible even reinvading Virginia. However, General Sedgwick’s superior numbers allowed him to block Anderson at every turn forcing him to fall back further and further.
The Confederate Civil War
What many Civil War historians call “The Confederate Civil War” began in earnest on June 15th, 1863 when in a surprising move Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens confronted President Davis in his makeshift office in Montgomery. Stephens claimed that the war was lost and that Davis should either sue for peace with Lincoln or resign as President. Jefferson Davis, whose relationship with Stephens was already severely strained, was deeply troubled at what he took to be treasonous comments from his Vice President. Davis stated that he had sworn to uphold the Confederate Constitution and would do so for as long as he was able. Stephens then replied that if that was Davis’s answer he would be left with no choice but to urge Congress to impeach Davis.
The legality of impeaching Davis, presumably because of his abysmal conduct in running the war, was and has been hotly debated to this day. The Constitution of the Confederate States of America maintains that the President may be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." Davis believed that the impeachment charges that he was brought up on were, at the very least baseless and more likely open treason against the Commander and Chief during wartime. For the next four days the Confederate capital was, in what some historians call “The Battle of Montgomery” the scene of passionate debates, street battles, and a race as both Davis and Stephens’s supporters clamored for votes (and even moved troops into the city) to support their respective causes. However on June 19th, Davis, by a slim margin received enough votes to stop from being removed as President of the Confederacy
News of the “Battle of Montgomery” did much to discredit the Confederate government else wear in the South. As the Army of the Potomac was chasing Anderson’s forces across the state, Governor of North Carolina Zebulon Vance, a long time critic of Jefferson Davis, asked the state legislature to secede from the Confederacy. This was do to the central government’s apparent inability to defend the state and in an effort to stave off further destruction. On, June 23rd, 1863 the state narrowly passed its second ordinance of secession in three years. Georgia followed North Carolina out of the Confederacy three days later. As such, Georgia and North Carolina troops started leaving the Confederate armies in droves.
The Surrender of Anderson and Johnston
Gen. Richard H. Anderson
Army of the Carolinas
With North Carolina and Georgia now technically out of the Confederacy, the Confederate armies positions within those states became untenable. Through a double envelopment General Sedgwick was able to trap Anderson’s army outside of Salisbury, NC on June 27th. Anderson was forced to surrender his battered and starving forces two days later.
Meanwhile in Georgia, Halleck’s Army of the Ohio inflicted a crippling defeat on Johnston’s dwindling Army of Tennessee at Resaca on June 29th. The devastating news of Anderson’s surrender in North Carolina reached Johnston the next day. This information along with the fact that the Georgia government would no longer supply his forces made Johnston surrender his deserting army on July 1st, 1863.
The Impeachment of Jefferson Davis and the End of the Confederacy
2nd President of the Confederate States of America
July 3-4, 1863
The succession of North Carolina and Georgia, coupled by the twin dissolutions of the Confederate armies of the Carolinas and Tennessee was the last straw for the Davis administration. On July 3rd, 1863 the Confederate Congress formally impeached and removed Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy. Alexander Stephens was sworn in as the second and last Confederate President at noon in a somber and sad ceremony. On the same afternoon news reached President Stephens that General Grant had finally caught up with and captured P.G.T. Beauregard’s Army of Mississippi only 50 miles west of Montgomery during the costly Battle of Selma.
In light on the disastrous developments of the past two weeks (or perhaps more appropriately the past 14 months since the fall of Richmond), President Alexander Stephens and the remaining members of Congress officially dissolved the Confederate States of America in a tearful cession at 10:00am on July 4th, 1863 as the Star and Bars was lowered for the last time from over the city. When news reached the North later that day, it sparked off the greatest Independence Day celebrations that the nation had ever seen. In a torch light speech delivered to an audience on the Whitehouse lawn President Abraham Lincoln stated that “the Almighty God has seen fit to bless us with victory in this great civil war, but it will be up to us to win the peace.”
Confederate States of America
February 8, 1861 - July 4, 1863
The Immediate Aftermath of the War
the Start of Reconciliation
Artist depiction of Confederate forces surrendering their colors
Following the dissolution of the Confederacy in early July the rest of the South not already subjugated fell to the North in rapid succession. The advancing Union armies wasted no time occupying the state capitals not already under their control. On their way Federal forces enforced the P.E.R.U, freeing hundreds of thousands of slaves in a matter of weeks. The State of Texas, which had remained basically free of Union troops during the war, was the last Southern state to be occupied. When General Sherman’s army arrived in the state capital of Austin at the end of July Sherman proclaimed that under the P.E.R.U all slaves in Texas were now and forever free. For this reason July 29th is often celebrated as Emancipation Day in many parts of the United States.
Throughout the South, the defeated Confederate forces were almost invariable paroled after their military munitions had been confiscated. The few exceptions were top military and political leaders such as Jefferson Davis who was arrested by Ulysses S. Grant’s forces as the former confederate president was making his way home to Mississippi. Davis would spend several months in prison before eventually being pardoned by President Lincoln. Davis, who was still immensely unpopular in the South for his conduct in managing the war, went into exile in Europe for the rest of his life. Jefferson Davis would die in London in 1873 of phenomena never having returned to the United States. Other former Confederate generals and politicians, such as Alexander Stephens, would spend short times in prison before being released. Many of these leaders would be banned from voting or holding elected office for the rest of their lives.
In what would become known as Reconciliation, Lincoln outlined his top priorities for the post-war United States. 1) The return of all Southern states still outside of the Union under his 10 percent plan, 2) Ensure that the P.E.R.U is enforced in the Deep South, 3) Complete the compensated emancipation of slaves in the Border States and Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana, and 4) Establish a new Homestead Act that would provide land grants to settlers (including freed slaves) in the western territories. It is also worth noting that with the war now over Lincoln began the movement of troops to the Rio Grande under General Sherman to send a message to the French forces, who had recently captured the Mexican capital, that their presence was not welcomed.
A Union victory parade in Washington D.C.
late July, 1863
In the end, the American Civil War proved to be the costliest war in American history up to that time, resulting in an estimated 315,000 deaths both North and South. Property damage although significant was relatively light considering the scoop of the war. Indeed of all Southern cities, Chattanooga stands out as the most damaged of the war, while other major urban centers such as Richmond, Atlanta, and New Orleans emerged from the conflict mostly unscathed. Slavery was virtually destroyed by the war. With the institution only remaining in a strip of states in the center of the country, all of which with plans for complete emancipation within a few years.
French withdraw from Mexico
Emperor of the French, Napoleon III
October 1863-January 1864
The French, along with the British and Spanish, had invaded Mexico in early 1862 with the stated intention to force Mexico to pay debts owed to the European Powers. It soon became apparent to the British and Spaniards though that the Second French Empire under Emperor Napoleon III was actually intent on conquering the Latin American country. Accordingly, Britain and Spain withdrew from Mexico a few months later. Unfortunately for the reformist government of Mexican President Benito Juarez, the French stayed and were able to successful capture the Mexican capital in June of 1863.
With the Civil War now won, President Lincoln was adamant that France’s violation of the Monroe Doctrine would not stand. Lincoln, having already moved thousands of Federal troops to the Mexican border, ordered a naval blockade in October of 1863 to block the arrival of French reinforcements. This blockade, coupled with Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian’s earlier rejection of an offer to be made Emperor of Mexico, forced the French Emperor to rethink his intentions. Bereft of British and Spanish assistance Napoleon III realized that he could not risk a war with the United States whose army and navy were still swollen from the Civil War.
In light of what was widely viewed to be a situation that would only deteriorate for the French, Napoleon III made the decision to get out while he was ahead. In a deal mediated by the United States in January of 1864, it was agreed that French troops would be withdrawn if President Benito Juarez would promise to honor Mexico’s debts to France. With French forces occupying Mexico City, and therefore little room to maneuver politically, President Juarez reluctantly accepted.
This agreement allowed all sides to claim victory. France had achieved it stated war aim, although it was far short of Napoleon III’s real desire to build a New World Empire, and showed that Napoleonic France was a major world power able to project itself anywhere in the world. Lincoln successfully upheld the Monroe doctrine and earned himself additional political capital as he moved towards reelection. In the end Mexico was liberated and President Juarez was able to consolidate his power from the conservatives who had backed the French.
Despite all sides apparently achieving their goals this near-conflict caused considerable tension in Franco-American relations. Historians would often point to this as the beginning of a Franco-American hostility that would last well into the twentieth century. Mexican-American relations however were improved by Lincoln’s stand against the French, furthering the United States’ reputation as, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin once said, the “Defender of the Hemisphere.”
The Second Term of Abraham Lincoln
1864 President Election
Incumbent Abraham Lincoln headed into the 1864 Presidential elections with a commanding lead being at the time one of the most popular Presidents in American history due to his successful completion of the war and forcing France’s withdraw from Mexico. As such Lincoln was unanimously nominated as the presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention in Baltimore. At the convention there was considerable talk of dropping Vice President Hannibal Hamlin from the ticket. Major General Sedgwick was mentioned as a possible replacement but Sedgwick decided instead to run for the governorship of Connecticut, which he easily won. In the end, Hamlin was left on to appease the more radical elements in the Republican Party although some radical republicans decided to back John C. Freemont as a third party candidate.
Presidential Canidate (D)
The Democrats at their national convention had considerable difficulty in finding a suitable candidate for President. Andrew Johnson the current Governor of Tennessee seemed to be a good choice, but Johnson made it clear that he would not run against the man that “saved my beloved Union”. Johnson also probably realized that Lincoln was almost certainly going to win reelection. After much debate the Democrats finally nominated former New York Governor Horatio Seymour for President. Lazarus W. Powell, a former Governor and current Senator from the state of Kentucky was chosen as the Vice Presidential nominee.
As predicted, Lincoln easily won reelection to a second term. Seymour carried only the former Confederate States allowed to vote and Kentucky (Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Florida did not participate as they would not fully return to the Union until 1865 due to their proposed state governments not meeting the standards of the Republican controlled Congress). Lincoln’s reelection was seriously aided by the huge number of Union war veterans who would be a main source of support for the Republicans for decades to come.
Reconciliation was Lincoln’s primary concern during his second term. By November of 1865 all the former Confederate States had successfully been readmitted into the Union, with South Carolina being the last to rejoin. Union troops however still occupied much of the South to protect the newly freed black population and prevent any lingering Confederate sentiments from reigniting the conflict.
Compromise of 1865: One of the planks in Lincoln’s campaign platform was for a constitutional amendment to officially ban slavery in the United States. However, three-fourths of the state legislatures would be needed to ratify the amendment. This meant that some sort of deal would have to be struck with the southern states in order to gain their votes. Thus, in what sometimes is termed as the compromise of 1865, it was agreed that Federal troops would be removed from most of the South once the southern states had ratified the thirteenth amendment.
13th Amendment: The thirteenth amendment to the constitution was ratified on December 3rd, 1865 stating…
Sec. 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction, after June 1, 1867.
Sec. 2: Congress, in conjunction with the states, shall have power to enforce earlier emancipation, or to provide recompense for emancipation, prior to June 1, 1867, upon due consideration of the subject's participation in rebellion against the Constitution of the United States.
Sec. 3: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
June 1st, 1867 was chosen as the date for final emancipation so that the few remaining slave states would have time to complete their earlier agreed upon timetables for gradual compensated emancipation.
Homestead Act of 1865: The Homestead Act of 1865 was another of the Lincoln administration’s crowning achievements. This act provided 40 acres and supplies to start up a small farm to any single man or family who would uproot and settle in the United States’ western territories. This offer also applied to the recently free, or soon to be free, blacks of the former Confederacy. Over the next two and half decades millions of American citizens would take the trek west including a large number of blacks. In years to come these significant numbers of African American landowners in the western states would play an important role in the Civil Rights movement of the twentieth century.
Alaska Purchase: In 1867, Lincoln reluctantly authorized Secretary of State William H. Seward to purchase Alaska from the Russian Empire for 7.5 million dollars. Although Lincoln was not a big proponent of American expansion, the near war with France over Mexico taught Lincoln that the less territory the Europeans held in the New World the better.
Transcontinental Railroad: Besides the admission of Nebraska into the Union on the 15th of December, 1866 the other big development in the west was the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad. This cross continental railway was officially completed on October 23rd, 1868. (It is worth mentioning that the popular urban legend that Lincoln drove in the golden spike to complete the railroad is false as can be seen in the photograph below).
Completion of the Trancontintal Railroad
October 23, 1868
Lincoln’s second term was focused primarily of domestic issues but it is worth mentioning a few points concerning European developments. In Europe the Kingdom of Prussia triumphed over the Empire of Austria in a brief war in 1866. This victory, coupled with that over Denmark in 1864, sent shock waves through the continent that Prussia was a power to be dealt with.
However, following Prussia’s victory in the Austro-Prussian War Prussian Chancellor Otto Van Bismarck was unable to forge an alliance with their defeated foe after Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I was assassinated by the deranged father of a fallen Austrian soldier in the streets of Vienna on November 29th, 1866. Franz Joseph was succeeded to the throne by his younger brother Ferdinand Maximilian who was crowned Emperor Maximilian I. Unlike his older brother, Maximilian I favored forming an alliance against the emerging power of Prussia. Soon after his coronation the new emperor established an alliance with Napoleon III of France (It has been speculated that Napoleon III and Maximilian's friendship might have been aided by the rumor that Maximilian was actually fathered by Napoleon II during his time in Austria). This Franco-Austrian Alliance would become a fixture in European politics for decades to come.
Emperor of Austria
The 1868 Presidential Election
An old wartime photograph of John Sedgwick
17th President of the United States
Although Abraham Lincoln’s popularity waned somewhat during his last years of office, most historians still believe he could have won reelection for President a second time. However, Lincoln decided to honor Washington’s precedent and not run for a third term. The declining health of his wife Mary Todd Lincoln might also have contributed to Lincoln’s desire to retire from political life.
At the 1868 Republican National Convention former Major General and General in Chief of the Union Armies John Sedgwick was selected as the Republican’s presidential candidate. Sedgwick, the current Republican Governor of Connecticut, easily obtained his party’s nomination without any serious opposition. For Vice President the Grand Old Party nominated the former and first Republican Governor of Virginia Arthur Ingram Boreman, in an attempt to show that the Republican Party was making headway in the Upper South.
Arthur I. Boreman (VA)
16th Vice President of the United States
The Democrats re-nominated Horatio Seymour of New York to be their presidential nominee. For Vice President however, the popular governor of Tennessee, Andrew Johnson was selected as Seymour’s running mate.
The election results of 1868 closely mirrored those of 1864. The Republicans carried all of the northern states as well as the western states of California, Oregon, and Nevada. Seymour delivered much the same performance as he did four years earlier except that Kentucky narrowly went for the Republicans. It is also worth noting that although Virginia’s electoral votes went for Seymour, the Republican Party was able to capture a significant portion of the popular vote, including virtually all of the mountainous western part of the state. In the end, John Sedgwick was soundly elected the 17th President of the United States.
Lincoln after the Whitehouse
One of Lincoln’s last acts while in office was his long awaited trip to the west coast. Lincoln arrived in San Francisco by way of the newly completed transcontinental railroad on a bitterly cold January morning in 1869, making Lincoln the first sitting President to see the Pacific Ocean.
After President Sedgwick’s inauguration, Lincoln retired to his home in Springfield, Illinois. There Lincoln would write his memoirs which became an international bestseller and to this day considered by many historians to be one of the best Presidential memoirs ever written. In the later years of his life Lincoln would often express regret that he did not press for more sweeping reforms during Reconciliation for former slaves. Lincoln would stay active until his death, writing books and going on several well publicized speaking tours throughout the United States and Europe. Abraham Lincoln passed away in his Springfield home at the age of 78 on July 4th, 1887, the same day of the year as Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Lincoln’s funeral was one of the largest in American history a fitting capstone to one of the country's greatest presidents.
Abraham Lincoln's Home
The Sedgwick Presidency (1868-1876)
37 Star Flag adopted after Colorado joined the Union in 1874
The Presidency of John Sedgwick is remembered as one of national healing, industrialization, and settling the western frontier. Sedgwick had a strong reputation for honesty which often put him at odds with many of the career politicians of his day. Listed below are a few of the highlights of Sedgwick’s two terms in office.
Annexation of Santo Domingo: In the fall of 1869 in what would be one of the most important points in John Sedgwick’s legacy, President Sedgwick was able to squeeze through a treaty in the U.S. Senate by a one vote margin that annexed the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic in exchange for assuming the island nation’s debt. Sedgwick was a proponent of annexation because he believed that the Dominican Republic could serve as a new home for southern blacks wanting to leave the repressive conditions in the South. Although only a few thousand American blacks would eventually move to the Commonwealth of Santo Domingo (as the U.S. Territory was called), the island did provide the location for an important U.S. naval base at Samana Bay.
The War Scare of 1872: In what historians would call the War Scare of 1872, the Prussian led North German Confederation narrowly avoided a war with the French and Austro-Hungarian Empires over the allegiance of the south German states. The subsequent Conference of Munich, realigned the Kingdom of Bavaria and a few other small catholic south German states into an alliance with Austria-Hungary and France in an effective attempt to curtail Prussia’s increasing power. This humiliating setback for Prussia pushed them into an alliance singed in 1874 with imperial Russia to counter the growing power of the Bonapartes and Hapsburgs. In light of these events President Sedgwick continued to stress American neutrality in European affairs.
Napoleon IV comes to Power: Emperor of the French, Napoleon III, died on March 5th, 1875 due to surgical complications over a bladder stone. His son Louis Napoleon was crowned Napoleon IV in a lavish ceremony in Notre Dame Cathedral on his 19th birthday on March 19th, 1875. Napoleon IV continued France’s industrialization and would in a few years time start a massive build up of the Imperial French Navy.
Emperor of the French, Napoleon IV
The 1872 Presidential Election
Andrew Johnson (TN)
Democratic Presidential Canidate
The Republicans maintained their control on the Whitehouse with the decisive reelection of President John Sedgwick and Vice President Arthur I. Boreman. Although almost all of the southern states went for the Democratic candidates, Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson and his running mate former Maj. General Winfield S. Hancock of Pennsylvania, the election results showed that the Republican Party was starting to make serious inroads with southern working class voters especially in the Upper South.
Colorado: The United States continued to settle its western territories during Sedgwick’s time in office with Colorado entering the Union on November 2th, 1874.
American Centennial: July 4th, 1876 marked the centennial of American independence. From one end of the country to the other the nation was united in massive parades, demonstrations, and displays of fireworks. The Centennial celebrations were also noteworthy in that for many parts of the Deep South it was the first time that Independence Day had been celebrated since the Civil War.
American Centennial Celebrations in Philadelphia
July 4, 1876
Reconciliation: With Reconciliation largely over, race relations in the southern states settled into a pattern that would last for decades. So called “black codes” kept southern blacks from voting or holding office in most parts of the South during this period. Despite the atmosphere of segregation however, lynchings and other overt acts of violence towards blacks were rare and consigned mostly to the Deep South. Leaders of the African American community during this time concentrated their efforts on economic and educational advancement, establishing several universities for black students.
War with Spain
Arthur I. Boreman
18th President of the United States
The 1876 Presidential Elections
As the Sedgwick years drew to a close it was his Vice President Arthur I. Boreman of Virginia that quickly emerged as the Republican frontrunner. Although there were a few men in the North concerned about a Virginian president so soon after the Civil War, Boreman was able to easily secure his party’s nomination. For the Republican's 1876 Vice Presidential candidate Congressman James Blaine from Maine was selected to balance the southern Boreman.
When the results were tallied, Boreman beat Democratic candidate former Maj. General Hancock of Pennsylvania and his running mate Senator William Allen of Ohio by a respectable margin. Significantly, Virginia had narrowly gone for the Republicans, making it the first former Confederate state to vote for a Republican candidate for President.
Cuba and Spain
Boreman’s presidency was plunged into crisis almost as soon as he was inaugurated. By the time Boreman took office in early 1877, Cuban rebels had been fighting with their Spanish overlords for nine years in what seemed to be an increasingly futile attempt to through off the yoke of Old World oppression. The War for Cuban Independence had begun when a Cuban lawyer and plantation owner named Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, fed up with the Spaniards economic rape of his island, freed his slaves and declared Cuba’s independence. Since then the Cuban insurrectos had been waging a guerrilla war against loyalist and Spanish forces, a war that had in recent years been going poorly for the rebels.
The Republican controlled government of the United States favored a Cuba free from Spanish rule for two main reasons. Firstly, the captive island nation still had the institution of slavery. Secondly, ever since the near war with France in 1865 European forces located so close to the United States were deemed to be a serious threat to the country’s security. In order to support the Cuban freedom fighters the Federal government had been funneling guns and supplies to the rebels ever since the late 1860’s, a fact that infuriated the Spanish government. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Spain had in recent years gone through a period of drastic political instability with Republican, Bourbon, and Carlist forces threatening the military junta that ruled Spain ever since the forced abdication of Queen Regnant Isabella II in 1875.
Declaration of War
USS Ossippee, 1877
The incident that would spark the conflict occurred off the coast of Maisi, Cuba a city located on the far eastern tip of the island. What actually occurred on that foggy night of May 16th, 1877 is still hotly debated amongst historians to this day. The United States claimed that the Spanish frigate San Justo suddenly fired at the USS Ossipee, an American sloop on its way from New Orleans to Santo Domingo. The Spaniards claimed that the Ossipee was offloading supplies to Cuban rebels and that it fired first when it saw the approaching Spanish vessel. Regardless, after a fierce exchange of fire, the Ossippe was sunk and the San Justo seriously damaged. The Ossippe Incident caused outrage in both the United States and Spain. In the volatile weeks that followed, President Boreman demanded the release of the Ossippe survivors. Spain refused to release the sailors and instead demanded an apology and a stop to the U.S. supplying the insurrectos. Boreman then retaliated by increasing aid to the rebels and strengthening American naval presence in the Caribbean.
In light of these developments, Spain declared war on the United States on September 12th, 1877 in order to divert public attention abroad and with the belief that the Spanish navy could handle the Americans. This declaration was soon reciprocated by one from Washington, officially starting the Spanish-American War.
The Military State of Affairs
America was woefully unprepared when war erupted with Spain in 1877, both at land and on sea. This installment will give a brief description of the American military and its leaders at the beginning of the Spanish-American War.
Nathan Goff Jr.
Secretary of the Navy
At the start of the war with Spain the United States found its navy in a sorry condition. The U.S. Navy numbered a paltry 6,400 sailors. Furthermore the American fleet only possessed 51 operational vessels, most of which dated back to the Civil War over 14 years ago. This was a far cry from 1863 when America boasted around 400 warships many of which now in 1877 were either scrapped or mothballed and rusting.
With the sudden outbreak of the war it was up to Nathan Goff Jr., the 34 year old Secretary of the Navy, to bring as many of these mothballed vessels back up to fighting standards as quickly as possible. Although Goff, a Republican politician from the same part of western Virginia as President Boreman, had never served a day at sea history would remember him for his actions during the war as one of the most important figures in U.S. naval history.
Robert Todd Lincoln
Secretary of War
Over the course of the war Nathan Golf would develop a close friendship with the U.S. Secretary of War, former President Abraham Lincoln’s oldest son Robert Todd Lincoln. Robert Lincoln had missed military service due to attending Harvard during the Civil War. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Lincoln followed in the footsteps of his famous father and became a lawyer. After a few years of practicing law in Illinois, Robert Lincoln entered politics and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives at the age of 29 in 1872. He served as a Republican Congressman until the election of President Boreman in 1876 when he was offered the position of Secretary of War.
Lincoln had scarcely settled into office when the conflict broke out, and like his friend in the Naval Department, Lincoln scrambled to muster the forces needed to defend the nation. This was not an easy task in late 1877, when the U.S. Army was undermanned, underpaid, and overextended having been occupied since the end of the Civil War with fighting the Indians in the west.
Maj. General William Tecumseh Sherman
Commanding General of the United States Army
Lincoln made a point from the very start of the war to work closely with the Commanding General of the United States Army, 57 year old Major General William Tecumseh Sherman. In conjunction with Secretary Lincoln, Sherman, one of the heroes of Vicksburg and the conqueror of Arkansas and Texas, immediately began shuffling the few Army units on hand to protect the southeastern coastline until naval supremacy could be achieved against the Spanish. Sherman and Lincoln were also able to convince President Boreman to agree that until new forces could be raised (Boreman had at the onset of the war called for 80,000 volunteers) units from the state militias should be called out to protect the east coast.
American War Aims
In early October of 1877 President Boreman held a council of war with General Sherman and Secretaries Goff and Lincoln in the Whitehouse to outline the nation’s goals for the war. First, President Boreman stated that military forces should be built up to defend the American coastline and the Commonwealth of Santo Domino before the military undertook any offensive operations. Secondly, since the war was largely a result of Spain trying to maintain its grip on its New World holdings it was decided that Spain must relinquish control of Cuba and Puerto Rico as a condition for peace (whether these islands would be annexed by the U.S. or granted their independence was not discussed). Nathan Goff then brought up the Spanish colony of the Philippines. After a brief discussion, a consensus was reached that since all available naval assets were need on the east coast, an expedition to the Philippines would only be launched after the Caribbean had been cleared of Spanish forces.
In short, at the start of the war the military of United States was at one of its lowest points in history. It would be up to America’s military leaders, President Boreman, Secretaries Goff and Lincoln, and Maj. General Sherman to see if the young nation could weather the coming storm.
The Beginning of the
The Opening Engagements
The first major engagement of the war, the Battle of El Verraco, took place on October 28th 1877 when a squadron of American warships under Rear Admiral John Rodgers repulsed a Spanish convoy containing men and supplies in route to Santiago de Cuba. The first land combat of the war occurred two weeks later where, in a surprise move the Spaniards successfully conducted a raid on the city of Bavaro in the Commonwealth of Santo Domingo. The attack on Bavaro was part of Spain’s plan to take advantage of the U.S. territory’s fractured politics by stirring up insurrection in Santo Domingo against the American authorities.
Notable U.S. ground commanders
Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer
With the Spanish-American War taking place roughly 14 years after the conclusion of the Civil War the United States could draw from a vast number of experienced officers and senior NCO’s. The most prominent of these Civil War veterans was of course William T. Sherman who in November of 1877 due to the rapid enlargement of the Army, Congress saw fit to promote to Lieutenant General, a rank that had not been held since George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Other prominent Veterans that would play an important role in the war included Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and former Confederate General James Longstreet.
Lt. Colonel Custer, who rose to the rank of major during the Civil War, had since made a name for himself as an Indian fighter in the American West. Custer now commanded the 3rd U.S. Cavalry Regiment which had been redeployed from the west to fight the Spanish in the planned invasion of Cuba. James Longstreet had seen extensive action during the Civil War in the eastern theater fighting for the Confederacy and after the war had became the successful owner of a southern railway company. Longstreet had also been one of the few but increasing numerous Southerners to join the Republican Party. Secretary of War Lincoln believed that the war with Spain was a golden opportunity to heal the scars of the Civil War, and that a former Confederate General turned republican supporter would be a public relations masterpiece. As such Lincoln offered Longstreet the command of a division of volunteers then forming in Florida under Corps commander Major General Philip Sheridan. Longstreet accepted the appointment and was awarded the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Army.
A 1876 photo of James Longstreet before he was appointed
a Brigadier General in the United States Army
The Battle of the Keys
The first major engagement of the war took place on Christmas Day 1877 near the Florida Keys when a large taskforce of Spanish ships on its way to interdict shipping and raid the coast of Florida was intercepted by a smaller American force. The battle was technically a Spanish victory as the American force was forced to withdraw after over 5 hours of intense fighting. Interestingly, even though the Spaniards outnumbered the Americans 2 to 1 the Americans over the course of the battle were able to inflict roughly twice as many casualties on the Spanish. This was largely due to the fact that many of Spain’s naval vessels were still largely made out of wood.
The American press at the time greatly exaggerated the damage the Spaniards suffered at the Battle of the Keyes with the Atlanta Journal calling it “one of the most hallow pyrrhic victory in history” and Harpers Weekly even comparing it to the Mexicans defeat at the Alamo. Regardless, the battle did illustrate the important fact that the Spanish Navy was even more backwards than their American opponents, and with more and more American warships coming onto line every month Spanish authorities began forming a plan they hoped would quickly win the war.
Sunk at the Battle of the Keys
December 25, 1877
The Battle of Ragged Island
Rear Admiral John Rodgers
United States Navy
January 17, 1878
In what would prove to be the decisive naval engagement of the war, the Battle of Ragged Island took place on January 17, 1878. The battle, which actually took place 20 miles south of the Bahaman island for which it is named, began when a fleet of Spanish warships escorting a relief convoy from Spain was intercepted by the American Fleet under Rear Admiral John Rodgers. The Spanish fleet consisted of 6 armored steam frigates, 3 ironclads, and an assortment of smaller vessels against the American fleet of 4 ironclads, 2 armored Steam frigates, and a corvette.
The flagship of the Spanish Fleet the Numancia, 1877
During the first stage of the battle the Americans slugged it out with their Spanish counterpart for over 3 hours. The turning point came when the ironclad USS Sumner under the command of Captain William T. Sampson rammed the flagship of the Spanish Fleet the Numancia. Struck by the Sumner’s ram below the waterline, the Numancia began to list heavily to its starboard side. However, before going down the Numancia was able to inflict serious damage on the charging USS Sumner. As the Sumner was withdrawing from the wounded Spanish ship, a shot from the Numancia pierced the American ironclad’s armor igniting the ships powder magazine. In an explosion heard as far away as Puerto Arturo, Cuba the Sumner was torn to pieces. The explosion of the Sumner so close to the Numancia has also been sighted as another reason for the quickness with which the Spanish flagship sunk beneath the waves abandoned by her terrified crew.
The sinking of the Numancia caused great confusion amongst the remainder of the Spanish fleet. Rear Admiral Rodgers took advantage of this by ordering his remaining vessels to close with the discombobulated Spaniards. The last hour of the battle saw the Spaniards break off the engagement but only after having suffered additional casualties.
In the end, the Battle of Ragged Island proved costly for both sides. The Spaniards lost their flagship as well as the Vitoria. The Sagunto was heavily damaged and had to be abandoned during the trip back to Spain. In addition to the loss of the Sumner the Steam Frigate USS Poseidon was also lost. Most of the other American ships at the battle also suffered considerable damage. However, the battle did force most of the Spanish Fleet to withdraw from Caribbean. Now with naval superiority, the Americans could commence with the next step in their war plan, the invasion of Cuba.
The Invasion of Cuba
An artist's anachronistic depiction from the early 20th Century of the American landings east of Santiago de Cuba
It is widely accepted amongst historians that the American V Corps which invaded Cuba on February 20th, 1878 had one of the highest concentrations of military talent of any army in modern military history. All of the division and regimental commanders had seen extensive combat during the Civil War as had 60% of the V Corps’s officers and 45% of the NCOs. These leaders’ experiences in the Civil War gave them an enormous advantage when fighting the Spanish in Cuba. This installment will give a brief description of the initial American landing in Cuba as well as the American’s order of battle.
Sailing from ports in Florida in mid February, the U.S. Army’s V Corps under the command of Major General James McPherson made a contested landing 15 miles east of Santiago de Cuba. The success of the landings was largely the result of two factors. The first being ample naval gunfire from the supporting U.S. Navy, and the tenacity of V Corps’s 1st Division commander Major General Ulysses S Grant being the second.
After serving with distinction during the Civil War, General Grant had left the Army and returned to Ohio with the intention of making his fortune in business. Sadly, Grant’s luck fared little better after the war than it had before and he soon returned to being heavily indebted. With his business ventures failing Grant was convinced by the local party machine to run as a Republican for governor of the state of Ohio. Grant served two terms as governor from 1870 to 1874, both of which were mired in scandal. When hostilities broke out in 1877, Grant petitioned his friend and former subordinate Lt. General William T. Sherman for a position in the Army. In a move that angered some career army officers, Sherman gave Grant command of the 1st Infantry Division. Although Grant had commanded an entire army during the Civil War, he was glad for any position that would allow him to see action and escape his creditors.
In command of V Corps’s other division was the seasoned veteran Major General John Buford. Buford, who had earned a larger than life reputation fighting the Confederates as a cavalry officer, had stayed in the army after the Civil War seeing considerable service on the western frontier. Operating directly under Buford was Brigadier General Philip Sheridan in command of the Calvary Division’s 1st Brigade. Of the three regimental commanders, George Armstrong Custer and J.E.B Stuart stand out the most, largely due to the bitter rivalry they developed. Both had fought on opposite sides during the Civil War and both were known for their sometimes reckless pursuit of glory. Stuart, who after the Civil War had become a planter and politician in Virginia, was greatly resented by Custer who thought that the inclusion of former Confederates in the war effort was merely the Republican Party’s way of trying to increase its voter base in the South.
Internal quarrels aside, the American invasion force was able over the next two weeks to expand its beachhead and begin laying siege to Santiago. However, taking the city would prove harder than any of these battle hardened leaders could imagine.
The American Order of Battle
Commanding General of the United States Army:
Lt. General William T. Sherman
V Corps: Major General James McPherson
1 Division: Major General Ulysses S. Grant
1st Brigade: Brigadier General James Longstreet
7th U.S. Infantry Regiment
14th U.S. Infantry Regiment
56th U.S. Volunteer Infantry Regiment
2nd Brigade: Colonel Joshua Chamberlain
2nd U.S. Infantry Regiment
11th U.S. Infantry Regiment
24th (Colored) U.S. Infantry Regiment
3rd Brigade: Brigadier General David S. Stanley
9th U.S. Infantry Regiment
13th U.S. Infantry Regiment
6th U.S. Infantry Regiment
Calvary Division: Major General John Buford
1st Brigade: Brigadier General Philip Sheridan
3rd U.S. Calvary Regiment: Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer
1st U.S. Volunteer Calvary: Lt. Colonel J.E.B. Stuart
7th U.S. Calvary Regiment: Colonel Wesley Merritt
The Cuban Campaign
U.S Calvary at the Siege of Santiago de Cuba
March - June, 1878
The Siege of Santiago de Cuba
Major General McPherson began besieging the Spanish held city of Santiago de Cuba in earnest in early March of 1878. The city was defended by roughly 12,000 Spanish troops and loyalist Cuban militia. The Spaniards centered their defense along a ridge of fortified hill tops located east of the city known as the San Juan Heights. The Americans gave each hill a numerical designation and began with a frontal attack. The initial American assaults on hills Number 2 and Number 3 were both repulsed. Military historians often sight these engagements as the first major instance where forces armed exclusively with rifles firing self contained cartridges fought one another, the Americans and Spanish forces using the 1872 Springfield and .43 Spanish Remington rifles respectively. Despite this initial setback, a few days later in a spectacular display of daring Hill Number 3 was taken when Lt. Colonel J.E.B Stuart and his 1st Volunteer Calvary carried the position. Stuart's attack was aided by gunfire from a supporting battery of Gatling guns. Not to be outdone, Lt. Colonel Custer of the neighboring 3rd Calvary led, much to the dismay of General Sheridan, a mounted charge against Hill Number 2. Custer captured the position but only after suffering considerable casualties.
As the Americans made slow but steady progress towards Santiago de Cuba through March and April they would face an enemy more deadly than Spanish bullets, Yellow Fever. The lack of clean drinking water only exacerbated the issue and soon thousands of American troops were incapacitated or dying. Despite the constant threat of disease however, the considerable Civil War battlefield experience of the American army took a serious toll on the Spanish forces. Further successful American assaults eventually leading the capture of Santiago de Cuba on April 26th, 1878. The next day General McPherson held a victory parade though the streets of the city where, as he would state years later in his memoirs, “our forces were very well received by the long oppressed population. The streets of the city were so chocked with dancing peasants and recently freed slaves that it took over three hours to reach the city’s central Plaza”.
Stuart and Custer’s Overland Campaign
After news of the fall of Santiago de Cuba had reached Washington, Lt. General Sherman and Secretary of War Robert Lincoln issued their next set of instructions to General McPherson. McPherson’s 1st Corp would be split. Most of the infantry along with the 7th Cavalry would be transported by ship to invest the island’s capital of Havana. Meanwhile Stuart and Custer’s cavalry regiments would be detached and sent on an overland campaign westwards through the island’s lightly defended interior. Stuart and Custer’s columns were meant to support each other, each moving west towards Havana liberating Cuban cities and freeing the island’s slaves as they went. If Havana had not already fallen by the time they reached the island’s capital they were to join in the final assault.
Cooperation between Custer and Stuart broke down almost immediately. Despite having orders that they should support each other’s advance the situation soon turned into a mad dash towards Havana. The two commanders and their respective cavalry regiments competed to see who could liberate the most towns, free the most slaves, and especially cover the most ground. The open rivalry between these two legendary commanders was so well known that bets were placed as far away as Moscow as to who would be the first to reach Havana.
Victory Over Spain
Battle of Havana, 1878
The Battle of Havana
The last major engagement of the war was the Battle of Havana. Maj. General James McPherson began encircling the island’s capital in the middle of May, 1878. The American forces were bolstered by thousands of Cuban freedom fighters who, with American victory in sight, flocked to the Stars and Stripes. Havana however was strongly defended. The Spanish believed that if they could bleed the Americans a little longer and let the yellow fever continue to decimate their ranks the United States would be willing to discuss a negotiated peace. For the next three weeks, the U.S. Navy bombarded Havana as McPherson’s forces continued to encircle the city. In what would become common place in later wars, McPherson made excellent use of trenches to protect his forces from the defending Spaniards. Trenches however did not negate the fact that the Americans were making painfully slow progress towards taking the city.
On June 2nd 1878, Lt. Colonel J.E.B. Stuart and his exhausted 1st Volunteered Calvary triumphantly joined the besieging American army. Upon his arrival Maj. General Ulysses S. Grant commented to Stuart that it was “a confounded miracle that the North ever won the War of the Rebellion with the South possessing horsemen such as yourself.” Lt. Colonel Custer’s 3rd Calvary arrived at the American camp two days later. It has been reported that Custer was so angry upon learning that Stuart had beat him to Havana that, as one of his subordinates put it, “the good Colonel nearly ripped his long hair out in disgust.”
The finally assault on the city began on the morning of June 21st, 1878. American forces launched a withering four hour artillery barrage on the city’s defenses before ordering a full frontal assault. The Spanish forces put up fierce resistance but were steadily pushed back into the city in what proved to be a determined urban defense.
A few hours into the battle, in a move that has often been criticized by military historians, General McPherson ordered Stuart’s cavalry regiment to exploit a gap in the Spanish defenses and rush into the center of the city. Stuart made surprising good progress until he reached Havana’s Plaza de la Catedral in the center of the city where the 1st Volunteer Cavalry came under heavy fire. Amongst the gunfire, J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded when a Spanish bullet pierced his lower abdomen. Stuart was then dragged into the nearby Catedral de San Cristobal where the remnants of his cavalry regiment had taken refuge.
Catedral de San Cristobal Havana Cuba, 1878
Upon seeing smoke rise from the center of the city, Custer, whose 3rd Calvary had been kept in reserve during the battle, led his regiment, without orders, into the embattled city. Although, Custer would later state that he did this because he “could sense that American lives were in peril” it is more likely that he charged in Havana against orders because he believed that the battle would soon be won and the chance to win glory would be over. Regardless, the 3rd Calvary did reach the hard pressed survivors of Stuart’s regiment. Custer led his men in a dismounted charge through the Plaza, shooting his way into the besieged Catedral de San Cristobal. It what now has become a famous exchange, Custer upon seeing the dying J.E.B. Stuart doffed his hat and said “ Sir, I have arrived!” to which the ailing Stuart replied “ Yes, but as always I was here first.” Both men laughed at the absurdity of situation after which Custer, with the assistance from one of his troopers, a 19 year old Corporal from New York named Theodore Roosevelt, carried Stuart to the top of the Cathedral where together they unfurled the first American flag to fly over the city.
These two daring, if not reckless, cavalry charges into the city center proved too much for the Spaniards who officially surrendered later that day. Interestingly amongst the captured Spanish was an American named William W. Loring from North Carolina. Loring had served as a colonel in the Union army before fighting for the Confederate Army as a General during the Civil War. Following the South’s defeat Loring had even been briefly employed as a military advisor by the Ottoman Sultan before Turkish financial constraints made Loring seek employment with the Spanish Government. Despite pleas from Loring that he had not “actively participated in the resent hostilities” against the American forces he was nonetheless tried and hanged as a traitor ten days later.
William W. Long in the Confederate and Ottoman Armies
The capture of the city was officially celebrated three days later with a massive parade through the city where, as had almost become customary at this point, the Battle Cry of Freedom was sung with the appropriate lyrical changes tailored for the Spanish.
Yes we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
We will rally from the Southland, we'll gather from the North,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the tyrants, and up with the stars;
While we rally round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
We are springing to the call with a million freemen more,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And we'll fill our vacant ranks of our brothers gone before,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And although he may be poor, not a man shall be a slave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
So we're springing to the call from the East and from the West,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And we'll hurl the evil crew from the land we love best,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
The Treaty of Amsterdam (1878)
With the fall of Havana coming a week after the capture of Puerto Rico it became clear that the war was over. Still, it took over a month before the final peace treaty was signed in the Netherlands. The Treaty of Amsterdam was official signed on July 25th, 1878. Its stipulations were simple; Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the rest of Spain’s West Indian possessions were to be ceded to the United States without compensation. Although some of the American delegates pressed for the annexation of some of Spain’s Pacific territories, the lack of American activity in the Pacific during the war undermined this claimed.
Effects of the War
The Spanish-American War had a large affect on both nations. For the United States, it was a major step in healing the wounds of the Civil War as Southerners and Northerners both fought valiantly against a foreign enemy. The United States also greatly increased its Caribbean holdings which now included Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, and a few other minor islands. The United States would also soon undergo several military reforms in light of lessons learned from the war. This victory though had not come cheap. The war, although lasting less than 11 months, cost the Americans 1,352 men killed and many more wounded or wrecked by disease.
Spain however, suffered much worse, losing an estimated 7,800 men killed and wounded. Furthermore having lost the the last remnants of their New World empire, the ruling military junta was overthrown and Spain was plunged yet again into civil war.
In the end, the Spanish-American War marked an important turning point in American history. For the first time in its history the United States had soundly beat a European Power and proved to the world that it was a force to be reckoned with.
Part 1: The United States
Boston, Massachusetts in the 1880's
The United States
The 1880s was a largely uneventful time for the United States as the nation continued to industrialize and settle its western territories. The following are a few highlights from this mostly forgotten decade in American history.
The 1880 Presidential Election and the Cuban Question
In the 1880 Presidential Elections, President Arthur Boreman was reelected by a narrow margin over Democratic candidates Thomas S. Bayard of Delaware and his running mate Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania. Boreman’s victory was mainly attributed to the victory over Spain two years earlier. However, the issue of what to do with America’s newfound Caribbean holdings divided the nation. Some, mostly radical republicans, wanted to grant the territories full independence. Other’s feared the addition of more non-whites into the nation, but still wanted to reap the financial benefits. These politicians, mostly Democrats, favored a policy of lording over the islands as protectorates. Boreman however wished for islands to one day to be able to join the Union, stating that those islands “rightfully belong to America as it was American blood which paid for their freedom.” Furthermore, America had intervened at the tail end of Cuba’s losing fight for freedom against the Spanish and as such few native leaders were left to lead an independent Cuba. With this in mind, and by two close votes in Congress, Cuba and Puerto Rico joined Santo Domingo as U.S. Territories. Although there were some in Cuba which resented being annexed by the United States, many saw it as an alternative to the anarchy and civil war which had prevailed for most of the 1870's.
The Panic of 1883
A severe but short lived economic depression hit the United States in 1883. Historians mostly cite the cause of this downturn in economic activity as a result of over speculation on American gold reserves. The economy rebounded by the end of 1885, and continued to grow rapidly well into the 1890’s.
The Democrats Return to Power: The Election of President Samuel J. Randall
Samuel J. Randall
Democrat from Pennsylvania
19th President of the United States of America
With the nation in the grips of a severe economic recession, the American voters decided that the time was ripe for a political shakeup. The 1884 elections saw the first Democratic President elected since James Buchanan in 1856. Samuel J. Randall, an influential Congressman from Pennsylvania, and his Vice Presidential candidate David B. Hill of New York, easily beat the Republican ticket of former Vice President James Blaine of Maine and Chester A. Arthur of New York.
Randall proved to be a popular President, winning reelection in 1888 against Republican challenger John Sherman of Ohio, the younger brother of Lt. General William T Sherman. In foreign policy Randall pursued a more isolationist path than his Republican predecessor, largely keeping America out of European affairs. President Randall was also a moderate in domestic affairs, leaving issues such as civil rights, statehood for the Caribbean territories, and women’s suffrage untouched. Arguably the most enduring legacy of the Randall Administration was the repeated allegations of corruption and scandals which plagued his years in office.
States Admitted to the Union during the 1880s
North Dakota: March 6, 1885
South Dakota: March 6, 1885
Washington: February 23. 1886
Montana: November 4, 1886
Wyoming: July 3, 1887
Idaho: November 17, 1887
Part 2: Imperial France
Under Napoleon IV, the Second French Empire prospered during the 1880s by continuing to industrialize and expand at a rapid pace. France purchased the Philippine Islands from Spain in 1879 from the cash strapped republican government that was then temporarily in power. France also gained control of Egypt during a brief war in 1883 after a series of anti-European riots, which France claimed were orchestrated by the unruly Khedive Tewfik Pasha, led to a successful French invasion. Napoleon IV relished following in the footsteps of his great-uncle and even visited the conquered province in 1885. Possession of Egypt also guaranteed French control of the Suez Canal of which Britain was a partial stockholder. Although officially the United Kingdom supported the French invasion, many historians have cited the 1883 Franco-Egyptian War as an important beginning step in the deterioration of Anglo-French relations.
During the 1880s, Imperial France strengthened its alliances with other empires. The Austro-Hungarian Empire remained chief amongst France’s allies who, like France, wished to see Italy and Prussia’s ambitions kept in checked. In the Americas, France found a receptive ally in the Empire of Brazil who welcomed French investment in exchange for Brazilian natural resources. It was also during the 1880s that France began to align its self with the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans saw the French as a potential counterweight to the British who were expanding their holdings in Arabia, and to the Russians, the Turks age old enemy to the north.
A world map from the end of the 1880s.
The Roaring 90s
Part 1: 1890-1896
David B. Hill
Democrat from New York
Twentieth President of the United States
The Administration of President David B. Hill (1890-1896)
On February 2nd, 1890 President Samuel J. Randal suffered a fatal heart attack. At 61 years old Randal was the third U.S. President to die in office following William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. Succeeding him to the Presidency was Vice President David B. Hill a 49 year old Democrat from New York. President Hill would preside over a booming economy in what historians would later call the “Roaring 90s.” In the 1892 Presidential election David B. Hill and his running mate John M. Palmer of Illinois easily beat the Republican ticket of Thomas B. Reed of Maine and William McKinley of Ohio. Hill’s time in office proved to be largely uneventful, and he is mainly remembered for starting construction on the Nicaraguan Canal and the 1893 annexation of the Hawaiian Islands.
States entered into the Union during the 1890s
Central American Canals: In 1891, after years of dithering and false starts, Napoleon IV officially sanctioned the Imperial Isthmian Company which began construction on a canal to link the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in Panama, Columbia. With France already in effective control of the Suez Canal, Napoleon IV hoped that this second canal would enhance French prestige in Latin American and give France an advantage in their growing naval race with Great Britain. The United States, who greatly resented the French presence in Central America, started construction on their own canal in Nicaragua in 1893.
Scramble for Africa: During the 1890s Africa continued to be divided up by the European powers of France, Great Britain, Portugal, and Belgium. France dominated North and West Africa while Britain held a vast swath of the continent running from the Cape of Good Hope to southern Sudan. By 1896 all of Africa had been subdued by foreign powers with the exceptions of Liberia, Ethiopia, Morocco, and the Boer Republics. As available territory in Africa shrunk, tensions amongst the competing colonial powers rose adding fire to the mounting tensions on the continent.
Parliamentarianism in Russia: In 1894 Alexander II of Russia, in one of the last acts of his reign, granted vastly increased powers to the Imperial Duma which had been established ten years earlier. Although the effects of this shift in power would take many years to be fully felt, in later years historians would view this as an important step in the liberalization of Russian politics and a turning point in Russian history from autocracy towards constitutional monarchy. Alexander II died in his bed a few months later being succeeding to the throne by his first born son Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov. Known as Nicholas II, the Emperor was the first Russian ruler to drop the word “Autocrat” from his title and like his father continued to modernize and reform Russian society.
1895 Coronation of Nicholas II
The 1896 Presidential Election
The 1896 Democratic National Convention in Baltimore, Maryland
In one of the great political surprises of American political history, Samuel Randal declined to seek a second term as President of the United States. This shocked many of his contemporaries as the young and popular Democrat was almost assured reelection. However, Randal had had his fill of politics and with the deteriorating health of his wife he made up his mind to retire to New York. If Randal’s decision wasn’t surprising enough the presidential heir apparent, Vice President Palmer, was terminally ill with stomach cancer and therefore also out of the race. This threw the Democratic nomination for president wide open. Indeed, political scientist and historians in later days would label the 1896 Democratic convention in Baltimore, Maryland as one of the most contentious in the nation’s history. The plethora of candidates throwing their hats in the ring included men of every stripe such as career politicians like Richard P. Bland of Missouri and populists like Arthur Sewall of Maine. However, the Democrats attention soon turned to a man who knew how to promote himself and exploit a hectic situation such as this, a man named George Armstrong Custer.
In 1896 Custer was possible one the best known names in America. He possessed a long and colorful career. Rising to the rank of major during the Civil War, Custer continued to advance his career and reputation as a determined soldier fighting in the Indian Wars in the American West. Custer really made a name for himself in the Spanish American War where he raced J.E.B. Stuart across the length of Cuba from Santiago to Havana. Following the victory over Spain, Custer, now a Brigadier General, retired from the Army and returned to his home state of Ohio. Over the next 12 years Custer would pursue a variety of business ventures all of which ended in failure. The General’s luck however turned for the better in 1892 when the local Democrat political machine chose him to run for Governor. Custer won the election beating out incumbent governor and former Republican nominee for Vice President, William McKinley.
Now in 1896, Custer fought for the Democratic nomination with, as one of his contemporaries put it, “such a zeal that you would think he is fighting Red Indians or Spaniards.” Custer stayed away from the divisive issues being debated an instead ran on his reputation as a military hero. In the end it proved to be enough and on the sixteenth ballot he was chosen as the party’s nominee. The November elections against Republican candidates Mathew S. Quay of Pennsylvania for President and William B. Allison of Iowa for Vice President proved to be nearly as tough. When the votes were finally tallied, Custer and his running mate Horace Boise of Iowa, beat out their Republican rivals by the narrowest margin in a presidential election to date. Despite the abounding allegations of fraud perpetrated by Democrat party bosses, George Armstrong Custer was sworn in as the twenty-first President of the United States on an unusually cold morning on March 4, 1897.
George Armstrong Custer
Democrat from Ohio
Twenthy-First President of the United States
The Custer Years
The White House in 1897
Custer as President
Coming into office by the narrowest of margins, the Custer Administration was never fully able to shake off the sense of scandal that plagued his years in office. Much of what has been written about President Custer has concentrated on his supposed peculiarities and eccentricities. Indeed some go so far as to try and paint the 60 year old Custer as a senile old General who blundered his way through the political scene. While it is true that Custer did have some odd traits, such as insisting that people address him by the odd title of General-President and not Mr. President, it is easy to lose sight of some of Custer’s accomplishments during his first few months in office. The accomplishments include such things as the 1897 Military Reform Act, which laid the ground work for American military expansion in the 1900s.
The States of Oklahoma and Sequoya
Another one of Custer’s major accomplishments was successfully admitting the states of Oklahoma and Sequoya into the Union. Custer, whose feelings on Native Americans were always complex, felt that the Indians were owed at least one state of their own and not confined to dingy reservations. However, the idea of admitting the Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory as two separate states drew fire from both political parties. Many Republicans didn’t want the states introduced because they would likely vote Democrat while some Democrats opposed the notion because Sequoya would be the first state to be dominated by non-whites. In the end however, Custer was able pass the measures threw Congress with the States of Oklahoma and Sequoyah both entering the Union on November 9, 1897. The cities of Guthrie and Tulsa were chosen as teh state captials of Oklahoma and Sequoyah respectively.
County map of the State of Sequoyah
The Depression of 1897
The roaring 1890s came to an abrupt halt when the stock market crashed on “Black Thursday” November 14, 1897. The Depression that followed was one of the worst in American history and had a profound effect on the country for years to come. President Custer was slow to react to the depression expecting, as many of the experts did at that time, that the economy would fix itself. However, the depression continued to worsen and was even exacerbated by the protective tariffs that President Custer and the Democrat controlled congress passed in an effort to protect the economy.
Japan: Between Dec. 1896 and Oct 1897 the Empire of Japan fought against the Empire of China for influence over the Korean Peninsula in the First Sino-Japanese War. Japan emerged victorious and in the ensuing peace treaty received Formosa as well as some other Pacific islands. Furthermore China relinquished its control of the Korean Peninsula. Japan would officially annex Korea in 1899.
Japanese painting from the First Sino-Japanese War
Rising Tensions in Europe
As the availability for expansion outside of Europe dwindled and the economies plummeted with the 1897 Depression, tensions rose as many began to think that a general European war was becoming inevitable. Europe was quickly dividing itself into two opposing camps. One headed by the French, consisted of Imperial France, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. The other Alliance system was composed of the Russian Empire, and the Kingdoms of Italy and Prussia. Although all the principal nations involved were monarchies, the Russo-Prussian-Italian Alliance was becoming more politically progressive than their continental rivals who practiced government in a slightly more autocratic fashion. The smaller nations in Europe were caught in the middle and were faced with making the difficult decision of pursing neutrality, as the Low Countries and Scandinavia did, or purse their own alliances with the Great Powers as the Balkan nations would do. As the 19th Century drew to a close the United Kingdom continued to try and maintain an uneasy distance from the ever increasingly dangerous European system of alliances.
The World in 1900
Changing of the Guard:
The 1900 Presidential Election
Part 1: The Republican Challenger: Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln
At Harvard Law
The eldest and only surviving son of President Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln grew up with the enormous weight and expectations of having such an illustrious father. Born on August 1st, 1843 in Springfield Illinois, Robert Lincoln would become the first of the Lincoln family to attend college graduating from Harvard in 1864. His schooling did prevent him from serving in uniform during the Civil War a fact which Robert regretted for the rest of his life. After graduating from Harvard Law, Robert Lincoln practiced law in Springfield until he was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Republican in 1872 at the young age of 29. After serving four years as a Congressman, Robert Lincoln accepted the position of Secretary of War under President Arthur Boreman. It was during his stint as Secretary of War during the Spanish American War of 1877-1878 that Lincoln proved his genius for organization and launched Robert Lincoln to international prominence. Following the war with Spain, Robert Lincoln returned to Illinois and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1882. Lincoln would serve as President Pro-tempore of the Senate for two years until the Democrats gained power in 1884. With the Democrats firmly in power Lincoln chose not to stay in Washington politics and declined to run for reelection. He did decide however, to run for Governor of Illinois and was elected for the first of his unprecedented three terms as Governor in 1888.
Robert Todd Lincoln
As Secretary of War
By the time of the 1900 Presidential election, Robert Lincoln was one of the best qualified presidential candidates in American history having served as a Congressman, Secretary of War, Senator, and Governor in a political career that stretched back nearly 30 years. Throughout his years in office Robert Lincoln had developed a political philosophy that in years to come would be termed as Lincolnism or Lincolnian-Republicanism. The core tenants of which are usually defined by political scientists as
1) America having a proactive role on the world stage
2) Political rights for women and ethnic minorities.
3) Strict enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine and the notion of Manifest Destiny
4) Support for foreign democratic governments.
5) A robust military and strong national defense.
6) A free trade and a pro business economic climate while also targeting monopolies and protecting consumers.
By the end of the 1890’s Lincoln had become deeply troubled by the state of the country. Lincoln blamed Custer and the years of Democratic dominance for the ongoing economic depression. Lincoln also believed that Custer and his democratic predecessors had ignored America’s military and allowed foreign powers to encroach on the Western Hemisphere (i.e. France in Panama). And although Lincoln could have easily secured a fourth term as Governor of Illinois he decided to throw his hat into the crowded ring of Republican presidential candidates. Lincoln’s uniqueness soon stood out and at the 1900 Republican National Convention in St. Louis, Lincoln quickly emerged as the frontrunner and was overwhelmingly selected as the party’s choice on the first ballot. Lincoln’s acceptance speech would become one of the most well known speeches in American political history declaring that “the Twentieth Century will be America’s Century” and that “the day will soon come when this great republic will take its rightful place at the forefront of free nations.” The 57 year old Lincoln ended his passionate speech by declaring “with the Almighty God smiling upon our endeavors we cannot and will not fail! The Constitution and Union Forever!"
Robert Todd Lincoln
Republican Candidate for President
Changing of the Guard:
The 1900 Presidential Election
Part 2: President Custer’s Last Stand
The Democratic National Convention
At the 1900 Democratic National Convention in Cleveland, Custer was able to secure re-nomination as the party’s choice for president after beating out multiple disenchanted Democratic challengers. The ailing Vice President Boise however was replaced with Senator Thomas J. Stuart of Virginia the eldest son of former Colonel J.E.B. Stuart as the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate.
During the 1900 Presidential Election the Democrats sought to mobilize their base against Lincoln whom they saw as a “Radical Republican” and adopted a very regressive platform favoring protective tariffs, isolationism, and no change on the political rights of women and Negros. The Republicans, who ran a very progressive and reform minded campaign, were also aided greatly by Lincoln’s famous last name and used it to their advantage as demonstrated by their 1900 campaign song “Lincoln and Liberty” which was an updated version of Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 campaign song.
If Lincoln was the acme of passion, intellect, and energy, Custer was the embodiment of the direct opposite. Compared to their Republican challengers Custer and Stuart seemed lethargic and mentally utterly outmatched as shown when Lincoln trounced Custer is a series of wildly reprinted debates. The Republican candidate for Vice President Nathan Goff Jr., a close friend of Lincoln and former Secretary of the Navy and congressman from Virginia, would also handily outwit his counterpart, Thomas J. Stuart, in the first ever vice presidential debate in American history an occurrence that would not happen again for 32 years.
When the votes were finally tallied Lincoln and his fellow Republicans won in one of the largest electoral sweeps in U.S. history. Lincoln carried nearly every state with a few exceptions in the Deep South and the State of Sequoyah. The Republicans now controlled the White House and both houses of Congress for the first time since 1882. In what would become known as the “Spirit of 1900” Robert Todd Lincoln assumed the office of president amid jubilation and equipped with a mandate for change.
Robert Todd Lincoln
Republican from Illonios
22nd President of the United States
Nathan Goff Jr.
Republican from Virginia
21st Vice President of the United States
After his defeat, President George Armstrong Custer would retire to private life back in his home state of Ohio. Custer would harbor a deep since of betrayal by the American people until his death in 1905, having remarked to a friend “it would have been better if I been scalped fighting on the plains than to have been slain by the likes of politicians.” Custer has often been ranked as one of the worst presidents in American history. Indeed, Custer’s failings are all the more striking when compared with the accomplishments of the Lincoln Administration. However, Custer’s reputation has improved somewhat in recent years mainly due to Brian Darr’s 1993 documentary film Custer: the Soldier President which stressed Custer’s accomplishments during the Civil and Spanish American Wars and the 1897 Military Reform Act which would be of enormous benefit to the United States during the coming war.
at the dawn of the
Hello everyone, the following is a brief description of Latin America by the beginning of the Twentieth Century. If anyone has any questions or requests for further details don’t hesitate to ask. Cheers!
United Mexican States: Mexico has experienced a long and sustained period of growth sense the withdrawal of French forces in 1865. Mexico continues to industrialize at a respectable pace and free and fair elections are the norm not the exception. Mexico maintains very close and positive relations with the United States of America.
Central America: This region is composed of the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. These republics, while maintaining their own governments, are to a large extent dominated by the United States and have seen heavy American investment in the past few decades. Nicaragua is host to the American-Nicaraguan Canal Company which is continuing to build the Nicaraguan Canal to bridge the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
United States of Colombia: Colombia has since the early 1880’s been ruled by a repressively conservative military government. The Colombian government is to a large extent supported by their chief ally France who is allowed to harbor naval vessels and troops in Colombian ports. French contributions are made in order to safe guard their investments in the Canal under construction on the Panamanian Isthmus.
Flag of the United States of Colombia
Republic of Venezuela: Venezuela has become increasingly unstable over the past three decades due to economic stagnation and border disputes with neighboring British Guiana. Liberals favor closer relations with the United States of America while conservatives seek help from the French and their Colombian and Brazilian allies in any potential conflict with Great Britain.
Republic of Ecuador: Small and economically stagnant, Ecuador for the moment retains a relatively stable government, but continues to have disputes with Peru over the precise location of their jungle border.
Empire of Brazil: Latin America’s only monarchy, the Empire of Brazil is the region’s most powerful state. Currently ruled by Empress Isabela I and her husband a French nobleman the Prince-Consort Gaston, Brazil remains a staunch French ally as the Empire of France has poured millions of Francs into Brazil in exchange for massive amounts of raw materials and agricultural products. Having been the last nation in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery in 1887, Brazil continues to favor conservative domestic policies while at the same time seeking industrial growth, military expansion, and a larger role to play on the world stage.
Constitutional Empress and Perpetual Defender of Brazil
Argentine Republic: The second most powerful state in South America, Argentina has experienced considerable economic growth in recent decades. The Argentine government is highly suspicious of their Brazilian neighbors, and their French allies, and view themselves as the regions legitimate republican leader. As such Argentina maintains close relations with the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent the United States of America.
Republic of Bolivia: A deeply impoverished country, Bolivia is still reeling from the loss of its coastline to Chile during a war in the 1880’s. Currently ruled by a military dictatorship, Bolivia is seeking help from any nation who is willing to loan it money.
Republic of Peru: Although still resentful of its defeat at the hands of Chile during the 1880’s, Peru has rebounded in recent years. Its fragile democratic government has passed several reforms although the Peruvian military retains considerable power in the government.
State of Paraguay: After suffering a devastating defeat in the Paraguayan War (1865-1868), Paraguay has remained little more than a Brazilian puppet being both politically and economically dominated by its larger northern neighbor.
Oriental Republic of Uruguay: Uruguay pursues a strict policy of neutrality as it is sandwiched between the two rival powers of Brazil and Argentina.
Republic of Chile: Having enlarged its northern territory during wars with Peru and Bolivia, Chile is a rising power in South America. Chile is fairly prosperous but continues to have border disputes with neighboring Argentina and Bolivia. Chile seeks to strengthen its ties with the United States of America.
Here is a quick table of the TL's American Presidents. Cheers!
RTL’s first year in Office
Photograph of the Inaguration Day Parade of President Robert Todd Lincoln
RTL’s Cabinet Secretaries
President Robert Todd Lincoln (RTL) entered the Presidency will all the energy and vitality that characterized his campaign for office. Determined to “shake Washington by the scruff of the neck” Lincoln wasted no time in pushing the nominations for his cabinet secretaries though the solidly Republican controlled Senate. Many historians would in later years claim that RTL’s 1901 cabinet comprised some of best political talent since the early years of the American republic. Some of the more notable officials included veteran Republican politician and former vice presidential candidate, William McKinley for Secretary of State. McKinley had been out of political office since losing the governorship of Ohio to George Armstrong Custer in 1892. The post of Secretary of War was filled by a young and energetic New York politician and veteran of the Spanish-American War by the name of Theodore Roosevelt. The appointment of Alfred Thayer Mahan, an accomplished naval strategist and hero of the war with Spain, was significant in that it placed a military man and not a career politician in charge of naval affairs, a first in U.S. history that ruffled the feathers of many Democratic senators.
Attorney General- William H. Moody
Secretary of Agriculture- William K. Ashley
Secretary of State- William McKinley
Secretary of the Navy- Alfred Thayer Mahan
Secretary of the Treasury- Jonathan R. Fisher
Secretary of the Interior- James W. Fulton
Postmaster General- Joseph C. Davis
Secretary of War – Theodore Roosevelt
Once inaugurated, President Lincoln immediately began one of the biggest legislative initiatives in American history. The first and most pressing issue in the early months of 1901 was to jumpstart the American economy. President Lincoln and the Republican controlled 57th Congress repealed nearly all of the protective measures the Custer Administration had imposed on the country at the start of the depression. This not only allowed Americans access to cheaper foreign goods but allowed American businesses to start exported their wares overseas.
To create jobs congress passed several public work initiatives the most important being the American Infrastructure Development Act (AIDA). AIDA would over the course of several years put to work hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans doing any number of public works projects such as building roads, railways, canals, and irrigation systems. This act also increased the level of electrification in America several time over.
Another important bill that RTL and the Republican congress approved was the 1901 Naval Act. More commonly known as the Mahan Act after the Secretary of the Navy, the 1901 Naval Act would put thousands of dockworkers and shipbuilders back to work by dramatically increasing the number of vessels being constructed for the U.S. Navy. Once could argue that the Mahan Act was in a sense just a dramatic funding increase for the naval reforms already underway since the Military Reform Act of 1897, however it is worth noting that without the appropriate funding most of the Custer Era reforms would never have seen the light of day.
Cuba granted Statehood
After being ruled as a commonwealth since 1878, Cuba was officially granted statehood on June 21st 1901, 23 years to the day since the fall of Havana, making Cuba the 47th State. Cuba’s admission was loudly protested by the Democrats who resented the inclusion of a pro-Republican and largely non-English speaking and heavily black territory into the Union. The language issue was partially resolved in that in exchange for statehood, English would be the language of government and be taught alongside Spanish in Cuban schools. However, the Democrats fears about the State of Cuba’s political leanings seemed to have been well founded as Cuba would remain a Republican bastion for decades to come.
The single biggest event regarding foreign policy during President Lincoln’s first term was the cementing of an official rapprochement with the United Kingdom. True, Anglo-American relations had been on the rise since their low levels during the Civil War but it was President Lincoln and Secretary of State McKinley who officially acknowledged an Anglo-American sense of brotherhood that would last for decades.
Turning the Corner
Photograph of one of the millions of Americans that started going back to work as the economy improved.
December 4th, 1902
The United States
Economic Recovery Begins
All though it would take several more years for the United States to fully recover from the Depression of 1897, the economy began to seriously rebound by the end of 1902. Whether this was due to the job programs created by the government or whether it was simply the economic cycle is still debated by economists to this day.
1902 Midterm Elections
The 1902 midterm elections saw only modest Democrat gains in the House and Senate. The incumbent Republicans had more than enough seats to spare and easily maintained their control on both houses of Congress. Although some tried to maintain that the Republican loses was a repudiation of RTL’s policies, President Lincoln countered stating that since only a handful of seats were lost to the Democrats the elections showed that a clear majority of Americans supported his action over the last two years.
Upcoming Napoleonic Centennial
Starting in 1902, the Imperial French government began in earnest making preparations for the massive celebrations planned for the 1904 centennial of the coronation of Napoleon I. An enormous equestrian statue of Napoleon I in Paris which had already been under construction for several years was planned to be unveiled at the start of the celebrations. Although still two years away, the French government devoted large amounts of money and resources to what it hoped to be not only a ceremony to remember past glories but , as Napoleon IV put it “a proclamation to the world announcing the emerging preeminence of the French Empire.”
Queen Victoria Dies
On January 3rd, 1902 Queen Victoria, the longest reigning monarch in British history died at the age of 82. Much beloved, her funeral drew an enormous crowd and marked the end of an era in British history. Victoria was succeeded to the throne by her eldest son Edward VII. Although Edward had been largely excluded from power due to his mother’s unusually long reign, once installed as monarch, Edward would play an active role in British politics. Regarding foreign relations, from the start of his reign Edward was known for his distrust of the French, Napoleon IV in particular, and close relations with his brother in law the King of Prussia Fredrick III.
By the Grace of God, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India
China, Canals, and Civil Rights
The United States
The Beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement
1903 marked the beginning of what would eventually become known as the first wave in the civil rights movement in America. Since the end of the Civil War the racial status quo had been largely maintained arguably due to the long period of Democratic dominance in Congress and the Whitehouse. By the turn of the century however there had been some progress in the north and western parts of the country were Blacks were to a large degree allowed to vote. In the south and some Midwestern states unfortunately African Americans were barred from exercising their franchise by law. This notion however, began to be challenged in the early twentieth century by an ever increasing number of reformers.
It would be impossible to accurately tell the story of the early years of the Civil Rights Movement without first mentioning the most influential of these reformers, Rev. Samuel G. McGuffey and George W. Harley. Harley, an African American from a poor family in Newnan, Georgia, and McGuffey, a wealthy white man from Birmingham, Alabama, both served during their youths in the Spanish American War. At the Battle of Havana, Harley saved McGuffey’s life by dragging the wounded McGuffey to safety into a nearby house after suffering a life threatening wound to the chest. While tending to McGuffey’s wounds, Harley reportedly killed five Spanish militiamen as they tried to enter the house to finish the pair off. This harrowing experience started a deep friendship that would last for the rest of their lives.
Following the war with Spain, McGuffey and Harley moved their families to Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, McGuffey after attending seminary became the minister of an influential Atlanta Baptist church while Harley opened a series of profitable dry goods and retail stores. Although at first Harley and McGuffey were apolitical, the racially motivated 1903 murder of a local black rail worker began their rise to the forefront of the nascent civil rights movement as they together began the first steps of Black-White cooperation in Atlanta for a more inclusive southern society.
Completion of the Central American Canals
The Opening of the Panama Canal on July 8, 1903. One week after the Americans officially completed their Nicaraguan Canal
As both the Nicaraguan and Panamanian Canals neared completion the race between the American and French Canal companies intensified with speculation and beats being placed around the world as to whom would finish first. In the end, the United States won the race after nearly 10 years of construction when the American built Nicaraguan Canal opened on July 1st, 1903 with the U.S.S. Savannah being the first vessel to cross through the canal from the Caribbean Sea into the Pacific Ocean. The French built Panama Canal although started 2 years earlier finished 1 week later on July 8th. (The often reported anecdote that Napoleon IV flew into such a rage that he broke his sword over his knee when he learned the Americans had beaten the French is unfounded.). Regardless, both canals were heralded around the world as monuments to civilization as the new canals shortening the trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific by weeks.
Chinese Civil War
The Empire of China which had been ruled by the decaying Qing Dynasty since the mid 17th Century finely descended into open civil war on February 12, 1903, when the Emperor Zaitian suddenly died sparking a succession crisis and a scramble for the throne. The Chinese Civil War began with a variety of factions vying for power. In the north, around the capital of Peking, the remaining portions of the Imperial government sought to reestablish control over the disintegrating nation. In the south, a Chinese Republic was proclaimed on March 3rd by Chinese general Chen Ching-Kuo in the city of Canton. In the western parts of the empire, ethnic minorities and warlords fought with the Imperials, the Republicans, and amongst themselves for local control. Of additional importance, the Chinese Civil War further estranged the neighboring powers of Russia and Japan who had over the past decade become increasingly more involved in Chinese affairs.
The Reelection of RTL
100 Years of Bonapartism
President Robert Todd Lincoln
The United States
The 1904 Presidential Elections
Riding on a list of accomplishments and an improving economy, President Lincoln and Vice President Goff were unanimously re-nominated as the Republican ticket at the 1904 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Democrats had a much more divisive time at their convention in Tulsa, Sequoyah. After much debate and several ballots, the Democrats finally selected Henry G. Davis of Virginia and Jonathan Y. Ferguson of Michigan as their candidates for president and vice president respectively.
During the ensuing campaign Davis tried to paint Lincoln as a busy-body reformer and derided the military buildup as a “Republican scheme to impose despotism on the nation.” Lincoln and the Republican press however did a good job of painting Henry Davis as an anti-modern and senile old man (Davis was 80 years old at the time of the election, making him the oldest presidential candidate in American history). The Republican press got further mileage out of Lincoln competing with southerner Henry Davis by drawing comparisons to the Civil War rivalry between Abraham Lincoln and the despised first president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis.
In the end, RTL was returned to office with nearly as many votes as his 1900 victory over President Custer. The Republicans also retained firm control of both houses of Congress. In his second inaugural address RTL focused on two pivotal issues, first warning the enthusiastic crowd that “Our Union must be ever vigilant against the clouds of war gathering abroad” and then stating the need for greater civil rights for women and ethnic minorities at home.
Emperor of the French
The Napoleonic Centennial
1904 was a year of celebration for France’s Second Empire. After years of preparations, the centennial anniversary of Napoleon I’s coronation as Emperor of the French was celebrated in lavish style, dwarfing those of the 1897 Diamond Jubilee for the late Queen Victoria. The celebrations, which started on Napoleon IV’s 48th birthday on March 16th, continued on and off for most of the year, until culminating in one of the largest festivals in history on December 2nd,1904. The French government spared no expense for the festivities. At the center of the celebrations was the enormous equestrian statue of Napoleon I. At a maximum height of 100 meters, the Statue of Napoleon towered over the streets of Paris making it the tallest statue then in existence.
The Napoleonic Centennial is also noteworthy for the ostentatious display of French military strength and technology. Massive numbers of French troops and colonial soldiers from every part of the Empire were present in the capital for the never ending procession of parades and demonstrations, leading U.S. Secretary of State McKinley, the head of the U.S. delegation, to remark that “it would appear that the Emperor has gathered together the largest collection of warriors together since the armies of Xerxes.” Arguably more impressive than the number of troops or the giant Statue of Napoleon was the imperial army’s fleet of dirigeables. The largest of which was the airship L'Aigle Impérial (The Imperial Eagle) which made tours around the continent until lumbering over Paris for the final December 2nd celebrations.
After years of preparation and months of celebration, the capstone event of the centennial took place on a cold Friday morning on December 2nd, 1904. On that day, Napoleon IV made his way through the crowded city streets to Notre Dame Cathedral were he reenacted the coronation of his great uncle to the largest assembly of royalty in history. The ceremony not only marked the 100th anniversary of Napoleon I’s coronation but also the 52nd anniversary of the Bonaparte Restoration under Napoleon III, in a sense cementing the imperial family’s hold on power and legitimacy. Not all observers were impressed, Secretary of War Theodore Roosevelt declared the ceremony to be “nothing more than a who’s who of royalist trash” and the “vain pretentions of mediocrity pretending to be a great conqueror.” Others however viewed the massive display of imperial might in a more sinister light such as British Prime Minister Joseph Chamberlain who is ominously reported to have remarked to an aid that “today the Emperor sees fit to mirror his uncle’s coronation. Let’s hope that tomorrow he doesn’t mirror his appetite for war.”
The Imperial Army's L'Aigle Impérial landing in southern France
Progress and War
49 Star American Flag after the addition of the State of New Mexico
The United States
Passage of the 14th Amendment
The United States Congress, which had largely been returned to Republican control in the 1904 elections, passed the 14th Amendment to the Constitution on February 4th, 1905. Although it was not ratified until the end of the year it did mark the first time the constitution had been amended since 1865. The 14th Amendment states…
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Although some have derided the 14th Amendment as short and vague, the amendment did definitively make U.S citizens out of women, ethnic minorities, immigrants, and Native Americans. However, the glaring flaw of the amendment was that it did not state specifically if these groups of people had the right to vote. Some states construed that it did under the clause that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” However, in the southern states, which largely did not vote in favor of ratification, the amendment had little immediate effect on the widespread disenfranchisement of blacks.
New Mexico and Arizona Join the Union
The states of Arizona and New Mexico entered the Union on December 8th and December 10th, 1905 becoming the 48th and 49th states repectively. Together the addition of Arizona and New Mexico completed the settlement of the contingious United States.
Militiamen from the Orange Free State posing for a picture at the outbreak of the war
The Second Anglo-Boer War
In November, 1905 war erupted in southern Africa, when after years of rising tensions open hostilities broke out between the British Empire and the Boer Republics of the South African Republic (commonly referred to as the Transvaal) and the Orange Free State. The exact causes of the conflict are still argued to this day. The British claim that after a border incident where a platoon of British soldiers were ambushed and killed (their slain lieutenant being the son of the influential English banker Charles R. Abbott) the Orange Free State refused the ultimatum to allow British troops access to the small nation to investigate the crime. This refusal eventually led to a chain of events which sparked a British declaration of war on November 13th, 1905. Many Afrikaners however still maintain that the “Lost Platoon” was really trespassing on their land and was sent there by unscrupulous Cape Colony politicians who wanted to create an incident in order to annex the Boer Republic’s for their mineral wealth. Regardless of the causes, by the end of 1905 both sides were assembling their forces for what they hoped to be a short war.
Launch of the NSMI Crocodile
The year of 1905 saw the French Navy launch His Imperial Majesty’s Ship the NSMI Crocodile the most advanced submarine to date. Although the Crocodile’s abilities are modest compared to modern day submarines it represented a significant improvement over France’s existing submarine force and a leap in naval technology. Equipped with a diesel engine for surface running and large banks of batteries for underwater travel, the Crocodile was also armed with torpedo tubes both on the bow and stern of the vessel. Many naval strategists at the time, especially in Britain, viewed the Crocodile as a dramatic shift in French naval doctrine which had previously been more focused on larger surface vessels than “ship killers” such as the Crocodile.
The NSMI Crocodile in the Bay of Biscay
Approaching the Abyss
The City of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake
The United States
1906 Midterm Elections
The November 1906 Midterm elections produced little change in the makeup of Congress as the Republicans suffered only moderate losses in the House and Senate, allowing them to retain their control on both houses. Most of the Democratic gains made were in the South where resentment over the newly passed 14th Amendment had angered racial conservatives.
The Great San Francisco Earthquake
On April 18, 1906 at approximately 5:13am the San Francisco area was rocked by an enormous earthquake. Estimated to have measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, the earthquake sparked a series of massive fires which destroyed the majority of the city of San Francisco. An estimated 3,400 people died in the earthquake and ensuing fires making it one of the worst natural disasters in American history.
Photograph of one of the many Boer guerrila bands fighting the British in the Transvaal
Stalemate in South Africa
During the initial phase of the war a series of British outpost and garrisons fell under siege when Boer forces launched a preemptive strike into British controlled Cape Colony and Natal. After initial attempts to relieve these besieged garrisons failed, the British Army increased the number of troops being sent to South Africa, eventually reaching 190,000 the largest British Army sent over sea at that time. Ultimately the Boer offensive into Cape Colony and Natal failed and the British eventually managed to push the Boers out of British South Africa. However the British suffered a surprisingly high number of casualties as the Boers, armed with the latest French magazine fed rifles and machine guns, inflicted devastating losses. Pretoria, the capital of the South African Republic fell on July 25th, 1906. Unfortunately, the fall of Pretoria did not end the war as the Boers began a vicious guerrilla war against the occupying British forces.
The Russo-Japanese War
On October 10th, 1906 the Empire of Japan declared war on Russia after negotiations broke down between the two nations regarding their respective spheres of influence in Manchuria as well as their stance on the Chinese Civil War. Within hours of issuing the declaration, the Japanese Navy attacked the Russian ports of Vladivostok and Port Arthur damaging the Russian fleet before being forced to withdraw. Although winter was fast approaching, the Japanese Army immediately sent tens of thousands of troops north into Manchuria while at home mobilizing hundreds of thousands of more troops for the war effort. Nicholas II was shocked by the Japanese attack and began mobilizing an army of over half a million men to combat the Japanese. The Russians also ordered their Baltic Fleet to redeploy to the Pacific to relieve the blockaded ports of Vladivostok and Port Arthur. In China, both the Republican and Imperial factions were outraged by the thousands of Japanese and Russian troop pouring into Manchuria. However, as the civil war was then raging throughout China there was little either side could do about the conflict.
Russian troops defending Port Arthur in Manchuria
The Great War
Last photograph of Otto, King of Bavaria (1890-1907)
1907 would go down in history along with other years like 1492 and 1789 as marking the beginning of a new era. Indeed many historians would remark later that the twentieth century didn’t start on 1900 but on 1907 when the world would be drastically and irreversible changed.
The Bavarian Crisis
The series of events that would ultimately lead to the Great War began in the Kingdom of Bavaria. This largely Catholic south German state had lived an uneasy existence for most of the past century due to it being wedged between the larger powers of Prussia, Austria-Hungry, and farther to the west, Imperial France. Since 1890, Bavaria had been ruled by King Otto who succeeded to the thrown after the death of his brother Ludwig II. Of questionable mental health, Otto’s reign had been largely controlled by Otto’s uncle, Prince Regent Luitpold. On August 3, 1907 King Otto at the age of 59 mysteriously died, presumably of a heart attack. Without heirs, Otto’s regent Prince Luitpold claimed the thrown as King Luitpold I. At the age of 86, the conservative anti-Prussian Luitpold was hardly the breath of fresh air that many Bavarians wished for, who had since 1864 been ruled by two possibly insane kings (Ludwig II and Otto) and now an octogenarian.
King of Bavaria
Unhappiness about the ascension of Luitpold soon led to rumors and accusations that he had orchestrated the death of his nephew in order to seize the throne. Unhappiness led to unrest when demonstrations against Luitpold in Munich turned into riots. Things became volatile when on September 17th, 1907, in what many historians view as a fatal mistake, Luitpold called out a reserve regiment of fusiliers to quell the rioters. Why Luitpold chose a reservist regiment instead of more loyal regular troops has been the subject of much debate but it would appear that the aging Luitpold didn’t want to “sully the reputation” of the Bavarian Army by putting down “rabble.” Furthermore Luitpold believed that the fusiliers could prove their loyalty to the new regime by squashing the rioters. In the end, the reservists refused to fire on their countrymen and soon joined the rioters.
These developments might have petered out had not the lower house of the Bavarian parliament, which deeply resented Luitpold’s apparent usurpation of the monarchy, then decided to adopted the armed rioters and mutinous troops as “The Bavarian People’s Guard.” Luitpold in retaliation dissolved Parliament on September 25th. Refusing to dissolve, the Bavarian Parliament on September 27th abolished the monarchy and declared the existence of the Bavarian Republic. Anti-monarchist rebellions soon spread to other Bavarian cities. Luitpold, who by this point had fled to Rosenheim where loyalist troops were gathering, requested that France and Austria-Hungry send troops into Bavaria in order to crush the rebellion. In turn, on October 1st, the republican Bavarian leaders requested that Prussia send forces to “protect their German brethren.”
Declarations of War
“This is the moment we have been waiting for!” Napoleon IV is reported to have exclaimed upon learning of the Bavarian Republic’s August 1st request for assistance. Tensions had been building in Europe for decades and the moment was now right, thought Napoleon, to finally settle the score. Russia was heavily engaged on the other side of the world against Japan, and Britain was fighting a brutal guerrilla war in South Africa. With these two powers distracted, Napoleon believed that France could once and for all could deal with their Prussian nemesis. On the morning of October 3rd, 1907 Napoleon IV appeared in person before the Imperial Senate and requested a declaration of war against Prussia “in order to safeguard the nations of Europe and their legitimate rulers from Teutonic aggression.” The Imperial Senate overwhelming granted the Emperor’s request, despite the fact that at this point the Prussian government had not even agreed to send troops into Bavaria in support of the Republican rebels. Austria-Hungry and the south German states of Wurttemberg and Baden all followed suit within 12 hours and declared war against Prussia. Czar Nicholas II was distraught when he heard the news of the war’s outbreak. Although already fighting a major war against the Japanese in the east, he realized that Russia could not afford to see Prussia, its biggest ally, succumb to Russia’s enemies. Reluctantly, Czar Nicholas II successfully asked the Russian Duma to honor their treaty obligations. Therefore, on October 5th, 1907 an already war weary Russia declared war on France and Austria-Hungry.
With Russia in the war, the King of Italy, Umberto I, was convinced that Italy too should come to Prussia’s aid. Although there were many in the Italian government who believed that entering the war would be akin to committing national suicide, Italy’s preexisting treaty with Germany as well as Umberto’s desire to gain French territories in North Africa and settle irredentist claims against Austria-Hungry were enough to secure an Italian declaration of war against France and Austria-Hungry on October 8th. On October 9th, after intense pressure from Emperors Napoleon IV and Maximilian, the Ottoman Empire declared war against Prussia, Italy, and Russia. The Great War had finally begun.
Map showing the Belligerents of the Great War as of October 9th, 1907.
The Entente Impériale is in blue. Alliance members are in Red.
Last edited by Mac Gregor; July 8th, 2011 at 07:37 PM..
Napoleon IV married Gisela Louise Marie, the daughter of former Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and the niece of the current Emperor of Austria-Hungry Maximilian I, in 1876.
1870's Photograph of Gisela Louise Marie
Empress of the French
The Opening Moves
Part 1: The Invasion of Italy
War Flag of the Kingdom of Italy
On October 11th, 1907 the French 6th Army launched Opération Rivoli, the invasion of the Kingdom of Italy, with over 210,000 men. Occurring just three days after Italy honored its defensive alliance with Prussia and Russia and declared war on the French Empire, the massive French invasion into Northwestern Italy shocked the world. Indeed, most military experts before the war’s outbreak believed that France’s strategy in a general European war would be to rush as many troops as possible towards central Europe to guard against potential Prussian or Russian offensives into their ally Austria-Hungry. Napoleon IV however viewed the situation differently. With Russia distracted fighting Japan, it would be some time before the Russians could mount a serious offensive in Europe, freeing the French to attack Italy, the weakest of the Alliance members. Napoleon believed that occupying Italy would provide a second route to Austria-Hungry and ensure Entente domination of the Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore, Napoleon hoped that by knocking Italy out of the war early he could intimidate the Balkan states and Greece and keep them from entering the war.
The Italian Army was caught completely unprepared by the Imperial onslaught. The Italian King, Umberto I, believed that he would have weeks if not months to prepare his forces as the French and Austrians would be busy fighting the Prussians and Russians in the north. Unfortunately now just days into the war, his still mobilizing army was being squeezed between the French in the west and a significantly smaller Austro-Hungarian force in the east. Having introduced conscription at the turn of the century, the Italian Royal Army could muster around 300,000 men at the start of the war. Although outnumbering the attacking French, the Italians were horribly deficient in terms of machine guns, artillery, and aircraft.
Retreating Italians after the fall of Turin
October 25th, 1907
Frightened Italian units in the Piedmont region began to fall back immediately. French naval superiority in the Mediterranean allowed for the heavy shelling of Genoa on October 15th which the Italians began fortifying in earnest. In the east, the Italians did manage to score an early victory against Austria-Hungry on October 23rd when they successfully repulsed an attack on the Isonzo river. On October 26th Turin fell to the advancing French after a valiant holding action by two Italian divisions allowed most of the Italian troops to escape east to Novara where the Italian army was planning to make a stand. A stand that many felt would decide the Italian campaign.
The Opening Moves
Part 2: The German Front
Defending Prussian troops at the Battle of Saarbrucken
October 20th, 1907
At the outbreak of hostilities, Entente and Alliance forces immediately began jockeying for position along Prussia’s southern border in what would become one of the most intense fronts in the Great War. This however, was not what Prussian strategist had predicted. Prussia’s prewar battle plan had called for a holding action against France in the west and a decisive thrust through Bavaria and into Austria to capture Vienna. This offensive was to be supported by Russian armies in the east who would divert Austro-Hungarian troops by driving towards Budapest. The Prussians believed that once Vienna and Budapest had fallen the Austro-Hungarian empire would collapse. Afterwards the Russo-Prussian armies could turn west and finish off France. Unfortunately for the Prussians and Russians, real world conditions made the implementation of this strategy impossible. Russia was bogged down fighting the Japanese in the Far East, and at the moment could not muster sufficient forces to invade Austria-Hungry. Although there were some in the Prussia General Staff who wished to launch the invasion of Austria anyways, King Fredrick III overruled them stating that it “would leave our beloved Kingdom dangerously exposed.”
With the Prussians unsure on how to proceed it would be the Entente who would make the first moves in central Europe. The first order of business was to “secure” the south German states of Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden. Although technically members of the Entente, the French and Austro-Hungarians took no chances with their allies’ loyalties. In a matter of days these small German states were occupied by advanced elements of the French and Austro-Hungarian Armies. The Prussians too tried to seize as much south German territory as possible but in most cases French armored car units supported by mounted infantry beat them to the best defensive positions. In later years it would be revealed that the French had begun partially mobilizing their forces two weeks before the start of the war, which might account for their early rapid movements along the German front. Furthermore, Entente forces in south Germany used heavy handed methods in procuring supplies from the local population and forced tens of thousands of south German subjects into the military to fight against the Prussians. Needless to say these abrasive tactics caused serious resentment amongst many in the south German states.
The first major battle of war occurred on October 20-21st, 1907 when the Imperial French First, Second, and Third Armies launched the Saar Offensive. Aimed at depriving Prussia of an important industrial region, this massive offensive of over 650,000 troops would illustrate to the world the true horrors of war in the twentieth century. At the two day long Battle of Saarbrucken, French and Prussian armies squared off for the first time. Prussian machine guns mowed down lines of advancing French infantry, until either being outflanked by armored cars or obliterated by French artillery. This battle is also noteworthy for the first recorded use of aircraft for combat when a French reconnaissance plane dropped grenades on a unit of defending Prussian infantry. The costly battle ended when the Prussians decided to fall back north of the Mosel River to avoid being caught between the three way pincers of the attacking French armies.
By the end of October the German front had largely stabilized. Bavaria was occupied mostly by Austrian and Bavarian Royalist troops. The French 4th and 5th Armies took up strong defensive positions north of Darmstadt and Nuremburg respectively. And in the west at the densest part of the front along the Mosel River, French and Prussian troops dug in for what would both sides had begun to realize would be a long and grueling campaign.
The Opening Moves
Part 3: Russia and the Balkans
Tsar of Bulgaria
The Bulgarian Civil War
When war erupted in early October, 1907 the Ottoman vassal state of the Principality of Bulgaria followed its master in declaring war on the Alliance. Many however in orthodox Bulgaria disliked the war from the start as it made them fight with Muslims against fellow Christians. On October 14th, less than a week after the official declaration of war, a group of progressive Bulgarian Army officers attempted a coup against Bulgaria’s leader, Prince Regent Asen. Prince Asen managed to escape from the conspirators but was forced to flee the country. On October 16th the Tsardom of Bulgaria was proclaimed with the pro-Russian Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria as monarch. Tsar Ferdinand declared that Bulgaria was “forever free and independent” from the Ottoman Empire. On October 19th, in a move eerily reminiscent of France’s during the Bavarian Crisis, the Ottoman Empire declared war on Bulgaria in order to return Asen to the thrown and regain control over their former vassal.
The Balkans enter the War
The Turks’ declaration of war against Bulgaria sent shock waves through the Balkans. The Ottoman Empire still controlled a significant amount of territory in Europe, territory that the newly created Balkan nations desired. Furthermore, many in these Slavic and Orthodox nations felt a deep since of kinship with the Russian Empire. Now, with Bulgaria in the war, it seemed to many that the time was ripe to settle the score with the Turks. On October 23, 1907 Serbia’s King Alexander I declared war on Turkey. Greece and Montenegro followed suit and declared war on the Ottoman Empire within a week. Although the other Entente powers reactions were slow, a factor which no doubt aided Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro’s decision to enter the war, France and Austria-Hungry eventually did declared war on the Balkan states on November 3rd. The Kingdom of Romania was the last Balkan state to join the Alliance on November 6, 1907 after it became apparent that Romania would have a bleak future in an Austrian/Ottoman dominated Balkans.
The Russian Front
With the Entente focusing on Italy, Prussia, and now the Balkans, Russia was largely spared the initial onslaught of the war. Already heavily engaged against Japan in the east, Russia was now forced to fight three major powers in the west. Roughly two weeks after Russia entered the war, the Russian Duma passed a series of laws that would became known as the October Acts. These forward thinking measures not only placed the Russian Empire on a total war footing but, unlike the preparations of most other wartime belligerents, prepared Russia for a long war. These include such things as a massive conscription act, expanding the existing rail network, and a dramatic industrialization plan.
Ottoman Soldiers entering Tbilisi
November 9th, 1907
In an October 7th meeting in St. Petersburg, Czar Nicholas II and the Russian General Staff decided to pursue a generally defensive strategy until they had amassed sufficient forces in European Russia to advance into Entente territory. The Ottomans however struck first by launching a surprise offensive into the Caucuses. The Turks made good progress against the lightly defended region capturing thousands of Russian troops at the Battle of Tbilisi on November 9th.
In conclusion, as winter approached the Russian and Balkan theaters were in a state of flux with millions of troops being mobilized and shuffled to their respective fronts. Russia was biding its time while it built up its forces. The Ottoman Empire was launching a major offensive through the Caucuses, and the simmering Balkan states had entered the war.
Select Neutral Nations and their Reactions to the Great War
This installment will briefly discuss several of the current neutral powers in the Great War and their disposition towards the belligerents.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Recruitment poster for the expanding British Army
With the outbreak of war in the autumn of 1907 the United Kingdom, the greatest industrial and naval power in Europe, declared its neutrality and watched uneasily on the Entente powers aggression. Great Britain’s policy towards Europe had always been to maintain a balance of power, in other words not letting one country dominate the continent. Imperial France however, with its declaration of war on Prussia, was beginning to challenge this notion.
In a sense, the current disposition of many in Britain was an inversion of their policy 50 years ago. During the Crimean War (1853-1856), the United Kingdom fought with France and the Ottoman Empire against Russia whom they saw as a serious threat to their south Asian possessions. Furthermore, there were several British policy makers at the time who feared that rapidly industrializing Prussia would challenge Britain in a naval arms race. By the early 20th century however, the geo-political situation was very different. Anglo-French relations had been souring for decades as the French Empire had industrialized and expanded at an alarming pace. Russia had also liberalized into a functioning constitutional monarchy and focused its attentions away from British India, two things which greatly improved Russo-British relations.
In short, as 1908 approached anti-Entente sentiments in the United Kingdom were on the rise. Large segments of the British public felt a since of kinship with what they viewed as Protestant Prussia’s heroic stand against Napoleonic aggression. The French blockade of Russia and Prussia in the North Sea was also causing considerable tensions as the Royal Navy was uneasy about France’s presence in its home waters. In light of these developments and the ongoing guerrilla war in the Boer Republics, Britain in late 1907 began to greatly expand its navy and army.
Kingdom of Spain
A deeply conservative monarchy, the Kingdom of Spain at the start of the war favored the largely catholic Entente. The sorry state of the Spanish military and the few foreseeable gains for entering the war however, kept Spain neutral.
Kingdom of Portugal
Following the lead of its chief ally the United Kingdom, Portugal maintained in 1907 a pro-Alliance neutrality.
The Low Countries
Kingdom of Belgium
Its independence and perpetual neutrality being guaranteed by the 1839 Treaty of London, Belgium maintains a very strict neutrality in order to stay out of the war.
Kingdom of the Netherlands
An important Prussian trading partner, the Netherlands favors the Alliance but is careful to not upset the French.
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Situated dangerously close to some of the most intense fighting of the war, the tiny country of Luxembourg was desperate to stay out of the fighting. Luxembourg however, was unsuccessful in getting other neutral nations such as the United Kingdom, Belgium or the Netherlands in signing a defensive agreement to officially guarantee the small Duchy’s independence.
United Kingdom of Sweden and Norway
Although despite having some irredentist claims against Russia, the United Kingdom of Sweden and Norway favored the Alliance. This was mostly due to Prussia being an important export market for Swedish iron, a commodity that was desperately needed in the Prussian war effort.
Kingdom of Denmark
King of Denmark
Having lost the southern provinces of Schleswig and Holstein to Prussia in 1864, the Kingdom of Denmark resents their powerful southern neighbor. At the start of the Napoleon IV offered the return of those provinces if Denmark would enter the war against the Alliance. However, the aging King Christian IX refused the offer, stating that the “current disparity of forces does not lend itself to Denmark joining the war at this time.”
Having been ruled by the Qajar dynasty since 1794, the Persian Empire deeply resents the encroaching powers of Imperial Russia and Britain. Furthermore having suffered territorial loses to Russia in the 1880’s Persia is seriously contemplating joining the war against the Alliance.
Although both the Imperial and Republican factions in China are officially neutral, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Japan in Manchuria has severely strained the already abysmal Sino-Japanese and Sino-Russian relations. Clashes between Chinese elements and Russian and Japanese forces are not uncommon but both sides are two distracted by the Chinese Civil War and the Great War respectively to become heavily engaged.
The United States of America
American Secretary of State William McKinley and Secretary or War Theodore Roosevelt
From the start of the conflict the United States has maintained a firm pro-Alliance stance. The reasons for this are several fold. First, the United States dislikes France’s encroachment in the New World as seen in the Panama Canal and France’s alliances with Brazil and Colombia. Secondly, the United States has an enormous German, Russian, and Italian immigrant community. Thirdly, the constitutional monarchies of the Alliance are perceived to be more democratic than the more authoritarian and imperialistic Entente powers. Finally France, having declared war on Prussia first, is viewed as the aggressor and a warmonger.
Although at the start of the war a clear majority of Americans favored neutrality, the Republican administration or President Robert T. Lincoln began increasing America’s readiness for war. The military buildup of the past few years was accelerated over the objections of the more isolationist Democratic party. Secretary of State McKinley and Secretary of War Roosevelt, both staunch Francophobes, also began making plans to put pressure on France to end the war. Furthermore, thousands of Americans, many of German extraction, joined the von Stueben Brigade to fight against France on the German Front.
Empire of Brazil
France’s most important ally in South America, the Empire of Brazil maintained a decidedly pro-Entente stance towards the war. Although at the start of the war Empress Isabela I turned down a request from Napoleon IV for Brazil to join the war, Brazil continued to provide France with large quantities of raw materials and agricultural products. Both of which were desperately needed for the French war effort.
 ITTL there was no Treaty of London (1867), Luxembourg has maintained an uneasy independence based largely on a 1869 bilateral agreement between the French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia to have Luxembourg serve as a buffer state.
The Argentine Republic is the second most powerful state in South America. Argentina has experienced considerable economic growth in recent decades and is pretty much where it is in OTL. The Argentine government is highly suspicious of their Brazilian neighbors, and their French allies, and view themselves as the regions legitimate republican leader. As such Argentina maintains close relations with the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent the United States of America. Since the outbreak of the war Argentina has been preparing itself incase Brazil decides to take advantage of the distraction in Europe and launch a war in South America.
Flag of the Argentine Republic
Italian troops defending Novara
November, 1907 – January 1908
The Battle of Novara
After the fall of Turin, Italian forces began fortifying in earnest the northern Italian city of Novara in a last ditch effort to prevent the advancing French from reaching the important industrial city of Milan. The Battle of Novara began on a high note for the Italians when an overconfident French infantry battalion was ambushed at the edge of the city’s defenses on November 4, 1907. Over the following weeks however the invading French increasingly encircled the besieged Italians expanding their works to the north and south of the city. Italian efforts to reinforce Novara were hampered as Austro-Hungarian forces made repeated attempts to cross the Isonzo River in order to move on Venice. This forced the Italians to siphon off tens of thousands of troops and much need supplies from the Piedmont Front in the west. The Italians put up a valiant defense, inflicting surprisingly high casualties on the French attackers. The French however, had a clear superiority in artillery and aircraft which began to take its toll on the beleaguered Italians.
On December 19, 1907 the French completed their encirclement of Novara. General Luigi Cadorna commander of Italian forces on the Piedmont Front heroically held the city until January 3rd, 1908 when the exhaustion of the garrison’s ammunition supply forced him to surrender to the French. Altogether 102,000 Italian soldier were captured in the Novara pocket. The French however paid dearly for their success suffering an estimated 105,000 killed and wounded since the start of the Italian Campaign. With the capture of Novara the road to Milan was now open. On January 15th after short but brutal street fighting Milan fell to the French.
Assassination of King Umberto I
King of Italy
3 March 1878-19 January 1908
On January 19th, less than a week after the defeat at Novara, the King of Italy Umberto I was assassinated by a socialist radical named Giancarlo Rossetto while returning from a meeting with the Pope. Umberto I’s murder threw the Italian government into chaos. The dead king’s only child, the unpopular 37 year old Princess Lucia, was installed as Queen. Unlike her father, Queen Lucia heeded the advice of her defeatist ministers and within days of taking the thrown requested an armistice with the Entente Powers. At noon on January 28, 1908 the Kingdom of Italy officially withdrew from the Great War.
Treaty of Milan
Signed in the early days of February 1908, the Treaty of Milan outlined the harsh conditions of the Kingdom of Italy’s withdraw from the Great War. First and foremost, Napoleon IV coveted northern Italy as he wanted to be able to transport troops to his Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman allies and prevent Italy from threatening France in the future. In order to due this a “zone of perpetual occupation” was established north of the Tanaro and Po Rivers. This all but officially annexed northern Italy. The regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, and the Aosta Valley went to France while Veneto and Friuli–Venezia Giulia went to Austria-Hungry. These areas included many of the most important industrial centers in the country such as Turin, Milan, and Venice. Furthermore, severe restrictions were placed on the future size of the Italian army and navy. Although severe, many modern historians believe that Italy at the time had little choice but to accept the treaty’s terms, as further fighting at the time would have lead to greater loss of territory. Importantly the treaty did not demand reparations form Italy or confiscate the Italian army’s remaining equipment.
Domestic and Foreign Reaction
Italy’s capitulation shocked the world. Although the news was softened by Prussia’s victory at the Battle of the Mosel, the remaining Alliance powers were deeply concerned by the swiftness of Italy’s collapse. Furthermore, with Italy now out of the way hundreds of thousands of Entente soldiers were now free to fight on other fronts. Emperors Napoleon IV and Maximilian I were reported to be thrilled by the news prompting Napoleon to declare “what it took my great uncle to do in a year in 1796 I have accomplished in three months!”
In Italy the Treaty of Milan had enormous consequences. Many Italians felt betrayed by the armistice citing Italian success on the Isonzo front and the heroic performance at Novara as reasons for Italy to continue the war. Now having ceded the most populace and industrial section of the country many Italians lost faith in the monarchial regime. Over the next few months the political situation in Rome became increasingly unstable with many beginning to look for an alternative to Queen Lucia.
The Battle of the Mosel
Invasion of Luxembourg
French troops posing for a picture in Luxembourg City
February 24th, 1908
December, 1907-March, 1908
First Battle of the Mosel
On December 2nd, 1907 the First and Second Imperial French Armies launched a massive offensive north from the recently conquered Saarland across the Mosel River in order to invade the Prussian province of the Rhineland. The offensive was a disaster for the French from the start. Although the French preceded their attack with an enormous artillery bombardment, the River Mosel proved a formidable obstacle to their advance. For a full week the French tried in vain to expand their tiny lodgments on the north bank. On December 9th, the Prussians counterattacked regaining all of the north bank and most of the city of Trier. French losses were staggering with modern estimates around 220,000 casualties while Prussia suffered only 98,000. The French commander, the aging Marshal Anatole Philippe, was relieved of command and replaced by 56 year old Marshal Ferdinand Foch.
Marshal of France
Second Battle of the Mosel
While the Alliance Powers were celebrating their victory at the Mosel River over Christmas, Marshal Foch was developing a radical new plan to reverse French fortunes. Named Opération Hannibal in honor of the Carthaginian commander at the battle of Cannae, the audacious plan called for the First and Second Imperial French Armies to again attack north across the Mosel River to fix the Prussians while elements from the recently won Italian campaign would “traverse” neutral Luxembourg bypassing the Mosel River and flank the defending Prussians. Emperor Napoleon IV was concerned about the backlash from invading Luxembourg, a neutral nation, but decided in the end that it was worth the risk.
On the morning of February 22nd, 1908 the second Battle of the Mosel began with the First and Second French Armies again attacking north. Surprised that the French would launch a major assault in such harsh winter weather the Prussians rushed additional troops to the river. On February 23rd a composite force of 6th Army elements and fresh units invaded Luxembourg. The Luxembourgers only managed to put up a token defense as the French moved rapidly through their tiny country. Within a matter of days the invading French made good use of armored cars and mounted infantry to smash through the lightly defender Prussia-Luxembourg border and race to the Rhine. On March 3rd, 1908 French forces reached the outskirts of Bonn on the Rhine. The Prussian commander Alfred von Schlieffen is reported to have said of the French flanking attack through Luxembourg that it was “a damn good idea.” Nearly encircled, the defending Prussian forces on the Mosel had no choice but to attempt to withdraw to the east bank of the Rhine. By March 10th the battle was over with France having scored an enormous victory at the cost of 90,000 casualties. Prussian loses were placed around 170,000 including large amounts of artillery and supplies that had to be left behind.
Flag of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Foreign Reaction to the Invasion of Luxembourg
Foreign reaction to the French invasion of Luxembourg ranged from plain shock to total outrage. Officially, Luxembourg’s independence was guaranteed by a 1869 bilateral agreement between France and Prussia. Many foreign powers like Britain therefore viewed Luxembourg’s invasion as a flagrant disregard for international law. France’s invasion of this small neutral nation also drove other smaller powers such as Belgium and the Netherlands further into the Alliance camp. In the United States the invasion turned the already Francophobic public more and more towards the Alliance.
Austria-Hungary and the Balkans
November, 1907- June, 1908
Painting of Bulgarian seperatist fighting the Ottomans
The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy entered the Great War in a precarious place both geographically and politically. As of November, 1907 Austria-Hungary found its self literally surrounded by enemies with Prussia to the north, Italy to the southwest, Russia and Romania to the east, and Serbia and Montenegro to the south for a minimum of six different fronts. Of these Russia posed the most direct threat to the Dual Monarchy as Prussia was largely tied down fighting France in the west. As such, at the outbreak of the war Austria-Hungary launched an offensive into Russian Poland towards the city of Warsaw. When Warsaw fell on January 7, 1908 Austro-Hungarian Emperor Maximilian I proclaimed the creation of the Kingdom of Poland to be created out of all the polish lands of Russia and Prussia. This was not only meant to stir up the polish subjects of Russia and Prussia but also to try and physically divide the two allies from each other. Although this new Polish state was quickly recognized by the other Entente powers the response from the local population was not nearly as enthusiastic as was hoped for. The Poles loyalty to their Russian masters was largely due to the increasing levels of autonomy given to Russian Poland in recent decades. Furthermore, the capture of Warsaw created a large salient into Russian territory that was increasingly feeling pressure from the Prussians in the west and the Russians in the east. Efforts to expand the “Warsaw Salient” were sharply curtailed with the entry into the war of the Balkan states which required the redeployment of hundreds of thousands of Austro-Hungarian troops.
Although less than a year into the Great War and on the winning side, Austria-Hungary was already by the summer of 1908 feeling the destabilizing effects of the war. Many revolutionary groups saw the war as a chance to create independent states or merge with neighboring homelands instead of remaining subjects of the heterogeneous Austro-Hungarian Empire. Furthermore, with neighboring Russia gathering strength it was becoming increasingly crucial to knock out the smaller Alliance powers so the Entente could concentrate their forces for the inevitable Russian counterattack.
Austro-Hungarian troops near Warsaw
Kingdom of Serbia and the Principality of Montenegro
Within weeks of entering the war in late October of 1907, Serbia and Montenegro launched a quick offensive to capture the small strip of Ottoman territory that separated the two nations. This effectively severed the small land connection between Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Although having to leave considerable forces on their northern borders to defend against Austria-Hungary, these two nations began pushing into Ottoman held Europe starting in the winter of 1908. Slowly but surely, the Serbs began liberating territory that the Ottomans had held for centuries.
Kingdom of Romania
With its chief war aim to annex the Romanian majority areas of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Romanian invaded Transylvania in December of 1907. After initial success, the Romanian offensive ground to a halt as Austro-Hungarian reinforcements began arriving in mass. The Kingdom of Romania also sent troops into neighboring Bulgaria to support its efforts in gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire. These troops however were pushed out of Bulgaria in April, 1908 by a strong Ottoman counteroffensive.
Kingdom of Greece
Greece attacked swiftly into Ottoman held Thessaly beginning in late November, 1907. Unlike their fellow Balkan allies however, they meet with less success as a grueling war of attrition set in as the Greeks made slow and painful progress as they crawled their way north.
Flag of the Kingdom of Greece
The Sublime Ottoman State
The Ottoman Empire was initially caught off guard by the Balkan nations joining the war on the side of the Alliance. However, starting in the spring of 1908 the Ottomans began pouring their troops into southeastern Europe. This caused Turkish fortunes to improve, starting in Bulgaria where in early April the separatist forces of the so called “Kingdom of Bulgaria” had been pushed back into Romania. By the end of June, 1908 the Turks had largely slowed or stopped Alliance gains in the Balkans and would soon be able to launch their own counteroffensive to regain lost territory.
Ottoman victories in the Balkans came at a price elsewhere though. The massive redeployment of troops caused the Ottoman offensive in the Caucasus’s to grind to a halt. Furthermore, a rebellion was fomenting on the Arabian Peninsula, which was producing a series of embarrassing small scale defeats for the Turks. The Ottoman’s claims that the rebellion was being fomented by the neighboring British did nothing but exacerbate deteriorating Anglo-Ottoman relations.
Ottoman Troops in the Balkans
The Bear Awakens
Imperial Russia: June 1908-February 1909
Flag of the Russian Empire
Less than a year after being attacked by the Empire of Japan in October of 1906, the Russian Empire was forced to honor its treaty commitments with Prussia and entered the Great War against the Entente Imperiale. Since then the Russians had suffered an almost unbroken string of defeats from being pushed back in Manchuria by the Japanese, to losing the Caucasus to the Ottomans, and having half of Poland taken by the Austro-Hungarians.
Despite these loses however, Emperor Nicholas II realized that the Empire’s position was not as perilous as it might appear. Nicholas knew from the beginning that his country’s vast population and territory favored Russia in a long war. As such Nicholas and the Russian General Staff took their time in training their armies, expanding the nation’s rail network, and building up the munitions industries necessary to wage the war. By the summer of 1908 the Russian Empire was ready to go on the offensive.
The Far East
The Empire of Japan suffered its first serious defeat of the war in early June of 1908 at the battle of Khabarovsk. At the battle, Russian forces decimated the Japanese 3rd Army and relieved the city which had been besieged for months. Following this victory the Russians launched a general offensive which over the next few months began pushing the Japanese back towards the Korean Peninsula. Several major battles ensued at places like Harbin and Changchun in which casualties on both sides would invariable reach into the tens if not hundreds of thousands. On November 28, 1908 Russian troops lifted the siege of Vladivostok which had been encircled by Japanese forces for almost a year. As winter set in the front stabilized as Japanese forces began to construct an impressive line of fortifications, collectively known as the Mutsuhito Line, running from Port Arthur on the Yellow Sea then along the Yalu River to Chongjin on the Pacific coast.
The Baltic Fleet
Photograph of a Russian Battleship of the Baltic Fleet
Philippine Islands, 1908
A few months after the outbreak of war against Japan and after much debate the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet was ordered to the Pacific to relieve the blockaded ports of Vladivostok and Port Arthur. News of Russia’s declaration of war against France however reached the Russian fleet as it was passing British Hong Kong. In what would become one of the most celebrated events of the war, the commander of the Russian Fleet, Admiral Igor Golubev, decided not to proceed north to fight what would in all likely be a losing battle against the Japanese. Instead, he directed his fleet to raid Entente shipping in the Pacific. Over the next 15 months, the Baltic fleet would sink or capture hundreds of French, Austrian, Turkish, and Japanese vessels from Indochina to the Philippines to New Guinea. Using coal and food commandeered from captured enemy ships the Russian fleet was largely able to sustain itself. Furthermore Great Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States provided the Russians with intelligence and secret shipments of fuel and provisions that allowed the Baltic Fleet to stay one step ahead of the Entente. The climax of the campaign came on August 7, 1908 when the Baltic Fleet successful escaped from a Franco-Japanese task force sent to stop it of the course of Guam, sinking the French cruiser the NSMI Napoleon II in the process. On January 3, 1909, after sailing north around the Japanese home islands, the Baltic Fleet successfully breached the Japanese blockade of Vladivostok, completing one of the most memorable episodes in Russian naval history.
On July 24, 1908 Russian forces on the Caucasus front launched Operation Pytor. Named in honor of Peter the Great, the Russian offensive liberated the city of Grozny from the Ottomans, and began pushing the Turkish lines southward. Although the Turks would make the Russians pay dearly for every mile gained, Russian superiority in numbers gradually wore the Ottomans down. By February 2, 1909 Tbilisi was liberated from the Turks after a ferocious battle in which both sides suffered over 100,000 casualties.
The Warsaw Campaign
Russian Troops entering Warsaw
Starting in July of 1908, in what would be called the Warsaw or Polish Campaign, the Russian Army began pushing the Austro-Hungarians out of Russian Poland. Russian manpower soon began to tell as the noose tightened around the Warsaw Salient. Reading the writing on the wall, on October 11, 1908 Emperor Maximilian I ordered the beginning of a withdrawal of Austro-Hungarian forces from Poland. On November 9, 1908 Warsaw was officially liberated by Russian troops. Much to their credit, the Austro-Hungarian Army conducted an impressive fighting withdrawal south towards their own borders inflicting serious casualties on the attacking Russians. Although the Warsaw Campaign was an important victory for the Russian Empire their inability to trap the retreating Austro-Hungarian Army passed up a golden opportunity to inflict a serious defeat on the Entente.
The German Front
April 1908-February 1909
Attacking French Infantry during the Rhineland Offensive
The Rhineland Offensive
1908 would see Prussia’s fortunes in the Great War plummet to new lows. After the disastrous defeat at the Second Battle of the Mosel in March, the Prussian General Staff did their utmost to hold onto the northern portion of the west bank of the Rhine. Unfortunately for the Kaiser’s troops, their efforts proved to be to little to late. On April 30, 1908 France again took to the offensive and launched a massive attacked northward from their lines west of the Rhine River. The Rhineland Offensive would prove to be a slow and arduous campaign, consisting of a series of battles as the Prussians were forced and further and further north. The Prussians were able to inflict serious casualties on the assaulting French as they fell back to prepared positions. In the end, French tactics and superior numbers of armored cars and aircraft forced the Prussians to complete their withdrawal to the eastern bank of the Rhine by August 2, 1908. Napoleon IV was reported to be overwhelmed, congratulating Marshal Foch on the victory he declared “At last, those Teutonic barbarians have been evicted from our God given soil and the natural eastern border of the Empire has been secured!”
The North Sea
French Submarine sinking a freighter in the North Sea
After Italy’s withdrawal from the conflict, the North Sea became the dominate naval theater of the war. The Imperial French navy was the largest Entente player in the region and was primarily concerned with stopping supplies from reaching Prussian and Russian ports. Understandably the Alliance was determined to break the blockade. Another factor which complicated the North Sea Theater was that it was almost entirely surrounded by neutral nations such as Great Britain, the premier naval power of the day. By the winter of 1909, the situation in the North Sea was becoming increasingly tense due to several high profile incidents. Chief among these were the “accidental” sinkings of the British freighter Baldwin in June of 1908 when it tried to run the French blockade and of the American passenger ship Hartford, enroot to Sweden, on January, 5 1909 costing over 300 American lives.
The Invasion of Saxony
On the one year anniversary of the start of the war, a combined French, Bavarian, and Austro-Hungarian force invaded the Prussian controlled Kingdom of Saxony. By invading Saxony the Entente chose the shortest route to the Prussian capital of Berlin. Unbeknownst to the Alliance the Saxon offensive was actually intended to draw Prussian troops away from the western part of the country in preparation for the upcoming attack into Hesse-Nassau. Unfortunately for the Entente, the diversionary attack into heavily fortified Saxony cost them tens of thousands of lives and failed to capture the Saxon capital of Dresden before the offensive ground to a halt.
The Hesse-Nassau Campaign
Prussian POWs captured during the Hesse-Nassau Campaign
On January 6, 1909 the French, along with sizable contingents from their south German allies, launched a massive offensive which, if successful, would put France in a position to win the war. The ultimate goal of the Hesse-Nassau Campaign was to open up an attack route to the north into the industrial Ruhr area of Prussia’s Westphalia Province. Napoleon IV and his marshals believed that if the Ruhr’s armament factories were captured along with the eastern bank of the Rhine the Prussians would be forced to sue for peace. With Prussia out of the way, the French could then mass their forces, and with the rest of Europe subdued, turn and defeat Russia.
The Entente offensive met with great success. Frankfurt fell to the French 4th Army on January 24, 1909. As the campaign continued into February the frigid winter weather only managed to slow the attacking French as the Prussians were forced further and further north. In short, the situation on Prussia’s western front was becoming increasingly desperate. So desperate in fact that Kaiser Fredrick III was reported to have remarked to an aid that if help didn’t come soon “the Kingdom’s cause and the cause of German freedom would be doomed.”
The Balkans, June 1908-February 1909
Flag of the Sublime Ottoman State
The second half of 1908 would see the Entente win a string of victories against the Alliance in the Balkans. Having regained Bulgaria, the Ottomans launched a massive counteroffensive, known as Operation Osman, in order to link up with their Austro-Hungarian allies. Operation Osman proved to be a great success with the Principality of Montenegro capitulating on October 3, 1909, making it the second Alliance country to drop out of the war. Prince Nicholas and the royal family were forced to flee to neutral Italy.
Serbia also suffered greatly at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. At the Battle of Pristina the Serbs lost 38,000 men over the course of two days. Belgrade even came under siege by the Turks in December of 1908. Romania began to lose ground to the Austro-Hungarians as they were forced to redirect forces to their southern border to guard against the advancing Ottomans. The Kingdom of Greece was in even worse shape. By February of 1909 the Turks had pushed the Greeks back all the way to the Attica Peninsula. Furthermore, Greece being completely surrounded by Turkish, Austro-Hungarian, and French warships was virtually cut off from the outside world. George I, King of the Hellenes, had no illusions about his nation’s prospects if help didn’t arrive soon, estimating that Greece would be forced to surrender in three months if shipments of food and ammunition didn’t arrive.
King of the Hellenes
Africa in the Great War
French African Troops in France (note the new steel helmets)
From the start of the Great War through the end of 1908, Africa saw virtually no direct fighting between the Entente and Alliance nations as neither Italy, Prussia, nor Russia had any colonies on the continent. However, the French controlled Suez Canal served as a vital link to the Indian and Pacific oceans and saw an enormous amount of trafficking, both military and trade, for the Entente. North African ports were also used by the Entente navies to conduct operations against Italy and later Russia.
Africa’s greatest contribution to date were the untold hundreds of thousands of laborers and soldiers conscripted to fight for the French Empire. It is also important to note that the colonial garrisons in French Africa had been greatly reduced during these years as all available troops were needed on the Prussian Front. The three remaining independent African states, Liberia, Morocco, and Ethiopia, declared their strict neutrality in the conflict and continued to wait to see who would emerge victorious in the ongoing war.
In South Africa, the Second Anglo-Boer War came to a successful end for the United Kingdom when in August of 1908, after nearly three years of fighting, the Boer Republics were finally subdued. In the Treaty of Pretoria, both the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State agreed to lay down their arms, swear allegiance to the crown, and were annexed by the British into the newly created Dominion of South Africa. Although the war cost the British an estimated 15,000 killed it taught the British army many valuable lessons about war in the modern age and proved to be an excellent testing ground for new weapons, new tactics, and new leaders.
Boer Commander surrendering to British Troops
Four more Years for RTL
The 1908 Presidential Elections
President Robert Todd Lincoln
As the 1908 elections approached, the question on the American public’s mind was whether President Robert T. Lincoln would, or should, run for a third term. Over the years much has been written about the unprecedented reelection of RTL for a third term but it is first important to understand the setting and Lincoln’s motivation for seeking reelection yet again.
In 1908, Lincoln, at the age of 65, could look back after two terms in office on a long list of accomplishments. Having taken officer during the height of the Depression, Lincoln and his Republican controlled government had steadily brought the country out of financial destitution through a series of wise measures including reducing tariffs, public work projects, and naval and munitions production. With the passing of the 14th Amendment civil rights were being extended to an ever greater number of Americans, and Cuba, Arizona, and New Mexico had all been successfully brought into the Union. Furthermore, the U.S. Military both on land and on sea were at their greatest strength since the Civil War.
In the end it was probably a combination of factors which led RTL to run for a third term. The most important of which was undoubtedly the war in Europe. Lincoln is said to have remarked to his youngest son William that “What I am suppose to do if America joins the war? Merely watch from the front porch? No son, if war is inevitable I will see my country safely through.” Secondly, Lincoln was a career politician and had been an elected official nearly his entire adult life, and many historians and political scientist have speculated that RTL dreaded being out of the public limelight. Furthermore, some modern day political scientists, such as Conner N. Baymont, have suggested that Lincoln’s desire for a third term was an attempt to outshine the accomplishments of his illustrious father.
The Republican National Convention
Lincoln’s re-nomination as the Republican candidate was far from certain. At the 1908 Republican Convention, held in Nashville, Tennessee, many felt that, while Lincoln had done a remarkable job as president, Washington’s two term precedent should be respected and that it was time for other politicians to get their chance at the White House. Many of the more domestically progressive and isolationist Republicans favored Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin. Other more business focused Republicans favored Leslie M. Shaw of Iowa. Furthermore, Lincoln’s own Secretary of War Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt of New York was being promoted by hawkish elements in the Republican Party as a possible candidate as well. Lincoln however, wasn’t without friends. On the second day of the convention Secretary of State, and former vice presidential candidate, William McKinley gave a rousing speech where he extolled the “enumerable virtues of our most honorable President.” When interrupted by a shout declaring “no president has ever had three terms!” McKinley retorted “indeed, and we have never had a President like Robert Todd Lincoln!” to the delight of the crowd. On the third day Lincoln, secured the nomination by a safe but not extravagant margin. Vice President Nathan Goff was dropped from the ticket however, and replaced with Gov. Andrew Johnson Jr., a 56 year old Democrat turned Republican and the fifth child of a former governor of Tennessee.
Andrew Johnson Jr.
Republican from Tennessee
22nd Vice President of the United States
The Democratic National Convention
Having been out of power in both the executive and legislative branches since 1900, many Democrats saw Lincoln’s unorthodox bid for a third term as a catalyst to try and regain control of the government. The Democrats selected Indianapolis, Indiana for their 1908 National Convention. At the convention, the delegates selected progressive Democrat John W. Kern of Indiana to head the ticket. For Kern’s running mate they selected the more conservative Alton B. Parker of New York.
John W. Kern
Democrat from Indiana
1908 Canidate for President
The campaign for the general election was marked by fiery rhetoric on both sides. The Democrats derided Lincolns candidacy claiming that he was a despotic megalomaniac determined to stay in power “until his death or the completion of the ruin of this country.” Lincoln countered with a pledge saying that if reelected this would be his last term as president. The Democrats also argued that Lincoln was determined to have the United States enter the Great War as shown by the massive U.S. military buildup of the last few years. The Republicans responded by stating that if President Lincoln was a warmonger, as the Democrats said, America would surely already be in the war. Instead the Republicans clamed RTL was “the man who kept us out of war.” The largest Republican selling point however was the booming economy a far cry from the Depression of 1897 under Lincoln’s predecessor Democratic President George A. Custer.
On election day, the American people kept their trust in Lincoln and returned him to the White House, making him the only U.S. President to date to have been elected to more than two terms. Lincoln’s victory however, was by a significantly smaller margin than his previous two elections with the Lincoln-Johnson ticket carrying none of the southern states except Cuba. The Republicans also managed to hold onto their control of Congress but with a substantially increased Democratic minority.
Lincoln’s 1908 Cabinet
Following his electoral victory, President Lincoln began reshuffling his cabinet secretaries. Following the example of his father, RTL sought to incorporate his former Republican rivals into the government. Leslie M. Shaw replaced Jonathan Fisher as Secretary of the Treasury, and Robert M. LaFollet became the Attorney General. The nomination of La Follette’s, a known progressive, sent a message that RTL was serious about continuing to promote women’s and minorities’ civil rights. Victor Metcalf, a close associate of Secretary of War Roosevelt, became the secretary for the newly created Department of Labor and Commerce.
Vice President- Andrew Johnson Jr.
Attorney General- Robert M. La Follette
Secretary of Agriculture- Brandon R. Roland
Secretary of State- William McKinley
Secretary of the Navy- Alfred T. Mahan
Secretary of the Treasury- Leslie M. Shaw
Secretary of the Interior- James W. Fulton
Postmaster General- Kenneth R. Strickland
Secretary of War – Theodore Roosevelt
Secretary of Labor and Commerce- Victor H. Metcalf
La Vision de Napoleon
The Bonaparte-Hanotaux letters
Emperor of the French
Minster of Foriegn Affairs
Few single events have had such an enormous impact of world history as the discovery of the Bonaparte-Hanotaux letters. Handwritten by Emperor Napoleon IV in 1891, to his then foreign minister Albert Auguste Gabriel Hanotaux, the classified letters outlined in detail Napoleon IV’s vision for the French Empire in the 20th Century. Revealed to the world on February 15, 1909 by the London based newspaper The Times, these documents had been smuggled into the United Kingdom by Arnaud Delancy, a French civil servant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Delancy had long been a closet Republican and was deeply distressed over the death of his brother on the Prussian front in what he viewed to be “an unjust war of monarchial expansion.” In early February, Delcancy stole the Bonaparte-Hanotaux letters from the vault in the ministry’s archives, made his way to London, and defected. It was Delcancy’s hope that by revealing Napoleon IV’s plans neutral nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States would help end the war and topple the French monarchy.
In the first of the four Bonaparte-Hanotaux letters, Napoleon IV outlines what he believes to be France’s currently precarious geo-strategic position. He claims that in order for the French Empire to survive it most expand within the next few decades before it is overtaken by industrializing larger nations such as Russia. Napoleon also warns that France must prevent at all costs a unified German state from emerging which would naturally become the dominate force on the continent.
The second letter titled “Première Guerre mondiale”, or World War I in English, described how France should use some minor incident to initiate a general European war. In this “first world war”, Napoleon IV foresaw the French Empire, accompanied by her allies Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and the south German states, at war against an Alliance of Russia, Prussia, Italy, and most likely the Balkan nations. Napoleon IV stressed in the letter that everything possible should be done to prevent the United Kingdom from entering the war on side of the enemy. The Emperor also mentions that it would be best if the war could coincide with a conflict between Japan and Russia. The letter continues by then outlining France’s strategy in the war, stating that Italy should fall in 6 months, Prussia in 2 years, and Russia in 3 to 4 years. As detailed in the accompanying map, post war Europe would see French vassal states carved out of defeated Prussia, Russia, and Italy. These vassal states, all of which would have a pro French ally on the thrown, would include the new kingdoms and duchies of Poland, the Ukraine, Westphalia, Belarussia, the Baltic, and Finland. Italy was to be divided into a Duchy of Tuscany in the north, a rump Kingdom of Italy in the south, and a revived Papal States in the middle. France itself would annex northwestern Italy, Luxembourg, and the west bank of the Rhine. The Balkans and Greece would be divided between the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarians.
The third letter stated that even after France emerged victorious in the world war, it would still not be in a position to ensure global dominance and that another and even larger war of expansion would be needed. Napoleon IV stated that within 18 to 25 years of the first global conflict, a second world war, Seconde Guerre mondiale, would erupt as the defeated powers sought revenge. In this second world war, Great Britain was likely to become a major belligerent. Napoleon predicted that in the inter-war years France will be able to overtake the Royal Navy and when hostilities commenced blockade Britain into submission. When the war ended with France victorious, the British Empire would be dissolved with her African colonies being annexed, Ireland and India made into a French puppet states, and the white British dominions gaining independence. Interestingly, Napoleon wished to annex certain New World possessions such as Quebec, Haiti, British Honduras, the Falkland Islands, and British Guyana directly into the French Empire. Prussia would be reduced to a French vassal, and Russia would be further divided losing virtually all access to the sea. China would be divided between the French and Japanese The third letter also mentions bringing the nations of Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil into a tighter French orbit. Written in the 1890’s when the isolationist Democratic Party was in power, Napoleon maintained that the United States would most likely not become involved in the world wars “until it was to late.”
The fourth and final letter discussed France’s position at the end the second world war. France would be the dominate power on the planet, controlling the majority of the world’s population and resources. Napoleon IV continues by discussing a variety of matters such as how the French language and Roman Catholicism would be promoted in the conquered territories as a way to bind the Empire together. The Emperor also states that there might be a third world war in the latter half of the 20th Century between France and her allies and the remaining powers of Britain, Scandinavia, the United States, and possibly Japan. However, at this point the French Empire will have grown so strong that no combination of opponents could hope to defeat her. Napoleon closed his the letter by stating that, “God willing, the French Empire will rule the world for the next 5,000 years.”
A map based off of Napleon IV's description of the world following “Première Guerre mondiale”. French vassal/satellite states are in light blue.
A map based off of Napoleon IV's description of the world after Seconde Guerre mondiale. French vassal/satellite states are in light blue.
Britain enters the War
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The term “enraged” can scarcely define the mood in Great Britain when The Times broke the news of the Bonaparte-Hanotaux letters. Francophobia swept the nation, as the cries for war against the Entente Imperiale became deafening. The British Prime Minister, Henry Campbell-Bannerman of the ruling Liberal Party, had up until the letters disclosure done his utmost to keep the United Kingdom out of the War, but now, with the Bonaparte-Hanotaux letters made public, that was impossible. As Great Britain edged ever closer to war, Campbell-Bannerman made one last ditch ever to avert open hostilities. In what has become known as the February Ultimatum, the British Government offered to mediate an end to the war under the conditions that France 1) return all recently conquered territory to Prussia and Italy respectively 2) withdraw all military forces from the south German states 3) renounce any expansionist claims in Europe or overseas, and 4) limit its naval strength to half of that of the Royal Navy’s. Unsurprisingly, Napoleon IV deemed these terms unacceptable as they would nullify all the gains France had made since the start of the war. In an utterly tactless move, the Emperor countered the ultimatum with an invitation for Britain to join the war against the Alliance, stating that “the moment is perfect for His Majesty’s Government to move against our common age old enemy the barbarous Russian Empire” and then after the war Britain would be “offered” dominion over Russia’s Central Asian possessions.
The British government and public were furious with Napoleon’s response, prompting the British Secretary of State for War Richard Haldane to remark “what the Emperor is forgetting is that unlike his Hungarian and Turkish cronies our honor cannot be bought with land stolen from others.” With the ultimatum rejected, the decision to declare war was finally made on February 28, 1909 when after coming to the now obvious realization of what an Entente victory would mean for Britain, Campbell-Bannerman advised King Edward VII to declare war on the Entente powers of the French Empire, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Württemberg, the Duchy of Baden, and the Sublime Ottoman State. The Empire of Japan, which was viewed as more of a co-belligerent and not an ally of France, did not receive a declaration of war.
Britannia had finally entered the fray.
Map of the Great War Belligerents as of February 29, 1909.
The Entente Impériale is in blue. Alliance members are in red. Entente gains are in light blue. Alliance gains are in light red. Please note that the United Kingdom is not at war with the Empire of Japan.
USA all the Way
America joins the War
The United States Congress declaring war on the French Empire
March 8, 1909
The reasons for American intervention in the Great War are numerous and complex. This short section will endeavor to discuss a few of the major factors that ultimately led to the declaration of war against the French Empire on March 8th, 1909.
Starting with the French invasion of Mexico in 1862, America and France had for most of the latter half of the twentieth century had a mutually distrustful and antagonistic relationship. Although the Americans eventually forced the French to withdraw, the French built Panamanian Canal and suspected support for Spain in the 1877-1878 Spanish-American War further exacerbated poor Franco-American relations. Furthermore, the United States deeply resented France's close alliances with certain Latin American nations such as the Empire of Brazil and Columbia.
Ties with the Alliance
Demographically, the United States was heavily tied to the Alliance nations. Indeed, the vast majority of Americans could trace their ancestry back to either British, Irish, German, Italian, Polish, or Russian roots. The United States was also much more ideologically tied to the more liberal governments of the Alliance than to the absolute monarchies of the Entente.
The Bonaparte- Hanotaux Letters
As in Britain, the disclosure of the Bonaparte-Hanotaux Letters unleashed a firestorm of Anti-French sentiment. Although America had a long history of isolationism, Americans were deeply troubled about letting Napoleon IV with his expansionist aims run wild in Europe. Also, Napoleon’s desire to reacquire former French territory in the New World, such as Haiti and Quebec, was a clear violation of the Monroe Doctrine. By the time Britain had entered the war, many Americans believed that if France wasn’t dealt with now the United States would have to deal with a stronger French Empire in the decades to come.
Anxiety about the post war world
The United Kingdom’s entry into the Great War further complicated matters for the United States. Many American policy makers and academics now predicted that with British help the Alliance would eventually emerge victorious. Some, such as Secretary of State McKinley, worried that without America’s “moderating republican influence” the post war world would be dominated by the vengeful states of Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain. To illustrate his fears to Congress during the debate to declare war, McKinley had a map created titled “While America Slept” which showed his idea of the post war world. The map showed Britain having annexed all of France’s oversea colonies. Russia absorbed all of the Orthodox and Turkish parts of the Ottoman Empire, the Balkans, and Hungary. Fracturing China would be divided between the British and Russian Empires. McKinley also claimed that Prussia would form a “German Empire” and dominate the remaining European states. His bleak assessment of the post war situation did much to sway members of Congress who argued that if the Alliance was to emerge victorious anyway why should America join the war.
Sinking of American Ships
Historians largely agree that the incident which ultimately pushed the United States to declare war was the March 2nd sinking of the American passenger ship Macon. The loss of the Macon was the latest in a series of American ships that had been sunk “accidentally” by the Imperial French Navy. The Macon, and her 237 American passengers, had left New York City before the UK had entered the war. As the ship approached the British port of Bristol it was torpedoed by the French submarine Pieuvre which supposedly mistook the vessel for a British troop transport.
The Declaration of War
On March 8, 1909 President Lincoln asked a joint session of Congress to declare war on the French Empire “in order to ensure that liberty and not despotism would prevail in the 20th Century.” The Senate and House of Representatives voted 78 to 20 and 366 to 84 in favor of the declaration. As the House chamber broke into The Battle Cry of Freedom, President Lincoln is reported to have turned to Vice President Johnson and said “now the Emperor will see how freemen fight!”
A recreation of Secretary of State William McKinley's map "While America Slept" which showed his fanciful prediction of what a post war world without American entry into the war might look like.
here is a map of the Great War Belligerents as of March 9, 1909.
The Entente Impériale is in blue. Alliance members are in red. Entente gains are in light blue. Alliance gains are in light red. Please note that the United Kingdom is not at war with the Empire of Japan.
War in the Americas
U.S forces at the Battle of Guadeloupe
The entry of the United States in the Great War turned the conflict into a truly global war as the Western Hemisphere became a new theater of operations. As would be revealed after the war, American Secretary of State, William McKinley, had struck a deal with his British counterpart in the early days of February, 1909, that in the case America and Britain joined the Alliance, the United States would seize all French territory in the New World. This would allow the Lincoln Administration to keep its pledge to uphold the Monroe Doctrine as well as help clear the Western Hemisphere of Entente vessels. As such Secretary of War Theodore Roosevelt made conquering all French colonies in the Americas the Navy and Marine Corp’s primary goal during the early days of American involvement.
The Panama Canal
The single most important Entente possession in the Western Hemisphere was the French built and controlled Panama Canal. The French were well aware of the canal’s importance but also of its utter vulnerability. The United States Navy began blockading both sides of the canal in earnest by mid March, 1909. Although the Canal Zone was protected by a number of coastal fortifications the garrison, like most of France’s colonies, was severely under strength as the majority of troops had been recalled to Europe. The French commander Brigadier General Sinclair Montague attempted to save the canal by “transferring it” to France’s ally the neighboring United States of Colombia. Although the Colombian government was tempted by the offer, they wisely refused when the American naval commander threatened to open fire “on any Colombian forces which might try to take possession of the isthmus’s canal.”
On April 2, 1909 the Battle of Panama began when elements of the 1st Marine Division landed amidst enormous amounts of naval gunfire on the canal’s Pacific coast. After three days of bitter fighting, Panama City fell to the Americans. Although the French canal stretched for nearly another 50 miles, General Montague deemed that it would be only a matter of time before the Americans captured the entire waterway. Therefore, on April 7, 1909 Montague ordered for the locks still under French control to be destroyed and for the remaining French vessels to be scuttled in the canal. Although Montague would surrender the French garrison four days later, the canal was rendered completely inoperable. The United States still possessed its Nicaraguan Canal but the loss of a working Panama Canal proved to be a serious blow to Alliance shipping.
Following the capture of the Canal, the Americans next principal target was French Guiana. France’s only South American territory, Guiana had been ruled by France since 1643. With a population of only 36,000 the small colony provided the French Empire with valuable amounts of raw materials such as gold, timber, and fish and agricultural products. On April 21, 1909 Cayenne, the colony’s capital and largest city, fell to American forces after a brief naval bombardment silenced the city’s defenses. The small French garrison did not stay to defend the city but instead withdrew to the jungle interior to wage a guerrilla war against the invaders. The Guiana Campaign is also notable for the deployment of the San Cristobal Volunteers from the Commonwealth of Santo Domingo. The San Cristobal Volunteers would earn distinction for themselves as fierce jungle fighters as well as being an “integrated” unit consisting of white, black, and mulatto soldiers.
Guadeloupe and Martinique
The Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique were the most populous colonies in France’s New World empire. As such they proved to be the hardest nuts to crack. The Battle of Guadeloupe was the fiercest naval battle fought in the Caribbean, when on May 2, 1909 two U.S. Navy Squadrons attempted to blast the French defenses to pieces. French shore batteries proved especially resilient to American gunfire. The biggest blow however was the sinking of the cruiser USS Danville by a French submarine. Despite the heavy losses, the Americans were eventually able to make a landing on the island, but it would take until the end of May before the island was deemed secure and only after heavy fighting. The taking of Martinique in June was just as difficult and resulted in over 5,000 American casualties before the island was finally subdued.
Saint Barthelemey, Saint Martin, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon
France possessed a few other small islands in the Western Hemisphere. The tiny islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon in the north Atlantic were actually the first piece of French territory to be captured by American forces in the Great War, surrendering on March 12, 1909 after putting up only a ceremonial defense. The small Caribbean islands of Saint Barthelemey and Saint Martin surrendered without a fight on May 11 and May 13 respectively.
In the end, the United States was able to secure all of France’s new world territory in roughly four months. American success came at a price though as they suffered higher casualties than expected. This was surprising considering that France’s Caribbean garrisons were under strength and that the Imperial French Navy, having been recalled to Europe, did not seriously contest American naval dominance. Regardless the string of victories bolstered American moral and strengthen the Lincoln Administration.
The Eastern Front
February- June 1909
Imperial Russian Infantry in Galicia
In the early months of 1909 the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy found itself in an increasingly precarious position. Austria-Hungary had, since the start of the war, made impressive gains against it belligerent neighbors, having conquered Montenegro, northeastern Italy, and most of Serbia. Their attempted to invade Russian Poland however, meet with failure as overwhelming Russian numbers pushed them back into Galicia. In early February of 1909, Austro-Hungarian ruler Emperor Maximilian, having accomplished the majority of his nation’s wartime objectives, thought that the time was right to cut his losses and bring a negotiated end to the war. Later deemed the “Hapsburg Plan,” Maximilian’s proposal was simple, it called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, with France and Austria-Hungary keeping their gains in Italy, Germany, and the Balkans, and the Entente-Russian borders returning to status quo ante bellum. Unfortunately for the Double Monarchy, the Russian Empire would launch two massive offensives into Austro-Hungarian controlled Galicia and Transylvania, shaking the Hapsburg state to its core. Furthermore, Britain and America’s entry into the war dashed any chance that Prussia and Russia would willingly agree to any peace favorable to the Entente.
The Fall of Galicia and Transylvania
After having successfully driven Austrian troops from its Polish territories, the Russian Empire embarked on the invasion of Austria-Hungary itself. On February 16th, 1909, in a move that many thought was long overdue, Russian General Nikolai Yudenich invaded the Austro-Hungarian ruled Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria with over 245,000 men. The Austro-Hungarians put a valiant defense but by the end of April had been nearly completely driven back into Hungary. As Yudenich’s army recovered from the Galicia Campaign, a Russian army of 195,000 under General Aleksei Brusilov and a smaller Romanian force invaded Transylvania in early May. On June 4, 1909 Klausenburg, the unofficial capital of Hungarian Transylvania, fell to the Russo-Romanian army after a fierce battle that reduced the city to rubble. By the end of the month the rest of Transylvania would fall to the Alliance, with King Carlo I annexing the territory for the Kingdom of Romania. Altogether, the enormous losses suffered on the Eastern Front at the hands of the Russians during the winter and spring of 1909 nearly brought Austria-Hungary to her knees. As Russia collected its forces for a push into Hungary, Emperor Maximilian could only hope that the arrival of French reinforcements could save his empire from destruction.
General Alexi Brusilov
The Relief of Belgrade
As Russian forces pushed into Austro-Hungarian Galicia and Transylvania, a third force arrived in the beleaguered Kingdom of Serbia. The Serbian capital of Belgrade had been under siege by the Ottomans since December of 1908. On May 16, 1909 the siege was finally lifted as Russian General Nikolai Ruzsky and his 116,000 man army evicted the Turks from their positions surrounding the city. The relief of Belgrade insured that Serbia would stay in the Alliance and continue the war.
Russian reinforcements to Prussia
It is also important to note that even as Russia was conducting offensives into Austria-Hungary and the Balkans, the Russian General Staff was also shipping tons of supplies and tens of thousands of troops to the Prussian Front in order to halt the latest French offensive into the Ruhr.
Navies of the Great War
Before March, 1909 the Great War had remained primarily a European land based conflict. But now with the United Kingdom and United States having joined the Alliance the war would reach to the farthest oceans of the world. Listed below is a brief summary of the naval strength of the chief belligerent powers.
The Royal Navy
When the United Kingdom entered the war in March of 1909 it possessed the most powerful navy in the world. At the forefront of the fleet were 23 Leviathan class battleships named in honor of the HMS Leviathan which in 1901 revolutionized warship design with its lethal main battery of 12inch guns. In addition to the leviathans the Royal Navy also possessed 33 pre-leviathan design battleships, 9 battle cruisers, 21 town cruisers, 12 scout cruisers, 152 cruisers (pre 1901), 211 destroyers, and 26 submarines. It should also be noted that the figures listed above do not include the navies from the British Dominions.
Royal Naval Ensign
The U.S. Navy
The American Navy had grown rapidly since the Custer reforms of the 1890’s. By 1909 the U.S. Navy could muster a total of 15 leviathan class battleships, 24 pre-leviathan battleships, 13 armored cruisers, 26 protected cruisers, 4 light/scout cruisers, 65 destroyers, and 19 submarines.
49 Star U.S. Naval Jack
The Prussian Navy
Officially known as the Northern German Federal Navy(Norddeutsche Bundesmarine) the Prussian Navy had long been neglected in favor of the Prussian Army. By the time that the United States and Britain entered the war, Prussia had remaining only 2 leviathan class battleships, 5 pre-leviathan battleships, 6 battle cruisers, and 34 destroyers. Taking note of the French navy’s use of submarines however, Prussia did manage to field a respectable 42 submarines for use in the North Sea.
Prussian Marine Jack
The Russian Navy
After suffering serious losses in the war against Japan, by 1909 the Russian Empire possessed only 2 leviathan battleships, 3 pre-leviathan battleships, 10 cruisers, 19 destroyers, 8 submarines, and 47 torpedo boats.
Imperial Russian Naval Jack
The Imperial French Navy
Although clearly behind the Royal Navy, the Imperial French Navy was still a formidable fighting force. It consisted of 14 leviathan battleships, 22 pre-leviathan battleships, 30 coast defense ships, 25 armored cruisers, 120 destroyers, and 79 submarines.
Imperial French Naval Ensign
The Austro-Hungarian Navy
In 1909 the Austro-Hungarian navy had a total of 48 vessels consisting of 3 leviathan battleships, 7 pre-leviathan battleships, 4 coast defense ships, 3 armored cruisers. 5 light/scout cruisers, 23 destroyers, and 3 submarines. Since the capitulation of Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Navy has helped blockade Greece and assisted the Ottomans in actions against the Russian’s Black Sea Fleet.
Austro-Hungarian Naval Ensign
The Ottoman Navy
The Ottoman navy was clearly the weakest of the Entente powers. By 1909, the Turkish navy consisted only of 3 pre-leviathan battleships, 2 coastal defense ship, 3 protected cruisers, 9 destroyers, and no submarines. For much of the war the Ottoman Navy has been defending the Dardanelles, while from time to time making raids into the Aegean and Black seas.
Ottoman Naval Ensign
Imperial Japanese Navy
Despite loses at the hands of the Russians, by 1909 the Imperial Japanese navy still managed to possess 2 leviathan class battleships, 6 pre-leviathan class battleships, 4 coast defense ships, 7 armored cruisers, 13 protected cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 43 destroyers, and 11 submarines.
Imperial Japanese Naval Ensign
Clash of the Titans
The War at Sea: March-July 1909
Painting of the Battle of Dogger Bank
March 14-17, 1909
The Battle of Dogger Bank
Since the start of the war the Imperial French Navy had maintained an effective blockade in the North Sea, strictly limiting Prussia and Russia’s access to the world’s oceans. However, with Great Britain joining the war in March of 1909 breaking the French blockade became a top priority in order to ship much need troops and supplies to the beleaguered Prussians. As such on March 14, 1909 the British Home and Channel Fleets meet the French Atlantic and Channel Fleets at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. The Battle of Dogger Bank would wage back and forth for three days as the British and French poured more and more ships into the fray. Despite British numerical superiority in ships, French submarines inflicted serious damage on the Royal Navy. Unusually poor weather further complicated the matter as the battle descended into a series of ferocious small scale engagements amidst the thick fog and smoke. On March 17 with both sides running low on ammunition, the battle swung decisively in favor of the Alliance as the weather cleared allowing the British to bring their superior numbers to bear. By the end of the day the French under Fleet Admiral Maurice Aucoin began to withdraw. The French retreat however was further hampered by the arrival of Prussian forces which picked off a number of damaged French vessels. The historic allusions to Waterloo with the Prussians arriving at the end of the battle did not fail to register with the British commander, Fleet Admiral Sir John Fisher, who is reported to have remarked “leave it to the bloody Germans to take their time getting to a fight.”
Fleet Admiral Sir John Fisher
The French defeat at the Battle of Dogger Bank allowed the Alliance to start sending desperately needed men and materiel to the Prussian Front, with the first British units landing by the end of March. Victory however came at a high cost for the Royal Navy who lost 6 battleships, 19 cruisers, 37 destroyers, and a number of smaller vessels. French loses were roughly the same, but due to the Imperial French Navy’s smaller size were much more hardly felt.
Battle of the North Atlantic
A victim of French Submarine Warfare
After their costly defeat at Dogger Bank, the French set about a policy of trying to starve Britain into submission. Known as the Battle of the North Atlantic, French submarines began sinking any vessel bound for British ports. This proved to be very successful in the spring of 1909, with hundred of merchant ships being sunk. In return the Alliance navies began their strategy of blockading France’s Atlantic coastline. The effects of this blockade were soon felt on the French economy as nearly all access to resources and goods from Latin America were cut off.
Although the Alliance dominated much of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean remained in essence a French lake. The United Kingdom maintained only three outposts in the Entente dominated sea at Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus. Deemed “a thorn in the Empire’s side” by Napoleon IV, the French attempted a landing at Malta on July 1, 1909. The attempt failed due in equal part to the spirited fighting of the defenders and numerous French blunders in the amphibious assault. Despite the successful defense of Malta however, these three heavily fortified redoubts could in reality do little but try and hold on till the arrival of reinforcements.
British Soldiers cheering after the succesful defense of Malta
(note the new steel helmets)
Opération Abeille D'or
French Troops on their way to the front during Operation Golden Bee
With the entry of the United States and Great Britain into the War, Emperor of the French Napoleon IV knew that in order to achieve victory the Kingdom of Prussia must be knocked out of the war before large numbers of American and British reinforcements arrived. In order to accomplish this, the French General Staff devised what would be one of the largest offensives of the war, Opération Abeille D'or (Operation Golden Bee), to deliver the coup de grace to their beleaguered German adversary. Golden Bee would capitalize off of the resent success of the Hess-Nassau Offensive by continuing to drive north along the east bank of the Rhine and into Prussia’s Westphalia Province. The ultimate goal of the offensive being to reach Prussia’s industrial heartland, the Ruhr valley. With the Ruhr severed from the rest of the kingdom, Napoleon believed that the Prussians would be forced to sue for peace. With Prussia out of the war a peace could be negotiated with the other Alliance powers that allowed France to keep her wartime gains.
Start of the Offensive
Starting on March 15, 1909 the French, along with large contingents of their South German vassals, launched Operation Golden Bee. Entente efforts initially meet with great success as the Imperials slogged their way north despite heavy casualties. Over the next month and a half, Prussia lost Marburg and their remaining toeholds in Bonn and Cologne. On May 2, 1909 the commander of the Entente forces for Golden Bee, Marshal Petain, made a request to the Emperor that the offensive be halted in order to regroup and resupply. Napoleon IV denied Petain’s request and ordered that the operation continue until “the Ruhr valley is taken and every last Teuton is driven from her banks.”
The Battles of Dusseldorf, Kassel, and Sundern
French Soldiers at the Battle of Dusseldorf
April 13, 1909
On April 11, 1909 in what would become known as the Battle of Dusseldorf, French forces launched a major attack on their western limit of advance. The battle would rage for four days and see the French make several attempts to take the city. Although on the second day of the battle it looked as if the city would fall to the French, the arrival of elements of the British Expeditionary Force turned the tide in the Allies favor. Dusseldorf would prove to be the high watermark for the Entente offensive into Prussia. Over the next few weeks the French would suffer a series of defeats include one at the hands of a Russo-Prussian force south of Kassel. Another important turning point during Operation Golden Bee occurred at the Battle of Sundern where American forces saw combat for the first time in Europe. On June 2, 1909 in the thickly forested terrain outside of the city of Sundern, a composite Marine-Army element known as the American Expeditionary Corp inflicted a devastating defeat on the French-Bavarian force opposing it. At the battle the Americans took over 10,000 prisoners, most of them Bavarians. Due to the tenacity of the Americans’ performance during the battle, one French commander labeled them Démons de Forêt (Forest Devils) a name that would stick with American troops throughout the war.
Soldiers of the American Expiditionary Corp at the Battle of Sundern
Start of the German Revolt
Following the failure of Operation Golden Bee to end the war, and the heavy casualties suffered by south German troops, anti-French unrest exploded in the south German states of Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden. Desertion skyrocketed as Prussian propaganda stirred up Pan-German sentiment while trying to alienate southern Germans from the co-religionist French and Austrian allies. Many historians mark July, 5, 1909 as the official start of the German Revolt, when guerrillas ambushed an Entente convoy outside of the Bavarian city of Bamberg resulting in over 200 French casualties. Over the next few months, tens of thousands of Germans would flee to the hills and forests to start fighting against their French and Austro-Hungarian oppressors. This forced the French to divert valuable men and resources, items they could not spare in light of the deteriorating military situation.
The "German Flag" used by many Pan-German guerrilas in South Germany
The Dark Continent
March – November 1909
British Machine Gun during the invasion of Madagascar
At the start of the war, France controlled roughly half of the continent of Africa. As the war dragged on, the French largely stripped their colonial possessions of their garrisons and conscripted large numbers of natives to fight in Europe. With the unexpected entry of the United States and Great Britain into the war in March of 1909 the French suddenly found that their African territories posed easy targets for the British, who with their naval superiority after the Battle of Dogger Bank could move and land troops with relative ease around the African coast.
The island of Madagascar had been a French colony since the 1870’s. It represented an important Entente naval base in the British dominated Indian Ocean. On May 24, 1909 a British/South African force landed on the west coast of the island near the city of Tomashina. The skeleton garrison the French had left to defend the island did not contest the landing but instead withdrew into the mountainous interior to wage a guerrilla war against the invaders. By July 13, 1909 the islands colonial capital Tananarive fell to the British. Over the next few months the British would use their superior naval strength to gain control of much of the coast. The French however, managed to maintain control of large sections of the islands interior due to the harsh terrain and thick vegetation.
French Somalia was invaded by the British troops from neighboring British Somaliland and Kenya during late April, 1909. By June 3, 1909 the colony’s capital Mogadishu had fallen, and the French only managed to control a small strip of territory near the Ethiopian border.
Although the British did not possess the troops necessary to invade all of France’s vast West African empire, several efforts were made in the spring and summer of 1909 to seize what the British deemed to be strategically important French territory. At the start of the war the French colony of Togoland separated the British possessions of Ghana and Nigeria. When the British invaded in early May of 1909, the French retreated north allowing the British to unite their West African colonies. Over the next few months the British would seize several other points on the West African cost. The only significant French victory during the early months of the African campaign occurred at the heavily fortified port city of Dakar in September, 1909 where the French managed to inflict heavy losses on a British attempt to take the city. After the defeat the British settled in on for a long blockade and siege of Dakar that would ultimately result in thousands of Alliance casualties, mostly from disease, before the port finally fell in February, 1909.
French African Troops at the successful defense of Dakar
The Pacific Theater
American troops entering Manila after the battle
For most of the Great War the Pacific theater was dominated by the Russo-Japanese conflict which had originally begun in October of 1906. With the outbreak of the Great War in September, 1907, France joined Japan as a cobelligerent against the Russians. When America and Great Britain entered the war in March of 1909, the balance of power in the Pacific swung dramatically to the Alliance. It is important to note that the British and Americans were at war only against the European members of the Entente and not Imperial Japan. The following is a brief account of the sweeping gains made in the Pacific by the Alliance in the spring, summer, and fall of 1909.
The Fall of New Guinea
The northern half of the island of New Guinea unceremoniously fell to a British/Australian force in late April of 1909 after the meager French garrison gave only token resistance. The island of New Britain and the rest of the Bonaparte Archipelago would fall in June of 1909, but only after the French put up a stiff resistance at Rabaul resulting in thousands of Australian and New Zealander casualties.
Australian forces at the Battle of Rabual
The Invasion of Indochina
In the early days of June, 1909 French Indochina was invaded by a British led Indian force of some 55,000 men from Burma. It would take until December 3 before the region of Tonkin fell after the siege of Hanoi. During the preceding months the British and their Australian and New Zealander subjects made landings near Saigon and at the old Imperial Vietnamese capital of Hue. The French and the small number of natives who stayed loyal to the Emperor harried the invaders at several points and retained control of much of the interior into 1910.
The United States seizes French Polynesia, Micronesia, and the Philippines
Once France’s American territories had been conquered the United States turned her attention to the Pacific. From bases in Hawaii and Samoa, the United States Navy launched several expeditions to secure France’s relatively undefended South Pacific possessions. On July 15, Tahiti fell after a naval bombardment and a landing by U.S. Marines. Enroot to the Philippines, Navy/Army taskforces made landings of Guam and other spots in the south and central pacific. By the time American troops landed in the Philippines in November, America had gained effective control of the Polynesian, Caroline, Marshal, Mariana, and Pelew Islands. Although French submarines and torpedo boats did manage to inflict several loses on the U.S. Navy, the Imperial French Navy was spread to thin and their island garrisons were to weak to pose a serious threat. The toughest nut to crack would prove to be the Philippines. Ever since Spain had sold the Philippine Islands to France in 1879, the archipelago’s capital Manila had served as an important outpost in France’s Pacific Empire. On November 7, 1909 a large American force landed on the Philippine island of Luzon after the small French naval force was defeated at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Battle of Manila on November 18 was ferocious as American troops were forced to storm the city after a 6 hour long bombardment. By the end of the month most of the French garrison had surrendered although small French elements would remain active on other islands for months.
Japan exits the War
After over three years of brutal warfare and with the likelihood of an imminent Russian breakthrough on the Yalu River, the Empire of Japan sought British/American mediation in ending its conflict with Russia. Russia was eager to end its war in the east as well as it had conquered nearly all of Manchuria and wished to concentrate its forces against its enemies in Europe. Neither side however would abide with the other in control of the Korean Peninsula. Therefore according to the Treaty of Honolulu, singed between Russia, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States on December 8, 1909 Japan would relinquish control over the Korean Peninsula allowing for an Anglo-American condominium to be set up for 10 years until an independent Korean state could be restored. Russia would receive a free hand in Manchuria and Japan would keep all of its Pacific possessions, such as Formosa. Although many in Japan were furious at the treaty’s terms the island nation was bankrupt and had little choice but to except. The signing of the treaty signaled the end of major combat operations in theater and the destruction of Entente power in the Pacific.
Delegates at the Signing of the Treaty of Honolulu
The Coalition of Free Nations
The London Conference
In late August of 1909, representatives from the Alliance nations meet in London to discuss war aims and a more formal Alliance structure. The major powers included the United States represented by Secretary of State William McKinley, Great Britain by Prime MinisterCampbell-Bannerman, Prussia by Foreign Minister Heinrich von Tschirschky, and Russia by Foreign Minister Alexander Izvolsky. One of the first points agreed upon was that no nation would make a separate peace with any member of the Entente. The second major point agreed upon was that all territorial gains and punitive measures made after the war would be rdiscussed and ratified in a convention held after the war (in much the same way of the Congress of Vienne after the First Napoleonic Wars). Curiously one of the hardest things agreed upon was the name that this alliance should take. Some favored retaining the moniker of “Alliance” as it dated back to the original Prussian-Russian-Italian Alliance from the start of the war. Other’s favored the name “Coalition”, which would ultimately win out, in reference to the historical opposition towards the first French Empire. Still other more exotic names such as “The League” or “The United Nations” were also floated. Regardless, after much debate and compromise on October 2, 1909 a charter was signed under the name of the Coalition of Free Nations by the representatives of Prussia, Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece. Charges that not all of the nations should be considered “free” have been levied over the years but at the time the description of the Coalition as an alliance amongst “Free Nations” was an important selling point for the British and American publics.
Mexico and Central America join the Coalition
With the Americas cleared of Entente forces and the Coalition charter singed in London, the United States’ Central American allies flocked to the Coalition banner. The first to join was the Republic of Nicaragua on October 21, 1909. Within weeks the rest of Central America and Haiti had joined the war. Mexico was the last to join, deciding to through its lot in with the Coalition in early December. Although it is fair to say that many of these nations were simple jumping on the Coalition bandwagon with little to offer of gain from participation, Mexico did field an infantry division that distinguished itself on the German front. Mexico’s entry into the war also cemented its position as a dedicated American ally and marked its entry onto the world stage as a respectable middle power.
Collapse of the Brazilian Monarchy
Having rulede Brazil for 85 years the House of Braganza finally fell from power on August 4, 1909 when a military backed Republican coup overthrew Empress Isablea. Although it is true that Brazil had prospered under the monarchy, the Empire's pro-French stnace, even after the publication of the Bonaparte-Hanotauz letters had hurt Brazil over the past few years. The Coalition blockade of France had deprived the Empire of Brazil of one of its most important markets. Furthermore, the outbreak of the Great War had dramatically curtailed French aid and investment to Brazil which the Imperial Family had become dependent on. On August 4, the Empress and the rest of the royal family were made to board the ship Ceres to go to Portugal in exile. Within days the Brazilian General Assembly officially declared the nation a republic under the new name of the Federated States of Brazil. The unexpected fall of the Brazilian monarchy sent shock waves thought South America where the pro-French governments of Colombia and Venezuela were struggling to hold onto power, neither of which would survive the year. The collapse of the pro-French governments in South America marked an important turning point in the region where Lain America would democratize and increasingly come under the leadership of the United States.
The Empire of Brazil
a map of the Great War Belligerents as of December, 1909.
The Entente Impériale is in blue. The Coalition of Free Nations is in red. Entente gains are in light blue. Coaltion gains are in light red.
Inside the Second Empire
France: The Winter of 1910
Imperial Standard of Napoleon IV
The Military Situation
With Britain and America joining the war against the Entente in March of 1909, the conditions in France by the end of 1909 were deteriorating rapidly. Tens of thousands of troops had to be redirected from the front to guard the French coast. The Coalition was making impressive gains in both Germany and Hungary. Austria-Hungary was on the brink of collapse, and rumors abounded that the Ottoman Empire was looking for a way out of the war. On top of that, full blown guerrilla wars had erupted in the South German states and the occupied portions of Italy which were putting an unbearable strain on the dwindling manpower of the Entente nations.
By the winter of 1910 the Coalition blockade of Europe had nearly completely cut of France and her allies from the markets and resources of the Americas, Asia, and Sub Saharan Africa. Indeed, the only non-European trade that the French had left was with their North African colonies, and even that trade was coming under increasing attack from Coalition submarines and commerce raiders from bases in Malta, Gibraltar, and Cyprus. In France rationing of food and certain materials was increasing. Shortages of fuel, steel, rubber, and ammunition was beginning to seriously undermine the Imperial war effort.
One of the many breadlines in eastern France
The Disloyal Opposition
As France’s wartime prospects dimmed, a plethora of anti-Bonapartist groups grew in popularity. This included monarchist factions both Orleanist and Legitimist, and a large but fragmented left wing with competing anarchist, socialist, and communist movements. However, the largest and increasingly the most credible opposition group were the Republicans who sought nothing less than the overthrow of the Empire and the establishment of a “Third Republic.” All of these groups encouraged Frenchman to dissert from the Imperial Army and began to stockpile weapons and train men in remote locations. The groups also attempted to organize likeminded military officers with varying degrees of success.
Le Nouvel Empire
As the number of enemies, both internal and external, grew Napoleon IV became increasingly worried about the precarious position his throne occupied. On November 15, 1909 an attempt was made on the Emperor’s life by an anarchist named Jacques Simardduring one of Napoleon’s palace speeches. Although Napoleon IV escaped unscathed he used the assassination attempt as an excuse to launch a massive crackdown on dissidents and to consolidate his power. In what he called Le Nouvel Empire (The New Empire) Napoleon IV abolished the legislature and suspended the constitution. Although his power had been considerable before the New Empire phase, Napoleon now ruled completely by decree and was free to let his gendarmerie to deal with any perceived threat to the Empire without restraint. Although this move was meant to strengthen the Emperor position, in the long run it created far more enemies than it silenced.
French Painting of Napoleon IV
The Hungarian Offensive
Battle of Budapest
July 1909- February 1910
The City of Budapest before the Battle
In the West as American and British forces poured into Prussia and began to push the French back towards the Rhine, the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires were locked in a death match in the East. The Hapsburg’s had ruled their central European empire in some form or another since the reign of Rudolf I, over 600 years ago. Now, with the Coalition advancing and many of their disenfranchised subjects rising against them, the Hapsburgs could only fight on against what must have seemed like a Russian wave crashing over them.
The Russians resumed their push into Hungary in August of 1909. Three massive Russian armies totaling over 1 million men and supplemented by their Romanian, Serbian, and Bulgarian allies took part in the offensive. The Austro-Hungarians were forced to redirected hundreds of thousands of troops from their fronts in Bavaria and northern Italy to try and cope with the onslaught. By early January, 1910 the Russians had made their way to the outskirts of Budapest. The Battle of Budapest would prove to be the climax of the Hungarian offensive and one of the largest and deadliest battles of the Great War. As the capital and largest city of the constituent Kingdom of Hungary, Budapest had enormous importance to the Austro-Hungarians. Likewise, the Russians believed that after the capture of Budapest, the other non-Austrian subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire would read the writing on the wall and desert their German speaking overlords. The battle would last for roughly two months as the Russians were able to eventually encircle the city despite growing troubles with the long and precarious supply lines. Even after the city was surrounded, the half on the western bank of the Danube River (the historical city of Buda) would not officially surrendered to Russian General Alexi Brusilov until February 27, 1910. With Budapest and most of Hungary now in Coalition hands, Austro-Hungarian Emperor Maximilian began to look for a way for his country to exit the war while still preserving the dual monarchy.
With the Russians making headway into Kurdistan, the Arab provinces in revolt, and ever smaller amounts of aid coming from France, the Ottoman Empire in the Autumn of 1909 began a fighting withdraw from much of its European holdings as the Turks decreasing resources were badly needed elsewhere. For the Bulgarians, Serbs, and Greeks who had been on the ropes fighting the Sublime Porte for years, the Turkish withdrawal was a godsend. By 1910 the Turks had largely stopped falling back and were digging in to protect their remaining European territory as illustrated by the Battle of Plovdiv in the early days of February, 1910 when a Russo-Bulgarian army was badly mauled after attempting to cross the Maritsa River.
Turkish troops defending the Maritsa River
the Middle East
June 1909-May 1910
Cavalry during the Battle of Jeddah
The Arab Revolt
Since the start of the Great War, the Ottoman Empire’s relations with the Arab tribes that inhabited the interior of the Arabian Peninsula had deteriorated dramatically. Starting in 1908, Hashemite forces in the Hejaz under Sayyid Hussein bin Ali joined the Coalition and proceeded to try and drive the Turks from Arab lands. Although at first the Arab rebels meet with little success due to lack of munitions and supplies, aid from Prussia, and later Britain and the United States eventually allowed the Arabs to start gaining ground. In June of 1909 the important Arabian port of Jeddah was captured. Over the next few months the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina would also fall to rebel hands. Throughout the campaign the Arabs were assisted by a number of European officers, the two most famous being Prussian Captain Theophil Schoenfeld and British Major Kian Hawkins who would make a name for themselves by adopting Arab costumes and customs in order to gain their soldiers trust. By the Spring of 1910, Arab forces had driven the Turks completely out of the Arabian Peninsula and were preparing to advance into Ottoman controlled Palestine.
The Invasion of Egypt
Coalition Troops during the Egyptian Campaign
As French possessions in the rest of Africa were continuing to fall to the Coalition, the British decided to embark on Operation Marlborough, the invasion of the French colony of Egypt. Having been part of the French Empire since the 1880’s, Egypt’s most important feature was the Suez Canal which if captured would allow the Coalition, who already controlled Gibraltar, greater access to the Mediterranean Sea. On January 13, 1910 a composite force under the command of British General Robert Baden-Powell but composed mainly of Australian and New Zealand troops landed near the port of Suez on the Red Sea. Although the landing came under intense shellfire, Coalition forces were able to seize the city by the end of the day. Over the next two months over 150,000 Coalition troops would land and fight their way north up the canal to Port Said. Although the French scuttled ships and tried to damage the canal to make in inoperable for Coalition use, they were only moderately successful. On March 30th, 1910 Coalition forces captured Cairo after a brief but intense siege. With Egypt and its canal no longer under Entente control, the Coalition could now dramatically expand its naval presence in the Mediterranean and deliver much needed supplies to its southern European allies.
Italy reenters the War
Italy had undergone a transformation since the signing of the Treaty of Milan in February of 1908 which had taken the Mediterranean kingdom out of the war. Many Italians felt deeply betrayed by the monarchy for signing the treaty and longed to regain their lost northern provinces. On May 16, 1908 Queen Lucia was overthrown by a popularly backed military coup, and was force to flee to Spain. Within days the Italian parliament abolished the monarchy and the Republic of Italy was proclaimed. As the war waged on in Europe, Italy busied itself by rearming and retraining its battered army, a task which proved difficult since the most industrialized regions of the country were under enemy occupation. Throughout this period, known in Italy as La Tregua “The Truce”, the Italian military was put under the command of Generalissimo Brancaleone Lucchesi. Lucchesi had distinguished himself earlier in the war against the French and Austro-Hungarians and had successfully led his army corps south to safety following the armistice. Lucchesi would use his corps as the nucleus to build the new Italian Army around. An ardent republican, a notable rarity in the old monarchist army, the popular Lucchesi was an enormous asset in recruiting troops and bolstering the moral of the Italian people. Also during La Tregua Lucchesi did all he could to aid the Italian guerrillas in the mountainous regions of occupied northern Italy. With aid from southern Italy these guerrillas were exacting an increasingly severe toll on the French and Austro-Hungarian occupiers.
By the spring of 1910, the Italian army had largely regained its former strength and was determined to liberate northern Italy. News of the capture of Egypt and the steady stream of Entente reversals in Germany and Hungary finally convinced the Italian government and Lucchesi that the time was right to rejoin the Coalition. On May 5, 1910 roughly two years after the signing of the Treaty of Milan, the Italian government declared war on the Entente powers with Generalissimo Lucchesi making his famous statement “May Emperors tremble at sounds of freemen no longer slaves breaking their chains!”
Flag of the Republic of Italy
The War in Germany
June 1909-February 1910
Prussian troops fighting around Wetzlar, Prussia
The summer and autumn of 1909 saw the Coalition rack up a series of victories on the German Front. The failure of Operation Golden Bee to win the war for the Entente, left the French in a very precarious position and their armies heavily attrited. By late July, American, British, and Commonwealth troops had arrived in Prussia in enough numbers to start pushing the Entente back on points all along the front line.
“To the Rhine!”
Canadian troops in action around Bonn
Starting in July, the Coalition began launching a series of offensive aimed at pushing the French back towards the western bank of the Rhine. On August 9, 1909 the city of Bonn was liberated after a vicious street battle spearheaded by Canadian soldiers. The ballad “the Bloody Battle of Bonn” would come to be one of the most popular tunes of the war and be used as a rallying cry for Canadian nationalism for decades to come. From October 3-15 in what became known as the Second Battle of Frankfurt, a combined Anglo-Prussian Army of 204,000 men eventually succeeded in driving the French from the city. With the recapture of Frankfurt, all Prussian territory west of the Rhine had been reclaimed. November and December would see the Coalition make several successful thrusts into Baden and Württemberg were the locals were coming over in the thousands to the “German” cause.
The Fall of Bavaria
American soldiers along the Danube River in Bavaria
With the Russians advancing in the east, The Austro-Hungarians were forced to drastically weaken their armies in Bavaria and Bohemia. This provided an opportunity for the Coalition to launch one of the most daring offensives of the war. Known as Operation Vorschlaghammer or Sledgehammer in English, this daring Prussian-American offensive would see most of Bavaria and parts of Bohemia fall in less than two and half months. Launched in the dead of winter, Operation Sledgehammer took the ragtag Entente defenders completely by surprise. Prussian cavalry, supported by American armored car and airship units, spearheaded the attach allowing for a rapid advance. Although a few pockets of French troops put up determined resistance, the royalist Bavarian and Austro-Hungarian forces surrendered in droves. Nuremburg fell on New Year’s Day 1910, with the rest of Bavaria being captured in the coming weeks. The liberation of Bavaria held special significance to the Coalition as it was a crisis over succession to the Bavarian throne which had triggered the Great War in the first place. By the end of February 1910, a provisional republican government under Prussian supervision had been installed in Bavaria and the Coalition was eagerly looking across the border into Austria.
Here is a map of the Great War Belligerents as of March 1, 1910.
The Entente Impériale is in blue. The Coalition of Free Nations is in red. Entente gains are in light blue. Coaltion gains are in light red.
The Fall of the House of Hapsburg
March - June, 1910
Wounded Prussian and American troops during the Austrian Campaign
No Way Out
By March of 1910, with roughly half of their territory now under the control of the Coalition, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was desperately looking for a way to exit the war. The empire was coming undone at the seams. Transylvania, Galicia, and most of Hungry, were now in the hands of the Russians or their allies. In the south, Slavic rebellions were increasing in intensity as Vienna’s grip on its provinces continued to slip. Using covert channels to disguise his intentions from the French, the 78 year old Emperor Maximilian sent emissaries to the Coalition powers to discuss an Armistice. In exchange for peace, Maximilian would confirm the annexation of Transylvania to Romania, the German speaking parts of Bohemia to Prussia, Galicia to Russia, and parts of northeastern Italy to the Republic of Italy. The remaining Austro-Hungarian territories would stay in the empire under the rule of the Hapsburgs. The deal found considerable support amongst the British, American, and Italians. The Prussians and Russians however disliked the offer. Many in the Prussian government were now determined to build a PanGerman state after the war which would need to include Austria. Russia disliked the offer of an armistice for two reasons. The first being that they would have to withdraw from recently conquered Hungry, and the second that a surviving Austria-Hungry could ally itself with Prussia or Britain against the Russians after the war. As such the proposed armistice fell through and the war continued, and the last chance for the survival of Austria-Hungry passed by.
Swan Song of an Empire
Austro-Hungarian artillery in action during the Waag River Offensive
With a diplomatic exit from the war having been rejected, the Austro-Hungarians decided that the only way to negotiate for peace was from a position of strength. Seeing the Russians as the biggest threat to the Empire’s existence, Emperor Maximillian decided to launch an offensive a hundred miles east of Presburg in a last ditch effort to compel the Russians to the negotiating table. Known as the Waag River offensive, an Austro-Hungarian force inflicted over 67,000 casualties in a surprise victory over the overextended Russians in the early days of April, 1910. In the following weeks, the Austro-Hungarians on the eastern front rallied somewhat and were able to shore up the frontline, beating back Russian and Romanian attacks at Székesfehérvár and Mohacs respectively. In order to accomplish these victories however, the Austro-Hungarians were forced to weaken their defenses along the Bavarian border. A gamble which would cost them dearly.
The Invasion of Austria
With the Russian advance stalled in the east, the western members of the Coalition decided to mount an offensive to knock Austria-Hungry out of the war once and for all. Following on the heels of their rapid dash through Bavaria, the Prussian 3rd Army under General Karl von Bülow
and the American V Corps under Lt. General Arthur MacArthur Jr. prepared to renew their advance. Starting on May 2, 1910, the Coalition crossed over the Inn River into Austria. Although the vast majority of the Austro-Hungarian army was deployed in the east fighting the Russians, they still managed to bloody the Prussians and Americans at places like the Battle of Linz before being surrounded and overwhelmed. The final action of the Austrian Campaign, the Battle of Vienna, began on June 26, 1910 as the Prussian-American force began to encircle the city. Over the next six days the beleaguered garrison, short on ammunition and food, was forced to fall back until it surrender on July 2, 1909. Emperor Maximilian abdicated the next morning, reportedly stating to his wife Empress Charlotte that “perhaps we should have gone to Mexico after all” a reference to the 1863 French offer to be made Emperor of Mexico. With the Emperor’s abdication and the refusal of his son the Archduke Joseph to carry on the struggle the Austro-Hungarian Empire ceased to exists. On the July 4 victory parade through the streets of Vienna the Pan-German tricolor was raised over Hofburg palace. Legend has it that the American commander, Lt. General MacArthur, led an assembly of Coalition officers in a rousing rendition of the Battle Cry of Freedom in both German and English well into the night.
The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy
 That is the current city of Bratislava
Peace in the Middle East
Photograph from the aftermath of the Siege of Bagdad
As the Russians slogged their way into eastern Anatolia, the area’s Kurdish population rose in rebellion against their Turkish overlords. With Russian aid and support the Kurds were able to sweeping the Ottomans from the regions mountains terrain. While Coalition advances along the Black Sea proved to be slow and costly, and in Thrace nonexistent, most of Kurdistan was freed from Ottoman rule by the end of July, 1910.
Turkish Artillery at the Battle of Jerusalem
Following the successful invasion of Egypt, Coalition forces embarked on an invasion of Ottoman controlled Palestine. Under British General Ian Hamilton, the Coalition force would run into a series of problems due to the harsh environment and lack of supplies. Although technically a Coalition victory the Battle of Gaza cost Hamilton over 10,000 casualties compared to the 5,400 suffered by his Turkish counterpart. The climax of the campaign came on June 11, 1910 during the Battle of Jerusalem when the Ottomans successfully repulsed a Coalition attempt to take the city. By the end of July, Coalition forces had fallen back as far as Beersheba in order to regroup and resupply.
While the Coalition suffered embarrassing reversals in Palestine, their offensive into Mesopotamia was far more successful. Pushing north from Kuwait in the early months of 1910, a Coalition force composed of mostly British and Commonwealth troops, travelled along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers towards the city of Bagdad. Aided by large numbers of Arab rebels, the Coalition army under the command of Major General Robert McDougal fought and routed a disorganized Turkish force at the Battle of Kut. Coalition forces then went on to besiege Bagdad. After several weeks of fierce fighting, the city surrendered on June 28, 1910.
The Ottoman Empire exits the War
Despite some success in defending Palestine, the Kurdish Rebellion along with the fall of Bagdad proved to many in the Sultan’s service that continuing the war was hopeless. News of the collapse of Austria-Hungry in early July seemed only to confirm that assumption as the Russian Empire would now be able to turn its full attention south. On July 22, 1910 the ailing Sultan Abdul Hamid II was deposed by a palace coup. He was replaced by one of his western educated nephews who was installed as Sultan Abdulmecid II. Abdulmecid II and his reform minded band of supporters wasted no time in sending dignitaries to the Coaltion powers to request an armistice. Although there were several in the Russian government who wished to continue the war against the Turks, growing war weariness and pressure from Great Britain and the United States eventually made them accept. On August 12, 1910 an armistice between the Sublime Ottoman State and the Coalition of Free Nations was signed onboard the HMS Guardian. The armistice had three major stipulations, the immediate end of all hostilities, the halt of all troop movements, and for a formal peace treaty convention between the former belligerents to be signed in the following months. The Ottomans role in the Great War was over.
Here is a map of the Great War Belligerents as of August 1, 1910.
The Entente Impériale is in blue. The Coalition of Free Nations is in red. Entente gains are in light blue. Coaltion gains are in light red.
The War against France
March- September, 1910
French corpses in the Rhineland Pocket
The Rhineland Pocket
With the collapse of the south German states and the eviction of Entente forces east of the Rhine River by March of 1910 the Coalition was finally prepared to cross the Rhine and liberate Prussian territory that had been under French occupation since the summer of 1908. The first stage of the mammoth operation was an attack by the British Expeditionary Force under Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener and the Russian 7th Army under General Venyamin Belyaev across the Rhine around Mainz on April 3, 1910 in order to draw French troops south of the Mosel. Although effective in distracting the French, the British and Russians paid dearly for every yard gained. With the Entente’s attention focused towards the south, the Prussian 3rd and 4th Armies under Field Marshal Schlieffen and the American Expeditionary Force[i] under Lt. General James F. Bell broke through the French lines north of Koblenz on May 5, 1910 and made a rapid advance west towards the Belgian border. By the end of the month the French 6th Army was effectively trapped with the Prussians on the eastern bank of the Rhine, Americans on their southern flank, and the neutral but vigilant Belgian and Dutch armies to their west and north. Cut off and low on supplies and ammunition the French 6th Army would surrendering on July 7th, 1910 after the army’s commander, Marshal Philippe Petain, killed himself upon receiving news of the collapse of Austria-Hungary. All in all, over 164,000 men would be captured in what became known as the Rhineland Pocket.
The Brittany Debacle
British Troops on the Breton Pennisula
After the successful landings in Egypt in January of 1910, the British were adamant on recreating a similar amphibious operation in western France. The rationale behind such a bold plan was that a landing on France’s Atlantic coast would force the French to divert troops away from the front lines in Germany and Italy. Furthermore, the British believed that if they could capture a sizable port, such as Brest, then it would significantly ease their logistical troubles when the war moved into northern France. On June 8, 1910 a large British/Canadian force of over 90,000 men under the command of Field Marshal Archibald Blackwell began to land on the north side of the Breton Peninsula at Kerlouan. Although the landing met with initial success, French reinforcements prevented Blackwell from taking Brest. Over the next few months, Brest would be reduced to rubble by Coalition naval and aerial bombardment. However, determined French resistance and crippling supply problems prevented Coalition forces from ever advancing more than a few dozen miles inland. As the campaign dragged on Brittany became a byword for failure as the British were forced to throw more and more men into the battle just to maintain their beachhead. Perceived British incompetence and callousness did much to alienate the Canadian and Irish soldiers fighting for the crown, a legacy which would have important consequences after the war.
Italian Soldiers on Patrol near Torino
With Italy having reentered the Great War in May, 1910 after a nearly 18 month hiatus; the Italians initially made good progress against the disintegrating Austro-Hungarians in the northeast. After liberating Venice and Verona by the end of June, Italian commander Generalissimo Lucchesi turned his armies east to rid northwestern Italy of the French invaders. The French 5th Army, then the primary Entente formation in Italy, was critically undersupplied and manned and as such was forced to fall back towards France. On July 26, 1910 Milan was liberated after a brief delaying action by the French. Milan however would prove to be the last of the low hanging fruit as stiff French resistance around Torino would force the Italians to settle into protracted trench warfare. It was during this stalemate during the late summer of 1910, that Lucchesi’s forces benefited from large amounts of American aid in the form of weapons and food. Also, the American 7th Infantry Division would land in Italy in August and distinguish itself in a number of engagements in the Piedmont region.
The Liberation of Luxembourg
Following the victory in the Rhineland Pocket, the Coalition armies began pressing southwards. By the end of September, 1910 the American Expeditionary Force had liberated Luxembourg, and the Prussians, British, and Russians had forced the French back to their 1907 borders all along the front line. As the noose tightened around France, dissension was growing within the French army and public. Because Napoleon IV refused to negotiate with the Coalition due to their demand for his abdication, an ever-increasing number of Frenchmen began to view the Emperor as the ultimate obstacle to peace.
Prussian Machine Gun in action around the Rhine River
[i] Formally known as the American Expeditionary Corps.
American troops during Operation Titanic
In what would prove to be the final and largest Coalition offensive of the Great War, Operation Titanic pitted the combined might of the Coalition of Free Nations against the Grande Armee of the French Empire. Along France’s eastern border the Coalition could muster a total of 5 Prussian, 3 British, 3 American, and 1 Russian Armies. While French armies were numerically larger than their Coalition counterparts Napoleon IV could only rely on the heavily attrited First, Second, Third and Fourth armies to defend his crumbling empire. The first of the three stages of Operation Titanic occurred on October 7, 1910 when Prussian Army Group B, composed of the Prussian 3rd and 6th Armies, engaged the French 4th Army at several points along the western bank of the Rhine. The second phase began 10 days later on October 17th, when the BEF and Russian 7th Army, now under the command of General Alexi Brusilov, crossed the border into France south of Saarbrucken and attacked the French 3rd Army and elements of the French 2nd Army. The third stage of the operation occurred on October 25th when, with the vast majority of the French army fixed on the attacking Russians and British, the AEF and Prussian Army Group A, composed of the Prussian 1st, 2nd, and 4th Armies, advanced south from Luxembourg towards the French city of Metz. The next few weeks of the operation would see some of the most intense combat of the war. In the air record numbers of French and Coalition airships and airplanes bombed and strafed while on the ground superior Coalition numbers overwhelmed the entrenched French infantry.
British Cataphract (Cat) Mk. 1
Supported by offensives in Brittany and northern Italy, the constant pressure of the Coalition advance began to break the French. On November 4, 1910 Metz fell as Coalition armored cars and new armored tracked vehicles called cataphracts, or cats for short, continued south towards Nancy. The Battle of Nancy would last for over a week, as the Coalition first encircled and then pounded into submission this important French supply and transportation hub. On November 19th, Nancy surrendered to AEF commander LTG James F. Bell. In the following week French resistance in Alsace-Lorraine began to deteriorate as tens of thousands of hungry and demoralized French soldiers surrendered. By the end of the month, the once Grande Amree was in full retreat to the southwest.
Operation Titanic Order of Battle
American Expeditionary Force (AEF): General James F. Bell
1st Army: Robert Lee Bullard
3rd Army: Leonard Wood
4th Army: John Pershing
British Expeditionary Force (BEF): Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener
1st Army: Julian Byng
2nd Army: John French
3rd Army: Douglas Haig
Prussian Army Group A: Field Marshal Schlieffen
1st Army:Johannes Georg von der Marwitz
2nd Army:Otto Liman von Sanders
4th Army: Alexander Von Kluck
Prussian Army Group B: Field Marshal Von Moltke
3rd Army:Karl von Bulow
6th Army:Oskar von Huiter
Russian 7th Army: General Alexi Brusilov
French 1st Army: Ferdinand Foch
French 2nd Army:Louis Franchet d'Esperey
French 3rd Army:Jospeh Gallieni
French 4th Army: Robert Nivelle
The December Revolution
With the collapse of the French armies in Alsace-Lorraine it became clear to everyone in the French capital that the war was now unwinnable. Everyone that is except for the Emperor. On November 29, 1910 Napoleon IV addressed his supreme war council where he stated that preparations should be made to turn Paris into “the greatest redoubt in Christendom” were like the Byzantine capital of old it would “hold out for years against the godless hordes!” Several of the advisors present argued however that with the frontline in Alsace-Lorraine collapsing and the renewed Coalition offensives in Brittany and Italy making progress the country would be completely overwhelmed in two to three months. Led by the capable Brigadier General Augustin Follet several officers present argued that after over three years of war, the Coalition blockade, and crippling food and ammunition shortages the nation and the people could not carry on the war through the winter. Upon hearing this it is said that Bonaparte flew into a rage and declared that any discussion doubting France’s victory would be considered treason.
On the evening of December 3, 1910, in what would be become known as the December Revolution, Brig. General Augustin Follet and his confederates launched their plan to topple the monarchy and bring the war to an end. Having cut communications to the Imperial Guard barracks on the outskirts of the city, Follet began distributing the contents of several of the Parisians armories to members of the republican underground under the command of Marcel Ames. Around 10:45pm the group of roughly 450 disaffected soldiers and armed citizens marched on the imperial residence at the Tuileries. After blowing the gates and a brief firefight Follet and Ames’s republicans gained entry into the palace’s courtyard, with his guards deserting him and no avenue of escape, the Emperor made one last attempt to calm the situation. Appearing on a balcony overlooking the courtyard, along with the Prince Imperial Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon IV declared in a loud and defiant voice quoting his great-uncle “If any man would shoot his emperor he may do so now!” It would prove to be Napoleon IV’s last words as he and his son’s bodies were soon riddled by rifle fire from the mob who took up the chant Vive La Republique! With the Emperor dead, Paris descended in to open revolt for the next three days as hundreds of thousands of French citizens poured into the streets to fight against the gendarmerie and a few loyal imperial units. News of the Emperor’s death spread like wildfire through the remnants of the French Army who began deserting and surrendering en masse.
Last known photograph of Napoleon IV in civilian clothes
taken 2 days before his death
December 1, 1910
End of the Great War
On December 7 with Paris secured, Marcel Ames proclaimed the existence of the Third French Republic on top of the pile of rubble that was once the gigantic equestrian statue of Napoleon I to an exuberant crowd of over a million Parisians. An armistice was signed between delegations from the new French Republic and the Coalition powers in the city of Reims two days later. After three years and three months of fighting, the largest and most destructive war in human history was finally over.
Victory celebrations in New York City
December 9, 1910
The Treaty of Brussels
February – October 1911
With the Great War over and the Coalition victorious the world’s attention now turned to building a lasting peace. The Belgian city of Brussels was chosen as the sight of the negotiations which would last for nearly nine months before a comprehension deal could be reached.
Third French Republic
At the treaty negotiations France would see its once grand empire divided amongst the victors. Having violently overthrown the French Empire, including having killed its despised former Emperor, gave the French republican delegates a degree of legitimacy with the Coalition powers during the negotiations. Furthermore, the new French government, unlike its predecessor, had little desire to preserve its overseas empire, instead willing to trade overseas territories in order to not have to pay exorbitant monetary reparations. This is a clearly illustrated by France ceding Cameroun to the new Federal Kingdom of Germany. By the end of the treaty negotiations France had lost all of her American, Pacific, Asian and most of her African colonies managing only to retain Algeria. France was forced to allow Corsica and Alsace-Loraine to hold referendums on whether to remain part of France, become independent, or join Italy and Germany respectively. In the end, both provinces remained part of the republic. Furthermore, limits were placed on the French army and navy, and a demilitarized zone along France’s western border was established for twenty five years. Although tough, the treaty did not saddle the young republic with huge monetary reparations or permanently lose any of France’s metropolitan territory allowing the country to recover and prosper in the coming decades.
The United States of America
In the treaty, the United States retained nearly all of its island conquests. In the Caribbean the U.S. gained the Panama Canal, Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemey, and Saint Martin. In the north Atlantic the tiny islands ofSaint Pierre and Miquelon were kept despite protest from the Newfoundland government and ceded to the State of Maine. In the Pacific the United States acquired a virtual island empire having annexed all of the former French possessions in Polynesia and Micronesia. The Treaty of Brussels also acknowledged American dominance of the Philippine Archipelago. Not wanting to spend the resources garrisoning the unruly islands, the United States would establish the Philippines as an independent republic in 1916 after gaining considerable trade and naval basing rights.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
In terms of square miles of territory gained the United Kingdom received the most at the treaty negotiations. Britain greatly increased its African holdings by acquiring Madagascar, the Sudan, and most of French central and west Africa. The treaty granted Britain control of the Suez Canal and Egypt, which Britain set up as a puppet Kingdom of Egypt. Furthermore, Britain established puppet states in Mesopotamia and Indochina. In total, the British Empire would reach its zenith after the Great War controlling more than a quarter of the globe’s population and territory.
Italy regained all the land lost in the Treaty of Milan and annexed all of the Italian speaking regions of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Due to the enormous damages that Italy suffered during the course of the war, many Italians including their new President Brancaleone Lucchesi, wished acquire further territories from France such as Corsica, Provence, and Savoy. During the course of the negotiations France retained Savoy and Provence but was forced to offer Corsicans a referendum on whether they wished to join Italy, become independent, or remain part of France with the Corsicans ultimately choosing the later. The Italian Republic did receive from France the important North African territory of Tunis-Tripolitania which included parts of Cyrenaica as well as vast stretches of desert in the interior.
Having already gained Manchuria during the Treaty of Honolulu, the Treaty of Brussels allowed Russia to annex Galicia as well as some territory from the Ottoman Empire in the Caucuses. In eastern Anatolia, Russia established the Kingdom of Kurdistan as a protectorate. Although not specified in the Treaty of Brussels, Russia greatly expanded its sphere of influence in the Balkans following the war.
Kingdom of Prussia/ Federal Kingdom of Germany
Having occupied nearly all of the German speaking areas of Europe by the end of the war, many in the Prussian government decided that the time was at hand to finally create a pan-German state. While negotiations were ongoing in Brussels, the Kaiser convened a convention in Berlin to discuss the formation of a new German nation. At the Berlin convention there was a wide variety of fractions present from Prussia, Austria, and the south German states including militarists, monarchist, republicans, federalists, and those wanting to only incorporate the Protestant or Catholic segments of Germany. After months of debate on August 5, 1911 an agreement was finally reached in what many historians would claim to be one of the best managed compromises in political history. The German states would be united into a new constitutional parliamentary monarchy known as the Federal Kingdom of Germany with the 80 year old Frederick III as the largely ceremonial King of the Germans. Although there were some who wished to see Frederick III elevated to Emperor it was rejected for two reasons. First, there was little need to elevate the monarch’s title as with Bavaria’s and Württemberg’s kings overthrown, Saxony remained the only other Kingdom in the realm (In 1912 in exchange for an unspecified sum the King of Saxony agreed to revert back to his pre 1806 of elector). Secondly, Frederick III who had done much to support democratic reforms during his reign rejected the title stating that “a humble king is all that the good German people require.” Internally, the Kingdom itself was divided into several lander or states with significant levels of autonomy. The new German constitution called for a bicameral parliament with the lower house elected from amongst the people (women would not get the vote until the late 1920’s) and an upper house chosen from the nobility from the various states. The constitutional protected both protestant and catholic religions, freedom of assembly and press, and the rule of law. The signing of the Treaty of Brussels in October of 1911 internationally acknowledged the formation of the Federal Kingdom of Germany and made it the new dominate power on the European continent.
The World after the Treaty of Brussels. 1912
The Post War United States
50 Star Flag of the United States after the admission of Santo Domingo
Demobilization and “An Empire of Islands”
American soldiers returning from the Great War received a hero’s welcome with large tickertape parades in nearly all of the nation’s major cities. With the war over and won, the United States underwent a massive demobilization of its army and navy. However, Secretary of War Roosevelt and Secretary of the Navy Mahan did ensure that the lessons learned during the Great War would not be lost becoming the basis for American military doctrine for decades to come.
The Treaty of Brussels confirmed American ownership over the territories it conquered from France in the Pacific and Caribbean during the war in what Secretary of State McKinley called “An empire of islands”. Before leaving office President Lincoln and Secretary of State McKinley would work tirelessly to organize these new territories and start them on the eventually path to statehood. The notion that these oversea territories would eventually become full fledged states did not sit well with most Democrats and some of the fringe imperialistic elements of the Republican Party. By 1913 however, America’s oversea possessions were divided into territories and commonwealths including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Guadeloupe and Martinique, Polynesia, Micronesia, Guiana, and the Canal Zones.
Santo Domingo Joins the Union
Having been under American control since 1869, Santo Domingo achieved statehood on November 19, 1912 becoming the nation’s 50th State. Today, it is widely acknowledged that statehood for Santo Domingo was delayed for decades due to concern over the state’s Spanish language and high percentage of blacks and mulattos. The Great War however, saw Dominican units composed of all races perform admirably in the Caribbean and European theaters earning the island a reputation for patriotic and spirited soldiers. As with the neighboring state of Cuba, English became the language of government and was taught alongside Spanish in public schools.
Civil Rights and the 15th Amendment
Like the Spanish-American War but more so, the Great War was a proving ground for many ethnic minorities in America who distinguished themselves in both segregated and integrated units in nearly every theater of the war. Furthermore, while enormous numbers of men were mobilized for the war, millions of American women entered the workforce. In the wake of these achievements the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which had been proposed before the war, was finally ratified on November 15, 1913 stating…
“Section 1: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex, race, religion, or color.
Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Although it did not end ethnic segregation and would not be fully enforced in some parts of the south for decades, the passage of the 15th Amendment is seen as a successful conclusion to the women’s suffrage movement and what is known as the first wave of the civil rights movement. At a celebration to mark the ratification of the amendment in Atlanta, Georgia civil rights icons Rev. Samuel G. McGuffey and George W. Harley led a crowd of over 150,000 black and white men and women in singing the “Battle Cry of Freedom” which Congress had been officially recognized as the nation’s national anthem two weeks before.
1912 Presidential Elections
Republican from New York
23rd President of the United States
Despite considerable pressure from certain areas of the Republican Party and the public President Robert T. Lincoln stuck with his pledge to not seek a fourth term. The contest for the Republican nomination soon became a contest between Vice President Andrew Johnson Jr. and Secretary of War Theodore Roosevelt after Secretary of State William McKinley refused to run on grounds of old age and poor health. Johnson was a moderate Republican who largely favored keeping the status quo. Roosevelt however, was an ardent supporter of more controversial issues such as African American civil rights and the democratic integration of America’s newly won overseas territories. At the Republican convention held in Kansas City, Missouri Roosevelt eventually won the nomination declaring in a rousing acceptance speech that “This party, the party of Lincoln, will always stand for free trade, free men, and a free world!” For Vice President, the moderate Jacob R. Alexander of Oregon was selected to balance the ticket. The Democrats selected Judson Harmon of Ohio and Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama to head their ticket on largely the same protectionist, isolationist, and segregationist platform the Democratic Party had used for decades. In the end Roosevelt beat Harmon by a wide margin and was inaugurated as the 23rd President of the United States.
The Legacy of Robert Todd Lincoln
After leaving office in 1913, President Robert T. Lincoln returned home to Springfield, Illinois with his family. Following in his father’s footsteps RTL would further distinguish himself as an author by writing a bestselling memoir of his life as well as a two volume history of the Great War. In retirement, Lincoln lent his enormous prestige to several causes including civil rights and veteran affairs until his death on February 12, 1926 at the age of 81. In his twelve years as President, Lincoln had taken an America reeling from the Great Depression of 1897 and transformed the nation into a major world power while at the same time making significant advances in civil rights, infrastructure, and economic reform. As such, RTL is considered today by many historians to be one of the best U.S. Presidents in history surpassed only by his father and George Washington.
 Please keep in mind that the TL’s Theodore Roosevelt bears little resemblance to OTL’s especially concerning race relations.
The World in 2011. Please note that the Imperial Eurasian Federation has granted considerable autonomy to its constituent nations which are not shown.
The World in 2011
Imperial Eurasian Federation
Despite the name change, part of the 1971 restructuring, the Imperial Eurasian Federation (IEF) is still often known in the West by its old name, the Russian Empire. Having slugged its way to victory in both the Russo-Japanese War and the Great War the IEF is arguable the greatest world power behind the United States. A Federal Constitutional Parliamentary Monarchy, the IEF is the world’s largest country and the world’s fourth biggest economy behind Germany and Britain. The IEF describes itself as a multinational state composed of several “ethnic nations” all who claim allegiance to the Emperor, currently Alexander VI, all though he no longer holds any real governmental powers. Since the 1980’s, the Imperial Eurasian Federation has been plagued by increasingly active secessionist and autonomist movements from within the Empire by minority groups from Finland to Poland to Georgia to the Muslim and increasingly volatile central Asian provinces. As a result, the Federation’s parliament, the Duma, has ceded increasing amounts of control over domestic affairs away from the central government to the provinces. Despite some internal instability the IEF still manages to maintain one of the planet’s largest militaries and a respectable space program.
While a period of prolonged tension with the British Empire characterized the first half of the Twentieth Century, Anglo-Russian relations thawed considerable in the late 1950’s. Since the end of the Great War, the German-Russian alliance has been a cornerstone of international diplomacy, although disagreements between the Germans and Russians over spheres of influence in Eastern Europe and the Balkans has in recent decades rendered the alliance less effective than is often perceived in the West. Despite being a democracy herself, the IEF is often criticized for its support of the repressive regimes in Mongolia and East Turkistan and its often belligerent attitude in East Asia. Despite America’s strong security and trade agreements with the Korean Empire and the Republic of China, the IEF and the United States have maintained relatively close and mostly friendly relations since the end of the Great War.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The British Empire reached its height in the years following the Great War ruling more than a quarter of the world’s territory and people. However the seeds for the the United Kingdom’s slide from global hegemon to simply a great power were sown long ago. The start of the decline of the British Empire is usually fixed at 1957 when after several bloody years of trying to keep the rebellious Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh subjects of India under their rule the British were forced to withdraw. A legacy of Britain’s divide and conquer strategy is the fragmented state that the subcontinent assumed in the years following independence. Ireland which had achieved home rule as a dominion in the years following the Great War would not officially break away until anger over the war in India made the Irish finally declare themselves a republic in 1956. After trying to keep India by force the UK allowed most of her other possessions and dominions to drift away in the second half of the twentieth century. In 2011, the UK still holds an impressive array of territories such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Gibraltar, the Falklands, British Honduras, and over a dozen smaller islands in the Pacific and Caribbean. The UK also has considerable influence over the dominions of Jamaica, Guiana, and Cyprus. Economically, the UK is the third largest economy in the world only slightly behind that of Germany.
During the first half of the twentieth century Britain was principally concerned with stopping Russian encroachment in South Asia and the Far East. The second half of the twentieth century saw Britain preoccupied with keeping as much of its crumbling Empire as it could. It was also during this time that Britain saw several of its traditional allies such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand drift increasingly away from the crown and towards the United States. This however, did little to hamper Anglo-American relations which have remained strong since the Great War as seen in the current cooperation between the American and British space programs for the missions to Mars in the first decade of the twentieth century.
Federal Kingdom of Germany
While victory in the Great War had come at a heavy price, it did achieve all of Germany’s territorial ambitions. This allowed Germany to concentrate on its economy becoming the second largest in the world by 2011. Although the Federal Kingdom of Germany continued to liberalize over the decades the German army remains the strongest in Europe. Diplomatically Germany is on good terms with the United States, the IEF, and the Italian Republic while tensions with Britain on continental leadership have flared up from time to time. Germany was forced to grant Independence to its only colony, Kameroon, in the 1980’s although it keeps a small swath of territory from where it operates its highly successful space program.
Third French Republic
In the wake of their defeat in the Great War, France was left bankrupt and striped of nearly all of her once great colonial possessions. The newly created Third French Republic however was able to survive the turbulent post war years retaining both Corsica and Alsace-Loraine in their Treaty of Brussels mandated referendums. In the decades following the war, the republican government weathered the storm of extremist parties from both the left and the right with a small number of centrist parties eventually coming to monopolize modern French politics. Forsaking territorial aggrandizement France concentrated on its economy which steadily improved over the years until it became the sixth largest in the world.
Diplomatically isolated after the Great War, France pursued a policy of strict nonalignment until the 1940’s. Partially estranged from both Great Britain and Germany due to proximity France has over the years developed a close alliance with the United States, and in recent years with the Italian Republic. By the end of the 1980’s France had granted independence to most of its North African territories with the exception of the Mediterranean Coast which is incorporated as a part of Metropolitan France due to heavy French immigration over the decades. France exercises effective suzerainty over the sparsely populated Free State of Algeria.
Republic of China
After nearly 18 years of fighting in a conflict that left untold millions dead from war and famine, Republican forces finally secured the capital of Peking in 1921. General Chen Ching-Kuo was installed as the first President of the new Republic of China (RoC). During the chaos, the Russians succeeded in creating independent states out of Mongolia and East Turkestan. Tibet with British aid also achieved international recognition as an independent country. Exhausted from its long Civil War, the Republic of China experiences decades of turbulent rule until its transition to true democracy in the 1980’s. Today, China is the world’s 5th largest economy and an important manufacture center.
The RoC has often found itself at odds with the Russian Empire, later IEF, over the Russians support for the repressive regimes in Mongolia and East Turkestan as well as the RoC’s support for greater autonomy in Russian Manchuria. In recently years however, Sino-Russian relations have mellowed considerable as the IEF has relaxed its military posture in the Far East. The Republic of China maintains good relations with the Empire of Korea, having singed a collective security treaty with Korea in 1952 aimed at deterring Japan from any future aggression. China’s greatest ally continues to be the United States with the Chinese being an active if somewhat junior partner in the American space program.
Hindu Republic of India
In what proved to be the bloodiest conflict of the 20th Century after the Great War and the Chinese Civil War, the Indian War for Independence (1949-1957) left the former British possessions on the sub-Continent impoverished and fragmented. With its capital in New Deli, the Hindu Republic of India is the largest successor state to the British Raj. For most of its history since gaining independence in 1957, India has struggled with an often corrupt democratic government that has engaged in several small skirmishes and conflicts with its non Hindu neighbors. Starting with the leadership of President Singh Vikrama during the 1990’s, India has made considerable progress in recent years towards eradicating corruption and establishing peaceful relations with its neighbors. Diplomatically speaking, India is somewhat of a wildcard often switching alignment between the Russians, Germans, British, and Americans depending on the circumstances.
Empire of Japan
Having been evicted from Korea by the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1910, the Empire of Japan entered a period of deep self imposed isolation until 1941 when the authoritarian Kobushi party came to power which still rules Japan to this day. Throughout the second half of the 20th Century Japan has from time to time, with its large and well equipped military, threatened war with its neighbors the most memorably being the 1964 Philippine Crisis when it took the presence of the U.S. Navy to ultimately force the Japanese to back down. In the 21st Century the Kobushi regime has come under increasing international pressure to open up and liberalize Japanese society and maintains friendly relations with an ever decreasing amount of nations which in 2011 are limited to a few of the remaining militant regimes in Africa and south Asia.
In the century since the end of the Great War, Latin America has experienced long periods of steady economic growth and developed into functioning democracies. The biggest success stories of Latin America are the United Mexican States, the Federated States of Brazil, the Argentine Republic, and the Republic of Chile. Known as the Latin Four these powers all have a high standard of living and are important actors on the world stage. All nations in Latin America, along with the Canada and the USA, are members of the Alliance of American States (AAS) headquartered in Havana which, despite allegations of being a tool of the United States, has over the years proven to be the most capable and competent economic and military alliance on the planet. Many nations in Latin America remain further tied to the most powerful nation in the hemisphere by either using or having their own currencies tied to the U.S. dollars.
The Middle East
The Middle East of the 21st Century is to mostly divide into the five powers of the Sultanate of Arabia, Kingdom of Mesopotamia, Republic of Greater Syria, the Persian Empire and the Turkish Republic. Created in the wake of the Great War, Arabia remains one the world’s few remaining absolutely monarchies ruled by Sultan and Caliph of all the Muslims Abdullah III, with a high standard of living and large military purchased with the nation’s enormous oil wealth. Persia and Mesopotamia are functioning constitutional monarchies that also benefit from the large amounts of petroleum found within their borders. The Turkish Republic is the successor state to the Ottoman Empire which finally collapsed in 1943 when its Arab provinces broke away to form the Republic of Greater Syria. Both nations are nominally democratic although interference from the militaries has prevented further democratic reforms. Overall, the Middle East since the Great War has been largely at peace and is today beginning to approach the same status of living as many European countries.
In the 50 years following the Treaty of Brussels, Africa was nearly completely divided and ruled by the victorious Coalition powers. Although the Kingdom of Egypt gained complete independence from Britain in 1941 most historians place the start of African decolonization at 1964 when the Congo gained independence from Belgium. Over the next 30 years the European powers were forced to withdraw from their African possessions, some nations like Portugal and Belgium fought bitter guerrilla wars to keep their colonial holdings while others like the United Kingdom gradual disengaged from their African territories when they were deemed to be ready for self government. During this time the United States was the chief champion of African independence a fact which no doubt accelerated European disengagement. By 1993 nearly all of Africa had achieved independence. Three notable exceptions being parts of the Mediterranean coast which due to the influx of European settlers remained parts of France and Italy and a small patch of territory known as German Kameroon which serves as the main hum for the German space program. In the 21st Century, Africa remains the world’s most impoverished and political unstable continent. However, some nations such as South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, the East African Federation, and Kameroon are growing to become regional powers both economically and militarily.
The Union Forever
America in 2011
58 Star Flag of the United States
The United States emerged from the Great War the master of what then Secretary of State William McKinley termed “an empire of islands.” Over the next 100 years, these new territorial acquisitions, along with the previously existing possessions of Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, would be incorporated into the Union for a total of 58 states by the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Name: Puerto Rico Date of Statehood: November, 3 1936 Capital: San Juan Pop: 3,924,677
Name: Hawaii Date of Statehood: March, 28 1937 Capital: Honolulu Pop:1,375,641
Name: Alaska Date of Statehood: April, 21 1942 Capital: Sedgewick Pop: 950,322
Name: Guadeloupe and Martinique Date of Statehood: November, 11 1949 Capital: Pointe-a Pitre Pop:903,203
Name: Panama Date of Statehood: February, 6 1951 Capital: Panama City Pop:3,505,667
Name: Pacifica Date of Statehood: January, 18 1979 Capital: Apia Pop: 646,432
Name: Micronesia Date of Statehood: November, 22 1988 Capital: Dededo Pop: 558,495
Name: Guiana Date of Statehood: July, 2 1992 Capital: Lincoln Pop: 496,244
Today, the United States with over 350 million inhabitants is considered to be one of the most ethnically egalitarian societies on the planet. Although blacks and women gained the vote with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1913, it would not be until the “second wave” of the civil rights movement during the 1940’s and early 1950’s that segregation in the South and discrimination of women in the workplace would be largely ended. After integration, important Civil Rights milestones would be the election of the first female president Margaret L. Stewart (D/CA) in 1976 and the first African American president Franklin M. Blanton (R/OH) in 1988. In 2000, Nicholas J. Santiago (R) from Cuba became the first Hispanic president and, in what many considered to be long overdue, in 2008 Benjamin G.T. (Glad Turtle) Hastings (R) from Sequoyah became the first Native American President of the United States. Many historians and political scientist agree that America’s unique way of successfully integrating all of its citizens and territories as full members within the Union is a key factor in allowing the United States to become the strongest nation on earth.
The United States is the world’s greatest economy being several times larger than any other on earth. A primary characteristic of the American economy has been its steady growth and low unemployment, with none of the recessions since the Great War ever surpassing the Depression of 1897 in severity. To accurately describe the U.S. economy one is forced to list a string of superlatives. As of 2011, the United States is the world’s largest trading nation, maintains the world’s largest stock market, the New York Stock Exchange, and is the world’s greatest manufacturer although in recent decades the United States economy has moved away from manufacturing and towards new information based technologies. The United States is the number one destination on the planet for tourism, with tourism being crucial to the economies of most of its Caribbean and Pacific states. Generally speaking American films, books, music, television, and video games are the most popular and best selling in the world, leading some in other nations like Germany and Russia to make claims of American “cultural imperialism”. The U.S dollar is the de facto world currency with dozens of nations, especially in the Western Hemisphere, either adopting or tying their own currencies to it.
From 1913-1921, President Roosevelt would in many ways continue the Lincolnian foreign policy of his predecessor. The greatest achievement of which being the 1914 purchase of the Panamanian isthmus from Columbia accomplished with liberal use of both carrot and stick. Following Roosevelt’s two terms his largely Democratic successors would plunge the United States into renewed isolationism until the Republican administration of President Leroy R. Connor in 1948. During the second half of the twentieth century the United States remained a staunch champion of democratization and decolonization earning the United States the goodwill of billions of people in the developing world. In nearly every area of the world, the United States is pulling ahead of Britain, Germany, and Russia to become the preeminent world power. As the undeclared leader of the Alliance of American States (AAS) the United States heads one of the most powerful alliance systems in the world. In the Pacific, the United States maintains close bilateral relations with the Empire of Korea, Republic of China, and the Philippine Republic for economic purposes and to guard against Japanese aggression. Africa, recently freed from the shackles of European colonialism, has to a large extent turned to America for guidance on economic, military, and political issues. Despite what some see as American encroachment on their former spheres of influence, the United States has since the end of the Great War remained on good terms with its former Coalition allies, with only brief periods of tension like the Indian War for Independence (1949-1957) and the Manchurian Incident (1969) spoiling otherwise sunny relations.
Although President Theodore Roosevelt would follow in Robert T. Lincoln’s footsteps and favor a strong and relatively large military, Roosevelt’s Democratic successors dramatically curtailed military spending in the decades following the Great War. Many economist and historians have made the point that the U.S.’s low monetary expenditure on their military forces in comparison to the British, Germans, and Russians contributed to the enormous economic growth that the United States experienced in the century following the war. Generally speaking, the U.S. has favored having a relatively small but highly trained and equipped active duty Army, Navy, and Air Force composed since 1911 completely of volunteers. And although there hasn’t been a need to mobilize them since the Great War, the United States maintains sizable reserve and National Guard forces. Although many other nations maintain larger standing armies, by 2011 the United States is deemed to have one of the best, if not the best, military in the world, especially if grouped with its sister forces in the AAS, all of whom share standardized ranks, calibers, organization, and to a large extent equipment. The United States detonated the world’s first nuclear weapon in 1963. Today the U.S. remains one of the world’s premier nuclear powers with approximately 500 nuclear weapons, the maximum number the Nuclear Arms Limitation Treaty of 1975 signed by America, Germany, Britain, and Russia allows.
Another area where the United States is the undisputed world leader is in space exploration. The Columbus I became the first manmade satellite to orbit the earth in 1961. 5 years later under the military/civilian United States Space Agency (USSA), Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Walter K. Melton of Georgia became the first man in space, narrowly beating out German astronaut Colonel Maximilian Schwiezer. In the years that followed Melton’s flight a race to be the first to land on the moon ensued between the American, German, British, and Russian space programs. The United States would emerge victorious in this endeavor as well, with naval aviator George W. Lopez of Cuba becoming the first man to land on the moon on July 1, 1976. Lopez would receive a hero’s welcome with a massive tickertape parade through New York City on the nation’s bicentennial. And although the Germans would build the first space station, the Freiden, in 1978 and the Russians would conduct a manned Venus flyby in 1987, the United States would ultimately win the space race when in 1999 James Koonce of Montana became the first man to walk on Mars. As of 2011, the United States has made a total of five landings on Mars, with the last two being joint missions with the British and Chinese space agencies.
July 4, 2011
Independence Day, 2011 would go down in U.S. history as one of the largest celebrations ever held in the nation’s capital. Held near the anniversaries of several important historical events such as the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the centennial of the Treaty of Brussels, President Benjamin G.T. Hastings, decreed that the 4th of July, 2011 should be a “celebration of the American saga, of how a nation who was nearly destroyed by internal conflict could in 50 years time rise up to defeat the mighty Napoleonic Empire and in the following century becoming the preeminent economic, military, cultural, and technological power on the planet.” At a speech given on the Washington Mall between the two Lincoln and Great War memorials, President Hastings addressed a crowd of over 3 million people declaring that “Americans everywhere should be proud of the unprecedented 100 years of peace and prosperity since the Great War, which has seen this empire of liberty of ours grow from Maine to Micronesia, from Alaska to Panama. While other nations and empires have either collapsed or stagnated, this Republic of ours has remained strong and continues to grow stronger by the day. Let no man doubt that our constitution and our Union are forever!” That evening would see parades and massive displays of fireworks throughout the country, and as on all Independence Days singing of the Battle Cry of Freedom well into the night….
Yes we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
We will rally from the Southland, we'll gather from the North,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the tyrants, and up with the stars;
While we rally round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
We are springing to the call with a million freemen more,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And we'll fill our vacant ranks of our brothers gone before,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And although he may be poor, not a man shall be a slave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
So we're springing to the call from the East and from the West,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And we'll hurl the evil crew from the land we love best,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
The Union Forever: A TL
America and the World from the
Civil War to the Great War and beyond