Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Alt History Buff, Jun 24, 2019.
This will be a significant plot point in the next few chapters.
1759 - Winter
Colonel George Washington would be assigned the most disagreeable of tasks in evicting thousands of French from their homes. The three thousand American colonial soldiers would assist the British Regulars in forcing the French onto ships on the St. Lawrence throughout 1759 and the ensuing years. Several the leading Canadian officials protested that forcing people from their homes violated the armistice. However General Keppel coldly replied that no such arrangement was made in the surrender terms in ignored the cries that the forcible eviction of so many civilians was standard process in the rules of war.
In truth, the whole of French Canada was disproportionately male, thus allowing a high volume of the residents to resist militarily in the past war. Since most of the adult male population had been in arms, they were treated as prisoners of war no different than the French regulars. As most of the family men were being evicted, they could hardly leave their families behind. Only by nigh-begging on the part of Regular and Colonial officers like Thomas Gage, George Howe, George Washington and John Winslow would General Keppel be convinced to even allow families to sail with their menfolk in chains.
In a savage era, the British purge of the Acadians and Canadian populations would be regarded in Europe as a particularly despicable and ungentlemanly act by Europe's political classes.
Only a handful of French posts in the west remained, utterly cut off from the St. Lawrence. The French backwoodsmen would retreat south to the Mississippi, leaving their longtime Indian allies to their fates. As it was, the tribes of the Pays de Haut would defend themselves quite well in the regions of Upper Louisiana in the next few years, slowing the British colonial advance into the Great Lakes region.
In the meantime, the British Regulars would be withdrawn over the next year or two as William Pitt's ambitions in the West Indies to be realized. Some of the conquerors of Quebec and Montreal would be instrumental in the campaigns of 1760.
Over the past year, the British presence in French San Dominique had been augmented marginally from Britain and Jamaica. Many of the white Jamaican volunteers would be horrified to see Britain effectively encouraging rebellion among slaves. Did they not know that such an attitude may expand to Jamaica and Barbados?
In truth, the French were already thinking along the same lines.
Through the past century, there had been numerous slave rebellions in Jamaica. Maroon communities of escaped slaves in the mountains led a series of insurgencies and finally came to terms with the colonial officials whom granted autonomy if the Maroons would cease instigating rebellion throughout Jamaica. The peace had largely held for years...until a minor French raid on a few coastal plantations encouraged a general slave rebellion.
Under leadership of two African-born slaves, Tacky and Queen Nanny, would rise up. The Maroons, per the treaty, would half-heartedly stand by the British. But the word of a "Great French Invasion" in which thousands of arms and tons of powder were distributed would encourage the insurgents to their greatest rebellion in decades.
By 1759, the British had effectively taken defacto control over the defense of Brazil. Thousands of British soldiers arrived in Salvador, Recife, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero along with a squadron of British vessels. Just as importantly, several surplus British ships were presented to the Brazilians to form their own fleet.
With the Spanish intruding upon the margins of Brazil (the Amazon, the long-disputed southern border), the Brazilians would hire British officers to command their vessels and this alliance would stymy the Spanish from approaching the core British regions.
For the past several years, the Dutch Republic had desperately tried to maintain their neutrality as the Continent fell into war. In previous centuries, wars usually had a religious dimension and the Dutch would, by default, gravitate towards their Protestant compatriots. Since the end of the 30 Years' war, this became less and less of a problem and the old alliances made less sense. Dynastic and political issues dominated more than religion and the Dutch happily allied with the Austrians against the French.
A quick look at the map would show why. With the Austrian Netherlands the only buffer between the lightly populated Dutch Republic and an ascending 17th Century Kingdom of France, the Dutch made alliances with anyone whom could help keep them from being dominating by a more powerful neighbor. It didn't help that the Dutch Republic, which had been unified politically in the Wars of Independence and Wars of Religion, would collapse into a looser confederation without an imminent threat.
By the early 18th Century, it was obvious that the Dutch Republic's once proud Navy had withered. No longer an expansionary power, the Dutch were content with their limited Empire and were generally not bothered by the more vibrant British and French Empires. Like the Portuguese, the Dutch were not a player in international politics going forward to any meaningful degree.
As war once again broke out in Europe, the Dutch steadfastly refused participate despite entreaties from both sides. William Pitt had tried to utilize some legalism of a hundred year old treaty to force the Dutch to the British cause. This was, of course, absurd. Why should the Dutch join a war started by a cowardly Prussian attack on neutral Saxony in the west and by some border skirmishes between French and British colonies in some obscure portion of North America?
Pitt then demanded that the Dutch return a "Scottish Brigade" which had been recruited for Dutch service over the past century. The Dutch, once again, refused. They pointed out the Scottish Brigade possessed only a small percentage of Scots these days (the Scottish officers were allowed to resign if they wished and return to fight for Britain) with the bulk of the lower ranks actually mainly German.
The British also demanded that Regiments hired for petty German states for Dutch Service to be turned over to them (the little state of Waldeck historically presented a Regiment or two to the Dutch). This was even more insulting as those contracts were between the local Princes and the Republic. Why should the Dutch hand over these troops? Why should the troops obey (though in some cases, the sovereigns agreed but that was hardly the Republic's problem)?
Throughout the years of War, the Dutch would quietly go about their business, trying not to make waves or draw attention to themselves. Unlike the Danes and other "Neutral" powers, the Dutch did not trade in war material thus reinforcing their neutrality. This didn't stop the other powers attempting to drag the Dutch into a war in which they were utterly unsuited to partake.
Unfortunate news from India arrived which held that the Dutch East India Company and British East India Company had come to blows. While these companies were not necessarily reflective of their respective governments, that did not mean that the general public understood that distinction. All they heard was "Dutch" and "British" coming to blows. Ill feelings abounded.
The ill-will spilled over outside of India as several Dutch ships were seized in the West Indies by the Royal Navy for "supplying the enemy", namely the Dutch merchants shipping foodstuffs (though nothing that normally qualified as war material).
The Dutch breathed a sigh of relief when the war on the Continent ended. Britain still warred with France and Spain but that was far away and unlikely to affect the Dutch. Then the ghastly news that the Austrian Empress had handed over the Austrian Netherlands to the French arrived. The threat to Dutch independence had not been so great since the victorious Hundred Years war with Spain. With no real chance of repelling a French assault, the Dutch would forever be at the mercy of their more powerful neighbor.
And the new Foreign Minister, the duc de Choiseul, did not waste time exploiting this fear.
If only the Dutch would agree to....rent....the French some ships, there is no reason why their borders would ever be threatened. Seeing the potential for French troops on their undefended border, the Dutch agreed to the "rental"...along with the sailors.
Upon learning of even the discussions of this "rental", the Royal Navy was ordered to seize the Dutch controlled islands in the West Indies, most notably St. Eustatius, Saba and the Dutch/French island of St. Maartin/St. Martin. These were considered easier targets than attempting to retake St. Kitts or attacking a Spanish/French target like Puerto Rico or Martinique.
While these "victories" over lightly populated trading posts in the Caribbean would be trumpeted by the Pitt-Newcastle administration, they took up precious British resources and did nothing to harm the French and Spanish other than reduce an avenue for Caribbean trade.
Despite all these provocations, the Dutch and British would not declare war upon one another...largely because both sides knew there would be no point. The Dutch would not be able to contribute to the war effort and the British had more important things to worry about.
As it was, the same events were being duplicated in India. As the British commanders (including Lord Clive) would find the French East India Company positions too powerful to attack, they often opted to assault the weaker Dutch East India Company factories instead in a craven attempt to gain leverage or loot. Even the Dutch fortifications on Java were not immune.
1759/1760 - Winter
Having seized most of Canada and had a good start in evicting the 70,000 French residents from the region (particularly the cities of Quebec and Montreal), General Keppel did not rest on his laurels. Once the French insurgency was under control by the 6000 American provincial militias and regiments, 6000 of the 8000 (surviving) British regulars were immediately withdrawn in late fall 1759 and early spring 1760 to be transported south.
The first of these British soldiers were added to a particularly daring expedition to the rich sugar island of Guadeloupe. Bearing around 50,000 souls (90% slaves), the Royal Navy would wipe out a small squadron defending the harbor and land 3500 British troops. Having suffered a particularly rough malaria and yellow fever season in the summer of 1759, there were fewer than 1500 French effectives to defend the island. Their commander, the island's governor had assumed control when the Regimental Major died despite having no military training, foolishly opted to face the British in open battle despite being outnumbered. His forces were comprehensively defeated and scattered, leaving the fortifications unable to be defended.
Hardly believing his luck, Keppel settled into occupy the island. As with the French, Keppel's first order of business was trying to keep the slaves from rebelling. News of huge slave rebellions in Jamaica and San Domingue had reached the nearby French island of Martinique and caused a spontaneous rebellion there as well. This would cut off the only obvious hope of immediate aid from another French island.
This was considered a particularly daring and unexpected attack by the British. Like Jamaica brought in more tax revenue for the British crown than all of the mainland American colonies combined (despite being 15X more populated than Jamaica), Guadeloupe brought in more taxes for France than all of Canada (New France).
The West Indies were considered ideal gains for the crowns as they offered a product whose export could be easily controlled...and taxed, of course.
With most of the French soldiers returning from Brandenburg, Hanover and northwestern Germany, the teetering French government would see her finance ministers beg for peace. The best that the government could do is demobilize surplus regiments. While the French army was vastly larger than the British, there seemed to be no easy way to utilize it on a global campaign.
It was enormously expensive to pay for a soldier on campaign. A rule of thumb was that soldiers on the move in Europe rather than sitting in barracks cost 3x more to feed and provision not to mention the expenses in munitions, transport, etc. To supply and arm a soldier across an ocean cost the nation 5x more...at least.
Worse, the death toll for French soldiers in the West Indies was staggering, the only redeeming feature was that dead soldiers don't cost anything to ship home. With over 25,000 troops in the Caribbean and another 10,000 in Portugal (and perhaps 5000 in India), the French government needed to cut somewhere.
In 1760, over 300,000 French troops were on the books. The King's ministers would demobilize 100,000 of the less effective ones in hopes of cutting costs. All they did was sit around France anyway. This still left 45,000 billeted abroad fighting the British and Portuguese, a terribly expensive proposition.
But the duc de Choiseul knew that the superiority of the Royal Navy could still prove damning to King Louis XV's war. With mastery of the seas, the British could gobble up the West Indies one island at a time. And with British finances, though rickety, still being stronger than France's, he needed a knockout blow...or at least the threat of one to force the British to the negotiation table.
The duc had ordered French agents to encourage rebellion in Ireland for years with little result. Only recently had they even been able to sneak tens of thousands of muskets and thousands of pounds of powder to the island. But the British administration had thoroughly suppressed any form of Irish nationalist (Catholic, anyway) and this proved more important in the British paranoia than anything else. The biggest gain was that the British were forced to garrison several additional regiments in Ireland, denuding Britain even further.
By gathering up French Navy ships (plus Dutch, Danish and Spanish Naval vessels), transports, men and supplies along the Channel in new bases off the French Netherlands and the Dutch Republic, it seemed that a demonstration would be enough to force a peace negotiation.
De Choiseul was willing to make a compromise. God knew that King Louis XV was happy gaining the Austrian Netherlands and kicking the British King out of the Holy Roman Empire. Surely some agreement could be made? He did not expect to get New France and Guadeloupe AND whatever other French possessions had fallen in the war.
But surely Pitt would compromise on....SOMETHING?
1760 - April
In the spring of 1760, William Pitt would bray that he would conquer all of the Americas. George II, by now realizing that Pitt didn't give a damn about regaining Hanover, fell into a deep depression which threatened to consume him. All of Europe had effectively recognized the Danish possession of Hanover and the Pitt Administration made no efforts to pretend that he intended to invade Hanover and preeminent members of his ruling coalition would openly state in Parliament that they would not give up "British" territories conquered in the war to gain back Hanover anyway. Even Lord Newcastle told the king that regaining Hanover would not be possible.
Though the nation groaned under the weight of debt to finance the war Pitt did not seem interested in making peace.
When whispers of invasion emerged, Pitt laughed. He quoted an Admiral whom claimed he did not refute that the French could come....they merely could not COME BY SEA!
It was a fine quote and Pitt repeated it often.
No, he would make Britain the dominant European Empire. Nothing less was acceptable.
1760 - April
When the rivers and seas melted from their icy sheath, an expedition under General John Bradstreet would carry 1500 colonials down the Mississippi River to St. Louis. Though warned of the encroachment, the remote French settlement could not resist and surrendered.
Then the Americans rafted even further towards New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi.
The plan was for the Americans to attack from the north and then meet with a British Royal Navy fleet carrying 1500 British soldiers sailing from New York (mainly veterans of the Canadian campaign) in from the Caribbean side.
By June, the British would arrive without incident only to find that the Americans had already taken New Orleans with shockingly little resistance. Only 250 French regulars were in residence as the French War Department considered the city of secondary importance and unlikely to be attacked. The British would settle in to occupy the outpost which controlled the lightly populated Mississippi River Delta.
1760 - June
With the British regulars departing and British/American settlers arriving in waves, the Americans were largely left to man the western forts abandoned by the French and continue the distasteful policy of forcibly evicting French colonials whom had often resided locally for generations. Men like Epraim Williams and John Winslow of Massachusetts, George Washington of Virginia and Phineus Lyman of Connecticut were given additional responsibility under British supervision of Regular officers like Thomas Gage and Roger Morris.
Few enjoyed the experience. French partisans continued to pester the Americans while the Americans were often condescended to by the British regulars (though not Gage or Morris whom had both wed American heiresses). Still, friendships were developed amongst these Americans and British officers which would be sorely tested in the future.
@Alt History Buff - So now Louisiana is out as a potential place for Canadian exiles. That may potentially leaves Spanish Texas (assuming the British don't conquer that as well) as a destination. Failing that, I just don't see whatever remains of the Acadian and Canadian populations to survive as an ethnic group as they are forcibly assimilated to the dominant Anglo-American culture (especially as the potential French invasion of the British Isles leads to George II and Pitt's government pulling a Portugal-Brazil and flee across the Atlantic, taking even more British Loyalists with them)
Meanwhile, Pitt is now starting to resemble Charles Lawrence in one of more-recent mapgame (only difference being he doesn't try to kill off any parliamentarians and rule as an autocrat, and with France being dominant on the continent, the British can't try to extend genocide to France itself)
So I presume then the Americans are gonna be very resentful (though overstretched as is) when the British government tries to trade away colonial gains in the peace treaty after the French land troops in England?
When I read away the title "Albion's Orphan", I assume that the British government would actually flee the island (akin to the Portuguese royal family fleeing Lisbon for Brazil during the Napoleonic Wars) and try and continue the war from abroad, eventually settling down much like the Holy Brittanian Empire did.
Bit of a spoiler but yes, I'm settling in for a long occupation of Britain.
In OTL, the Acadians were largely spread out among multiple colonies with the intent of diluting their power. As many died in the forced evictions, that also lessened the "threat".
I believe that history tends to consider the Acadians of Louisiana as primarily heirs to this Acadian exile from Nova Scotia. However, that is a simplification. In truth, the modern day Acadians actually are the merged French culture of the Nova Scotia Acadians, the original French settlers of the Mississippi Delta and a large influx of French citizens from the West Indies (San Domingue most specifically) that fled the Haitian revolution.
I think Pitt is simply a man who did not believe he could lose. In OTL, he was right (with a great deal of luck in Prussia). In this TL, he won't be.
1760 - Fall
The French Treasury groaned with the weight of continued war. Though peace had returned to the continent itself (beyond occupied Portugal), the British government continued to wage war. Unofficial feelers would reveal the Duke of Newcastle desired peace but William Pitt did not.
French trade with continental Europe, including the Dutch Republic and Spain, had returned but many goods could only be transported by sea. The Royal Navy made such trade hazardous to say the least.
The duc de Choiseul knew as well as the Finance Minister that France could not keep up the war much longer. Years ago, if Louis XV had been offered the Austrian Netherlands, Minorca, a few petty West Indian islands etc for all of New France (Canada, Upper and Lower Louisiana) and Guadeloupe as well, he would have accepted in a heartbeat without a second thought.
Thus, if de Choiseul sought peace at the status quo, it may not have been a tragedy for France. But the British plainly believed that they could conquer more.
In truth, de Choiseul knew that may be possible. With the wealthiest colony in the Caribbean (San Domingue exported more sugar than ALL of the British colonies combined) under rebellion and its capital of Cap-Francais under occupation by Britain, there was a very real worry that France's Empire might soon be extinct.
And THAT was utterly unacceptable.
The fear of the Royal Navy was very real. The duc considered his country fortunate to have avoided very many large-scale battles at sea. Most French (and Spanish) Admirals tended to tack away when they saw a British fleet of any similar size (or even when they see a smaller British fleet). Though the population and resources of the Bourbon Alliance (with the new declaration of war by the Dutch Republic upon Britain after seizing the Dutch West Indies and with Denmark which occupied Hanover) vastly exceeded Britain's, a war abroad was most tangibly affected by naval power.
Not for the first time, the duc would bemoan the narrow bridge of water called the English Channel which separated Britain from the continent. Had even a modest causeway existed between Britain and France, the former would have spent the past 500 years as a petty northern province of France rather than a perennial thorn in the House of Bourbon's side.
For the past six months, de Choiseul had "demonstrated" against the British by billeting large numbers of soldiers across the channel in hopes of forcing Britain to the bargaining table or at least force it to utilize large amounts of its own limited manpower to guard southern England. That plan apparently failed as Pitt continued to dispatch more and more soldiers to the margins of the world.
De Choiseul determined to make the man pay for this. He summoned home two of France's most successful Generals, the duc de Belle-Isle and Count St. Germain. He would inquire if it were even remotely possible to breach that narrow gap to the enemy homeland.
In the meantime, he dispatched the largest fleet of ships and transports to the New World since the commencement of the war. The ridiculously valuable San Domingue could not be allowed to remain in enemy...or rebel...hands. A dozen warships, 30 transports carrying 8000 soldiers and nearly forty supply ships would sail in September, a time chosen to avoid the worst dangers of the Caribbean hurricane season as well as the yellow fever and malarial seasons.
Once they dropped their cargos, the fleet was ordered back immediately to France.
De Choiseul would also contact his counterpart in Spain, Ensenada, and demand to know what could be done to put an end to this damn expensive war.
@Alt History Buff - Yep, this is going to be like Code Grass, except no sakuradite, no "Washington's Rebellion", and all the other accoutrements.
Courland, West Prussia
For many years, the Duchy of Courland, a sliver of a nation sandwiched between the giant Russian Empire and Polish Commonwealth, had been dominated by the Czars and Czarinas of Russia. When one line ended, the "suggestion" of the Russian monarch would be responsible for selecting a successor. Decades before, Ernst von Biron had been selected as the Duke only to be removed when he fell from favor under Empress Elizabeth. In recent years, Ernst had been rehabilitated in Russia and, in 1756, his son Peter was installed as the new Duke.
Like many Czars and Czarinas, Elizabeth had long thought about just annexing the territory to her own realms. In 1760, she finally decided to do so. Peter was "advised" to cede his Duchy. In return, he would be shocked to find that the Czarina made him a King.
Since the defeat of Frederick II of Prussia, the Czarina had been given the determination of the fate of the Kingdom of East Prussia. Of similar size, wealth and population to Courland, this seemed an even trade though Biron now carried the title of "King". Thirty-six years old and still unmarried, Biron suddenly realized that he was the last male heir of his line and sought to marry quickly (and to reinforce his claim to Royalty). In 1762, he would select Princess Sophie-Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whom would be eighteen at the time.
Though this would not be a happy marriage, Queen Charlotte would prove fertile and produce four healthy sons and one daughter before her husband's violence prevented any further relationship between the two.
Duke Peter Von Biron, later King Peter I of East Prussia.
For several years, the Riksdag of Sweden had hemmed and hawed about selecting an appropriate Protestant to take their throne. The House of Holstein-Gottorp was preferred but their former King, Adolf Frederick, would sour them upon that Royal Family. Still, a choice must be made. The youngest brother of the former King, George, would arrive in Sweden to "offer" to take the throne. There was something of a concern that he was part of a plot to put Adolf Frederick back on the throne. The middle brother, Frederick August, had been made Duke of Oldenburg. Neither particularly like their elder brother and soon George Ludwig was deemed an acceptable candidate. Ironically, he was also a former General of Frederick II of Prussia. Still, the man seemed to know his place and would be sworn in at the King of Sweden, Pomerania, Finland, etc even as his eldest brother fumed in Berlin.
Frederick II had inherited several territories in the northwest German region called the Rhineland. All were relatively small and predominantly Protestant. They included Cleves, Mark, Ravensburg, Linden, Minden and East Frisia. All were stripped by the victors after the war. However, it took several years before the allies came to an agreement as to who would inherit them. France ceded the decision to the Empress of Austria provided that they not be related to the House of Hanover (the British Kings) and "reflected the native religion". In other words, Maria Theresa could not put her Catholic sons on the thrones of the predominantly Protestant nations.
Maria Theresa, being besieged by dozens of requests from assorted Princes to inherit the properties, finally got sick of the matter and just picked who got what.
The younger brothers of Frederick II (uncles to the current Elector of Brandenburg) would eventually be offered the sovereignty of the other possessions of the former King of Prussia in the Rhineland. It turned out most didn't care for Frederick and didn't feel any particular loyalty to his memory (Frederick II huddled in his country estate, ignoring the rest of the world). They also rationalized that keeping the territories "in the Hohenzollern family" justified their actions. Though she despised the House of Hohenzollern, she was monarch enough to know that simply taking away god's rightful Royal Line could be extended to her domains as well and opted to be beneficent in victory. She did, however, break up the assorted little Counties and Duchies and Principalities among several Hohenzollerns to dilute their strength.
The younger brother of Frederick II was Augustus William, whom had died in 1758. His eldest son, Frederick William, now sat on throne of Brandenburg as Elector of the truncated Hohenzollern state. Augustus Williams' second son Prince Henry would become Duke of Cleves.
Frederick II's next younger brother Frederick Henry assumed the Counties of Minden, Lingen and Ravensburg.
Then, Frederick II's youngest brother Augustus Ferdinand was to take the County of Mark.
East Frisia was given to the Dutch Republic.
That left the little Principality of Neuchatel in the Swiss Cantons to be distributed. Having run out of Hohenzollern princes, she cast her gaze about for a Protestant whom had served her well over the years. Given that the Empress loathed Protestants, there weren't man.
Eventually, she just gave Neuchatel to the Swiss-born Financier, Industrialist and former mayor of Zurich Johann von Fries, whom had done well in helping the Austrian Empire regain its finances. The man was reportedly shocked to be informed he was now a Prince. Still, the people of Neuchatel were delighted to find that the Empress wasn't going to hand them over to one of her Catholic sons. Eventually von Fries would return to Neuchatel and take up residence.
1761 - January
The Goree and Senegal - West Africa
Spurred on by the recommendation of a Quaker Businessman, the Southern Secretary of Great Britain, William Pitt, would agree to dispatch an expedition to the small French trading factories of West Africa which supplied France with the bulk of the slaves for the French West Indies.
Guarded only by small "punishment garrisons", the ancient castles would fall quickly to the Royal Navy and modest contingent of Marines. In addition to a large quantity of slaves was a huge amount of dyes and other local goods. It proved to be a most profitable acquisition.
Though a damaging hit for the French, there was little major immediate impact as British raids at sea and rebellions in key French slave colonies had dampened the demand for years.
In what would be a more important decision, the British was forced to leave a full squadron behind to protect the new British colony.
1761 - February
Fort Mobile, Fort Biloxi
The small French garrisons were unprepared for the assault of the Anglo-American forces pinchering them by land from captured New Orleans and by the Royal Navy at sea. Admiral Keppel had leaked rumors that the latest dispatch of British soldiers from Canada would be to conquer Martinique (adjacent to the recently captured Guadeloupe). Instead, the Royal Navy fleet would circle around to the handful of small fortifications along the remnant of coastal French Louisiana. Fort Mobile and Fort Biloxi centered small settlements augmented by understrength French garrisons. They would fall easily to the British and Americans.
1761 - March
Pensacola, Spanish Florida
The last significant Spanish settlement in America was Pensacola, which stretched the definition of "significant". A chronically poor and ignored region would languish for decades before the same Georgian conquerors of St. Augustine arrived in Pensacola.
For several weeks, the Pensacola defenders would hole up in their old fort. The exhausted Americans possessed no siege artillery and had not British support.
Finally an agreement was reached. The Americans would allow all Spanish to withdraw from Pensacola by ship under full honors of war. That included the large contingent of escaped slaves residing in the area. Much like St. Augustine, the Spanish had harbored large numbers of escapees from South Carolina. Most of the newly free Blacks from St. Augustine escaped to Indian tribes. The lightly populated Georgians were less interested in regaining South Carolina slaves and reached an agreement with the local tribes which would not demand their return.
By summer of 1761, the Americans blew up the Pensacola fortifications and other buildings and returned St. Augustine as they lacked the manpower to hold Pensacola long-term.
1761 - March
Though the British and Dutch Republic were not formally at war, that hadn't stopped the Dutch East India Company from intervening in Bengal and costing the British East India Company their most valuable conquest to date. William Pitt had dispatched a small squadron of Royal Navy ships the previous fall to India to aid the Company in regaining local superiority. Lacking the army to reinvade Bengal, Robert Clive, the CIC of the East India Company Army, would use the forces to invade the old Dutch stronghold on Java with an eye towards conquering the Spice Islands to the East for the BEIC.
1761 - April
Over the past six months, the French emissaries had failed to encourage any give in their British counterparts. Though losing Hanover had been embarrassing for the British government, in truth many were glad to see the King's other domain separated. And the string of conquests in the Americas and other parts of the world lent the impression of looming British domination at sea.
Pitt did not want the war to end.
Seeing more defeats than victories abroad, de Choiseul knew something must change and something dramatic indeed. For two years, he'd feinted at a potential invasion of Britain. Now, frustrated at the defeats and lack of hope to regain the initiative abroad against the foremost power at sea of the age, de Choiseul ordered the Admiralty to put into effect the plans created over the past two years. Plenty of soldiers were camped along the English Channel and large local stores of munitions and powder were available as well. Hundreds of transports were also sitting upon the northern French, French Netherlands and Dutch Republic shorelines. The problem, as always, was getting them to Britain.
De Choiseul had arranged a series of feints designed to fool the British into thinking that the Franco-Spanish fleet would soon be dispatched to India, West Africa, San Domingue, Gibraltar and Brazil. Instead, he had arranged for the Danish fleet to link with the "borrowed" Dutch fleet and board thousands of French soldiers. The bulk of the French and Spanish fleets would circle from the southern ports with and enter the English Channel from the west.
With luck, the British would find themselves too spread thin to maintain superiority in the channel long enough for the French and Spanish to cross.
1761 - May
Though many members of Parliament objected to the mere IDEA of colonial self-government, Pitt used the testimony of virtually every high-ranking British officer or Governor whom had the dubious privilege of dealing with the colonials.
They stated, without a single dissenting vote, that the colonials would battle every conceivable attempt to force them to pay taxes without a vote in Parliament...and maybe even then. Every commander-in-chief of North America, including those presdisposed towards the Americans, agreed that the only way to properly encourage colonial participation in the upcoming campaigns (both financially and materially) against the Spanish and French West Indies was to approve this limited Colonial Parliament suggested by Mr. Dickenson and Mr. Franklin of Pennsylvania.
So little direct taxation had ever been gleaned from America that there seemed little to lose. Meanwhile, the British campaigns in the West Indies could not possibly continue without tens of thousands of American volunteers...which would most certainly not be forthcoming without these reforms.
In truth, Pitt was happy to turn over local issues to a local governor. The Americans would handle their own customs, removing that duty from the Royal Navy. As the money would fund the central Parliament of America, the colonials would have less reason to resort to smuggling.
The Parliament would have limited powers though the American and British supposition would no doubt prove contradictory on exactly WHAT these powers were.
In the meantime, Pitt got back to the war. Rumor had it that the French were preparing to invade. Pitt laughed this off. They'd never get past the Channel fleet even with Spanish, Danish and Dutch support.
No, the posturing of the French at the Channel was merely that. Posturing. They were probably just hoping that the feint at the Channel would force the Royal Navy to keep too many resources close to home while the true French fleet was intended for the Americas or some such place.
Paris - May
The duc de Choiseul had hoped the final negotiations would come to some sort of reasonable peace which would return SOME, if not all, of the French possessions in the West Indies. He was resigned to losing Canada and was willing to withdraw from Portugal if the British would return most of the wealthy French sugar islands. He'd even been willing to give back Dominica to the British and pressure Spain to give back the Bahamas.
Britain could still come out ahead in this war...assuming they'd didn't count the King's loss of Hanover (most didn't) and the French command of the French Netherlands.
But no, Pitt utterly refused to compromise. Not a bit.
Thus de Choiseul ordered the Admirals and Generals to commit to the dangerous invasion by sea of southern Britain. He had no idea how this would go but knew that the French financial difficulties were reaching epidemic proportions. The war must end soon or de Choiseul would be forced to seek peace at any cost.
1761 - June
Under the guidance of Francois Thuret, the small French squadron sailed into Belfast. Poorly defended (the Irish Army was spread throughout the island to prevent resistance), Belfast fell surprisingly easily to only 2000 French troops and a half dozen French warships.
The shock of this invasion would rock the entire island and, within two days, word was known in Britain.
Details were vague but the government believed a greater invasion of Ireland was afoot. The threat of Catholic insurrection in Ireland was long-standing and rumors of Irish Catholics flocking to French colors abounded. Over a dozen warships left Spithead and Nore to regain local superiority in Ireland.
This played directly into the duc de Choiseul's hands. The duc and his government had dispatched many contradictory false plans throughout the capital as to the target of French aggression in 1761.
The truth was that de Choseul always intended southern Britain to be the target. Over the past two years, he'd ordered his men to drill disembarkation from the 300+ transports built over the past years until the entire contingent per ship could be discharged within 10 minutes. Additional long boats were build per ship for those French being delivered to more remote areas.
Both the Duke de Belle-Isle and Comte de Germain, whom de Choiseul had put in charge of the expedition, were skeptical and only agreed to partake if the duc changed his plans to leave the transports undefended beyond a few small, well-armed escorts. De Choiseul intended for the allied Navies to bottle up the British fleets in Nore and Spithead thus giving the transports an easy path to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
They also convinced the duc to allow them to handpick the Admirals in command. Specifically, they did not believe that Admiral Conflans was courageous or skilled enough to lead the expedition or react to the unexpected.
Le jour de debarquement (D-Jour as it was known in French history) was July 1st.
1761 - July
Northern ports of France
The bulk of the French and Spanish fleets had met along the Atlantic coast forming an armada of 32 ships-of-the-line and 10 frigates. The heavier ships would sail on towards Spithead and Nore, the preeminent British naval bases along the southern coast of England.
Naturally, the British were already getting wind of this and several frigates on patrol sped back north into the English Channel. The Easterly winds common to the Channel had been blowing for days and died down just in time for the British vessels to make better headway to warn the fleet to raise anchor.
However, the death of the easterlies also were the signal for the main French invasion fleet to sail. From the Dutch Republic ports, the Danish Navy would escort 10,000 French troops to Plymouth predominantly on Dutch transports.
From the French Netherlands, another 20,000 would sail under the protection of a small fleet of French frigates, sloops and other lighter (and more nimble) ships also bound for Portsmouth.
Finally, the third wave would depart from Le Havre to the Isle of Wight in the wake of the heavy French and Spanish warships.
In one great wave, the bulk of the effective French, Spanish and Danish fleets were gambled along with over 50,000 French soldiers.
As would be common with the British government, the Pitt-Newcastle coalition would fear putting too many men in uniform lest the King take advantage to overthrow Parliamentary rule and establish a European-style tyranny. Though it was the middle of the 18th century, this was still a common fear with the British people and political classes.
Thus the British Army would remain small until times of war and then...and ONLY then...be built up to keep the King from temptation. The problem was that it normally took at least two years to turn a raw recruit to a usable soldier.
It didn't help that the original British establishment (nominally at 45,000 but the effective strength was closer to 35,000) had taken the brunt of the war thus far. This included the loss of 12,000 regulars on the continent (whom remained in prison in Hanover), another 3000 dead by battle in the Americas as well as perhaps another 5000 dead of assorted disease (the West Indies in particular).
Further, the British Army was split across the globe. Over 10,000 sweltered in the West Indies, perhaps another 4000 on North America proper, 2500 in Gibraltar, 5000 in Ireland (sent to stiffen the Irish Establishment, 4000 in Brazil guarding against what was looking to be a non-existent threat from Spain, 2000 on the Channel Islands, 2000 hired (meaning their expenses to be repaid) by the British East India company on the Subcontinent, etc, etc, etc.
All of this meant that perhaps only 20,000 British regulars were actually on the island of Great Britain. Even this number was misleading as perhaps 5000 were listed as "Invalids" doing light guard duty or in the Chelsea Hospital or various charities. Of the rest, a disproportionate number were recruits still being drilled into some semblance of skill. They were also spread along the length of the island with many in various defensive fortifications from Cornwall to Fife, guarding important harbors and bases.
Thus, in the absurd event of a successful enemy landing, the actual number of capable soldiers on hand to repel an invasion were modest indeed.
Of course, there was always the yeomanry. The British militia numbered in the tens of thousands...but so rarely drilled and were so dismally organized that it seemed unlikely to be effective in battle. Worse, there were an abject lack of modern weapons available even if any significant number had previous occasion to fire a musket. The militia was made up of leading men whom were selected for their social standing and only those truly interested in their task (a rarity) would bother to call the militia to assembly after church on Sundays. If this happened once or twice a year, an occasion marked by heavy drinking than martial training, that was considered adequate.
the action is really heating up!
Sounds like england had good timing with approving of a continental congress for america
Spithead and the Nore
The combined 42 French and Spanish ships-of-the-line would descend upon Spithead and the Nore, the primary British naval bases in southern England with shockingly little resistance. While Britain had been warned of a POSSIBLE French invasion, the heavy winds of the previous week had forced the Fleet back into the naval bases. When the winds died down, the aging Admiral whom had been deskbound for the past 20 years was slow to order his fleet to sea. Only 10 ships even made it out of the harbors and estuaries prior to the arrival of the bulk of the Franco-Spanish fleet.
Under Orvilles, the allies’ main fleet possessed the bulk of the heaviest ships in the French and Spanish Navy. While both had undergone some reform in the past decade, there remained still a perception of inferiority to the Royal Navy.
The benefit of the alliance between French, Spanish and Danish nations against Britain ensured that the British strategy of blockading the entire enemy coastline was utterly impossible. With the Royal Navy spread out across the world, the enemy resources had hit a breaking point and the decision was made that Britain could not dispatch an entire squadron to blockade over a dozen major ports. Maintaining blockades exhausted seamen and wore out vessels while exposing the ships to the hazards of weather. Blockades worked when there were a limited number of objectives and the blockading nation had such superiority that they could rapidly replace and rotate ships.
The French and Spanish vessels descended upon the handful of British ships which managed to escape on the morning tide. Within hours, the ships were subdued or forced to flee through the gauntlet. The French and Spanish then opted for a unique plan. Rather than sail into the naval bases and absorb punishment from both the fleet and shoreline defenses, Orvilles chose to chain several of his heaviest ships together into a line showing their broadsides to the Royal Navy as they emerged one at a time. Behind this line was another line of chained ships, then a third.
In the meantime, the lighter frigates and other class of vessels would sail to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight to disgorge their human cargoes onto shore.
This was the first successful landing of enemy troops since the last time a French conqueror arrived: William the Bastard in 1066.
Meanwhile, the Danish fleet which sailed predominantly from the Dutch ports would arrive as well, though with more trouble than the French and Spanish. The British were not completely unprepared as large number of patrols scoured the English Channel. However, as naval vessels could not remain at sea for long periods without a loss of efficiency and impacting the health of the crew, these patrols tended to be lighter and faster than the larger ships in harbor.
By a stroke of luck, once such vessel had been lured towards the French fleet and captured before it could give warning. Another sighted the Danish fleet on the move and summoned several other patrol ships east to confront the invaders (whom the British still assumed must be bound for Ireland). The larger Danish ships managed to fight them off, but then another convoy of six British warships escorting trading vessels from the northeast happened to be sailing through the Channel at the same time and blundered directly into the Danes. The British commander would ordered the merchant ships back while plunging into the large Danish fleet escorting the French soldiers. Still outgunning this enemy, the heavy Danish ships would successfully see off challenge as well.
This, however, cost two days and the Danes and their charges (a dozen transports and supply ships would return to the Netherlands in the confusion) would lumber into the beachheads established by the French.
At Spithead and the Nore, the British commanders would realize that a direct attack upon French and Spanish ships chained together, their broadsides aimed for the narrow estuaries was not the ideal battle tactic. But word of the successful landing had already reached the headquarters and the Admiralty did not need to wait for an admonishment from the King to break out.
While the Royal Navy preferred battles of maneuver to utilize their superior seamanship, that did not mean they were not also well-versed in gunnery. Brave ships would take several broadside volleys from the French and Spanish before they successful navigated the tight confines of the harbors and estuaries so they could trade blows. Little by little, at great cost to themselves, the Royal Navy ships would batter or set aflame the enemy ships. The first line of four ships outside of Spithead were broken after 11 hours of furious battle on day 2 of the invasion. The lead British ships, battered themselves, retreated and allowed the next wave to assault the next French and Spanish line.
As it was impossible to cut off the entire escape routes from the naval bases, some of the lighter Royal Navy ships were able to sneak through shallow channels which hindered the lumbering first and second-rate behemoths. However, Orvilles had anticipated this and left a small squadron of French frigates with the assignment of immediately engaging any lighter British vessel which escaped.
It would be day four before the 2nd line of French and Spanish chained ships were defeated (again at great cost to the British whom were not fighting the battle they wanted).
The third line was far enough out to sea that it proved impossible to maintain a linked blockade and the Franco-Spanish commander would order “General Melee”. He determined that allowing his ships to fight one on one would possess better odds of victory in this war of attrition than a mass war of maneuver in which the British would likely hold and even greater advantage.
More importantly, this would consume additional time. Even allowing for a general British victory, it would scatter and confuse the Royal Navy fleet long enough for the insertion of the French army to the island to be completed.
Historians would point to two critical losses to the British before this battle ever began would lead to this atypically dismal performance:
Admiral Hawke, perhaps the best sailor in the fleet, had been the one dispatched with a dozen vessels to cut off the French incursion into Belfast.
Admiral Jervis, whom had served so well in the West Indies, had died of a fever in the months after the seizure of Guadeloupe.
These men represented the best of the Royal Navy commanders and their loss severely reduced efficiency.
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