America - Albion's Orphan - A history of the conquest of Britain - 1760

Hahaha, did we just see the crème de la crème of the world’s navies get sunk on a diplomatic tour? Heads are going to roll in the foreign office.

This timeline is the gift that keeps on giving.
 
Chapter 356
1883 - October

Batavia


Sanjay de Godoy was the mixed race scion of Manuel de Godoy, whose line had been serving as Directors of the East India Company for the better part of a century. A somewhat eclectic mix of Marathi, Punjabi Sikh, Spanish, Portuguese and even a bit of Persian from a Parsi ancestor (de Godoy would actually follow the Zoroastrian faith), de Godoy had climbed the company hierarchy and managed to achieve a prime position in command of Batavia province on Java where he comfortably housed his wife and four teenage Javan mistresses.

For nearly ten years, de Godoy held this position and generally saw good economic times. There were relatively few internal rebellions in the East Indies as the Company was not inclined to tax the subsistence farmers to any great degree and certainly no one attempted any form of conversion of the locals. There were, of course, foreign soldiers hired to maintain control, mostly Indian, African, European, etc, who actively supported the administration.

Up to the start of the war, the Governor had things comfortably under his control. Even AFTER the war commenced, trade remained generally good between the East Indies and the west as the EIC's ships travelling west were seldom harassed by Chinese navy vessels. Yes, the loss of the Chinese trade hurt Batavia a great deal but it was hoped this would be a short term situation. At least the spice, rubber, palm oil and other exports continued without significant interruption.

However, the August eruption of Krakatoa (the EIC had sent observers to the region who reported that the island had largely disappeared and enough underwater volcanism was readily apparent that the party dared not attempt to alight the smoldering remnant of Krakatoa. The nearby island of Sebesi appeared at a distance to be intact....but everyone on the island was dead.

Governor de Godoy would personally witness the landing of a house-sized boulder impacted near the Batavia shoreline which had been thrown nearly 40 miles. Uncountable smoldering pumice stones landed in the region but, fortunately, the humid climate prevented many large-scale fires.

Reports of tidal waves wiping out small villages were received. Several dozen EIC ships had been sunk or damaged (or had just disappeared). Many neutral ships arrived in Batavia seeking repairs. It was obvious that a disaster had struck and de Godoy did not know what to do about the matter. Fortunately, the EIC Directors resident in Batavia would immediately consult with their ally, the Peshwa, and "recommend" that some sort of armistice may be made with the Chinese.

In truth, the Peshwa was rethinking this war. The attempt to expand his power into Siam and Malaya had largely failed. The costs of the conflict were growing higher and higher with limited expectation of ultimate victory. Discussions would take placed via intermediaries but the immediate Chinese response was to demand full Maratha from Southeast Asia, including from the lands of the Peshwa's allies in Burma and Malaya. This was unacceptable and the war would go on though it had largely stabilized everywhere except the Malayan Peninsula were war continued to rage. Both China and the Marathas would plug more and more men into the festering hellhole of Malaya.

However, both China and the Maratha Empire proved somewhat gun-shy about pitting their fleets against one another after the astonishing events at Krakatoa.

Manhattan

Like New Haven, Brooklyn, Trenton and other eastern cities, the previous weeks saw repeated bells of the fire brigades rushing west towards the massive flames on the horizon. The obvious conflagrations always seemed just over the next hill, just over the horizon. However, one by one, the fire brigades realized that the smoggy orange sunsets in fact were NOT caused by local fires.

No one in living memory had seen such apparitions and it was easy to assume the reddish haze bore the remnants of entire towns and forests gone up in flames. Frustrated, and often embarrassed, the firemen would return to their homes uncertain of the cause of the grim visage.

While a few scientists would immediately propose volcanic activity in September, it would not be until word arrived of the tragic loss of the "White Fleet" amid a volcanic eruption that, by Christmas, the haze (and uncommonly cold fall) would be blamed upon ash blocking the sun (and leaving a ring of particulates in the sky which made the sun look as if it had sprouted a "halo").

While these short-term panics were eventually overcome, the loss of most of the best ships in the fleet could not. Granted, Russia, France and even the Dutch Republic had lost their own modern vessels, the fact was that Americans were not accustomed to losing so many men at one time. Indeed, it was not since the Spanish War two generations past that so many American servicemen lost their lives.

While Parliament would immediately agree to the Admiralty's demand for additional vessels beyond the current budgets, some felt America had not been so vulnerable in years.
 
Chapter 357
1884

Manhattan


With a great deal of solemnity, King Alfred of British North America dedicated the "Frederick" Monument to his great grand-father, the first King of British North America, in the middle of "Frederick Park". Though hardly a dynamic figure, the late King was still revered for his contribution to maintaining the monarchy in America after the vile coup of the usurper William III of Great Britain (later just Wessex).

Though Alfred thought the monument somewhat derivative of the old monoliths one found in Rome and Egypt, he expected the tall, featureless monument would stand the test of time.

It would turn out that he was wrong as the monument would collapse in a strong wind just four years later much to the architect's mortification.

Bedloe's island and Ellis Island, New York Harbor


After years of debate (some Parliamentarians recommended putting some sort of monument on these islands or at least defensive fortifications), the decision was made that an inspection station for the hundreds of thousands of migrants entering the nation would be paced upon Ellis Island. Those found to be carrying contagious diseases would be housed on Bedloe's Island nearby until they were deemed to be healthy or arrangements could be made to return them to their nation of origin.

Paulgrad

Sam Clemons would publish a great novel in Paulgrad (both in Russian and English) of a young Russian boy who escaped from his boring life and travelled north to the goldfields of Alyeska. It would gain worldwide fame and expand his reputation as a wit.

Khartoum

After years of defacto siege, the final Egyptian presence in the northern Sudan was all but wiped out in a terrible conflagration of Mahdist fanatics. Tens of thousands of Egyptian residents were massacred.

Already, one Egyptian Army was swallowed by the Sudanese Muslims who had taken their religious leader as the new "Redeemer". Now known only as the "Mahdi", he would proclaim all Muslims who failed to support the austere lifestyle of the nomadic peoples (oddly, the Mahdi himself was not a nomad by origin) common to East Africa and, of course, Arabia, as heretics. He then promised to overrun Egypt, Mecca, Mesopotamia, the Ottoman, Syria....and any Muslim nation which dared stand in his path.

In 1884, over seventy-five thousand "Mahdist" warriors drawn from the tribes of the Sudan commenced riding north towards Egypt.

Paris

Foreign Secretary Benjamin D'Israeli knew he was on thin ice with First Lord John Abbott, much of the Ministry and, of course, King Alfred. However, the aggressive American was determined to put the tragic ill-luck of the previous year and somehow gain advantage for his nation in the simmering war in Southeast Asia.

The loss of five good ships, each were at least in the ten most powerful in the American fleet, could not be denied. But France, Russia, the Dutch Republic and, it appeared, even the East India Company, the Maratha Empire and the Chinese Empire lost ships as well in the freakish timing which led to an international "Good Will Tour" blundering directly into an erupting volcano.

As the chief supporter of this ill-fated incident in Manhattan, D'Israeli nearly was obliged to resign but neither the King nor the First Lord of the Treasury were inclined to opine that the loss of the ships were directly his fault. But the stigma would stay with D'Israeli and he knew he must do something to regain his good name in order to survive the coming election cycle. Rumor had it that, even if Abbott was retained as First Lord, that the man was tired of D'Israeli and would call for his replacement.

Thus D'Israeli moved quickly to the only ally he could think of: the French. Rumor had it that the French were increasingly interested in Southeast Asia, perhaps to the point of desiring to conquer the whole of the East India Company possessions in the East Indies. This was naturally a very ambitious and unlikely scenario as things stood but perhaps not out of the question. D'Israeli was willing to support this provided America could be...compensated.

America and France had been at odds over the horde of Pacific Islands which France had previously emptied over the past century to man their sugar plantations in Bourbonia. Only a few had any significant population left after "recruiting" and disease. After a few initial attempts to exploit them without much in the way of native labor, mostly logging, the French had effectively abandoned the region except for a few remote Naval Bases.

France needed support against the EIC should an incident bring France and the Company to war. Only America was likely to provide this in any depth as China rarely bothered allying with heathens and the Dutch....well, it had been a while since the Dutch really mattered.

Armed with an alliance within the Ministry of Raphael Semmes, the First Lord of the Admiralty, D'Israeli would swiftly act and reinforce the southern Pacific with American forces. In 1884, he would travel on his own "Goodwill Visit" to Paris to discuss the situation in Southeast Asia with his counterpart, a similarly ambitious and aggressive man.

In the meantime, a series of events in the Indian Ocean would bring France and the EIC (and THEIR ally the Marathas) to the bring of war.
 
I'm curious as to why the US even wants the pacific islands in the first place? They hardly seem worth the effort, particularly for an Atlantic oriented America--not to mention the spanner they throw into an otherwise good relationship with France. It seems to me that the KoNA would be better served by courting the french as allies against the Spanish. The Pacific islands are worthless, but Cuba and the Philippines certainly aren't.

...But if they are dead set on getting ahold of the pacific islands, and supporting the French claims on the EIs is the only way, they should at the very least try to get something else out of it; maybe securing the demilitarization of the remaining french islands in the WIs, or a free hand in Japan, if they're beginning to feel adventurous.
 
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I'm curious as to why the US even wants the pacific islands in the first place? They hardly seem worth the effort, particularly for an Atlantic oriented America--not to mention the spanner they throw into an otherwise good relationship with France. It seems to me that the KoNA would be better served by courting the french as allies against the Spanish. The Pacific islands are worthless, but Cuba and the Philippines certainly aren't.

...But if they are dead set on getting ahold of the pacific islands, and supporting the French claims on the EIs is the only way, they should at the very least try to get something else out of it; maybe securing the demilitarization of the remaining french islands in the WIs, or a free hand in Japan, if they're beginning to feel adventurous.
I would say this is more a matter of one man or a small number of people desiring the trappings of Empire, no matter how useless. I think I had some blurbs in past chapters that few to none of these islands were particularly useful as naval bases or even worth the inevitable costs of administering.

I've felt the "Scramble for Empire" among European nations in the second half of the 19th century was driven far more by ego and nationalism than any concrete economic reason. Did Germany really need to add Togo, Samoa or Cameroon to make them a great nation?

I'm pretty sure that they cost more to administer than anything else. That would be true of most colonial possessions over the centuries (Quebec, New Granada, the Sudan, Burma, New Caledonia, etc). What did these add to the metropolis?

But this was the fashion at the time.

Many of my TL's avoid this unseemly Empire-building but I have Benjamin D'Israeli attempting some sort of OTL Scramble mentality.
 
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I've felt the "Scramble for Empire" among European nations in the second half of the 19th century was driven far more by ego and nationalism than any concrete economic reason. Did Germany really need to add Togo, Samoa or Cameroon to make them a great nation?
World Politics always was about who can cheat the most in a dick measuring contest, pardon my French.

You've mentioned that France is interested in land in South East Asia with both the Russian Empire and the KoNA wanting to fight the EIC for some reasons.

Is there any push for carving out spheres of influence around and within China or is China strong enough to resist Euro-American advances?
 
Chapter 358
1885

Detroit


Emil Jellinek was born in Austria thirty-two years prior. The son of a Rabbi, Jellinek would show little interest in formal schooling and eventually his exasperated parents would arrange a clerk position in a local railroad. However, within a few years, the young man would be fired for organizing late night locomotive races. Eventually, the young man would enter the sales world and travel to Oran in the Berber Kingdom. Here he would meet his future wife and join his future in-law's firm exporting Berber tobacco to Europe.

Bored with the business within a few years, Jellinek would eventually move his family to Detroit, Michigan in British North America where the copper and iron boom in the Dominion of Marquette was proving to have a greater impact on the American economy than any of the gold or silver rushes of the west (and more sustained). Detroit, at the confluence of two of the Great Lakes, would be the primary export region for the mineral wealth of the region.

Detroit bore a highly diverse group of citizens ranging from "British", Irish, German (many of those both Protestant and Catholic), French, Poles (one of the first great Polish destinations), Scandinavians, Mestizos, Africans, Albanians, Greeks, Lebanese and many, many others including a not insignificant community of Jews. While Jellinek was hardly the most observant Jew, he immediately gravitated to the community for support even more than his co-linguist Germans. Indeed, Detroit bore more Jews than any city northern city but Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

In his early years in Detroit, the Austrian form a company with friends to export copper (of which 90% of America's supply was mined in Marquette) to Europe, North Africa and the Near East. His many connections made him a good business partner. However, Jellinek was soon bored with the trade and went looking for something more interesting. As it so happened, many of the great engineering advances were being made in the German Confederation. Schools seemed to churn out brilliant engineers, draftsmen, mechanics, etc in the German lands but jobs seemed to be scarce. With a nearby supply of metals, coal, transport (the Great Lakes), etc, Detroit and its environs were perfectly positioned geographically for the mechanization of future decades and the arrival of a technically competent class and large numbers of unskilled laborers would swiftly propel the city from an unremarkable backwoods dominion capital to an industrial powerhouse.

Aided by funds from his friend and mentor, the sixty-eight year old Hiram Walker, himself a successful whisky distiller in Detroit, Walker was able to buy controlling interests with his friends in several ventures including an insurance business which would, by his mid-thirties, make him a very wealthy man and among the social elite of Detroit. This allowed the Austrian to involve himself in new trends. While touring a new Edison Illuminating facility powering the city grid, Jellinek would witness one of the steam engine technicians entering the facility on what can only be described as some sort of rickety, steam-powered, four-tired bicycle.

Immediately Jellinek inquired of the contraption and the proud young man stated he had built it himself in his personal workshop from surplus parts. Impressed, the Austrian immediately determined to investigate the idea. Motored tricycles had been common on the streets but four-wheeled vehicles....well, ones that WORKED well enough to carry a man through muddy streets to work, remained rare. Jellinek had heard of races being put on in Manhattan and Boston. Perhaps Detroit may have their own?

He thanked the young man, who bore the forgettable name of Henry Ford, and immediately set about forming his own mechanics shop to build better, stronger...and most importantly, FASTER....motorized vehicles. Indeed, he would demand that his employees produce one within a year worthy of travelling east to face the best of the nation. He would later send a messenger to offer that Ford lad a job but the messenger, who barely spoke English, only stated that the man had no interest in working for a Jew who was financed by a booze-monger like Walker. This was a bit of a shock. Jews were hardly universally popular but work was work.

In the end, Jellinek put the young man out of his mind and proceeded with his new hobby. Soon, half a dozen skilled mechanics were producing vehicles every year and "Jellinek Motorsports" would become famous in the "horse-less carriage" racing industry. While insurance and metal exports remained his primary business, Jellinek would also grow his interests in the machined parts business.

Eventually, Jellinek would learn that the uncouth Ford would take a position in Thomas Edison's unique "inventions lab" in downtown Detroit. Jellinek would shrug, assuming he would never hear the name again.

Madrid

On a year over year basis, the decentralization of political power was hardly notable but, taken in the context of nearly a century, the difference could not be ignored. "Home Rule" had been granted to virtually all Spanish colonies of sufficient size. Indeed, even the governance of some petty islands in the West Indies like the Virgin Islands, St. Christos (St. Kitts) and others were foisted upon the new Vice-Royalty of Puerto Rico just to get the out of the Spanish Colonial Minister's hair.

But, by 1881, Carlos VI had suffered several minor strokes and was clearly incapable of continuing as an effective monarch. His eldest surviving son Miguel effectively took over most regal duties. Perhaps the most intelligent, hard-working and ambitious Spanish Royal in centuries, Prince Miguel had been raised by his father to accept that the old ways of colonial domination over the colonies was long since dead. Miguel agreed that any attempt to force the issue of "Home Rule" on the colonies was utterly doomed to fail.

Perhaps more importantly, the Prince realized that the Empire was more important than Spain itself. The colonies generated far more in taxes (even if spent locally) than Spain, bore a much larger population and, despite ardent efforts at modernization, Spain remained behind not only other European nations but behind SOME OF HER OWN COLONIES in manufacturing.

For the first time, a Spanish Royal began to see the Metropolis as but a figurehead of a greater nation across the sea. Thus the Prince set about to reinforce the cultural/economic/political ties between the entire Empire, not just of colony to Spain.

Being delegated great power from his father, the Prince personally (economics was a hobby of his) would bring to an end the centuries old banking system which had repeatedly failed the Empire and form a new version based upon a new premise: an IMPERIAL one. Instead of mere subsidieries of the main bank in Spain, the new bank would truly be international in character. Subsidieries were placed in all the major Vice-Royalties, a longtime demand of the colonials.

Similarly, a line was drawn between "Spanish" taxes and responsibilities, "Vice-royalty" taxes and responsibilities and joint "Imperial" taxes and responsibilities. As part of the most recent cessation of power, the Crown organized a new Parliament, one which was dedicated to joint concerns like defense, common external trade laws, internal trade law, oversight of the Imperial bank, etc. This was a radical move to Spanish eyes. It had long been viewed that such matters were controlled by the motherland. Instead, the King's Imperial Parliamentary "Advisors" would be formed by representatives selected from throughout the Empire. While local matters were dealt with by the regional governments, the "Imperial" matters....and some of the taxes....were controlled by this new body.

Prince Miguel would also take the near unprecedented step of visiting all of the major colonial regions on what would become viewed as a hugely successful "goodwill" tour. He listened to local concerns, granted honors (on his father's behalf) and generally aligned himself with those reforms popular in the colonies. As Spain no longer had the power to maintain her Empire by force (and probably hadn't possessed this for over a century), it would be the loyalty of the people which would sustain the Empire.

Miguel would look towards the democracies like America, the assorted British Kingdoms, Ireland and to an extent even France, and note that the monarchy in these regions, where power had long been devolving from the Crown to the people, were more popular than in the more autocratic regimes like Russia, China, the Maratha Empire or even oligarchies where an elite pulled the strings like the Habsburg domains, Brandenburg or Spain itself. It had long been held as axiomatic that a monarch was propped up by elites be they a few favorites or even a Parliament or Diet which only answered to a tiny fraction of the population. These people were believed more likely to uphold the throne as a symbol of social order (and status).

However, Miguel would see the resentment building in Spain and other nations by the people against the Oligarchy for their corruption and, reasonably, against the monarchs themselves. However, in nations where the King's held titular power, any public resentment was against the Parliamentarians THEY elected, not the King who did not set policy. Thus Miguel would see, somewhat paradoxically, that the survival of the Spanish Empire and even the Spanish House of Bourbon Monarchy as dependent upon EXPANSION of the franchise, not its withholding.

Carlos VI was a wise man in his own way but was unable to see beyond simply accepting what the people of Spain and the colonies wanted. Miguel was determined to stay ahead of the cultural transformations.

What Miguel DID NOT believe was that this new fact of life must by necessity result in the stagnation of an Empire. He believed that common farmers, merchants and laborers were inclined to be as assertive and proud of their Empire as the elites which increasingly found themselves marginalized on a seemingly inexorable tide of reform. Democracies could, as the Americans proved, be no less aggressive than dictatorships, something which few of Miguel's era seemed to comprehend.

Did not the average American celebrate the expansion of America west (largely at Spanish expense but the past was the past) as much as the gentry?

Is it unreasonable to suppose that the Russian peasant would happily support domination of the Near East, political control of the Balkans and the effective cleansing of the Turkic peoples from Central Asia as much as the highest Russian Duke?

No, in what many philosophers, political theorists and intellectuals would never fully understand, Miguel knew implicitly.

People were the same all over.

Thus the long American tour would see the Prince espouse radical ideas which had long seen common people put in prison. Again, using his aging father's words as a mouthpiece, the Prince would openly speak of expanding the franchise and publicly ordered the Viceroy's to press their regional Parliaments to follow suit. Some would be appalled, many astounded....but many others came away elated that the Prince was "their man" and, while many of these reforms were technically not under the purview of the Crown, they would nevertheless seen swift action in several Viceroyalties (Miguel was wise enough never to use the term "colony" as was common in Spain) while certain others would see their election officials balk. But the support of the crown lent great impetus to the movement and it became almost accepted that massive changes were inevitable in ALL of the Americas.

When the Infante returned to Madrid, he was ushered into his father's presence and informed by the King (who was exhausted after months of doing his own job and feeling fortunate not to have had another stroke) that Carlos intended to abdicate the following month in favor of his son. Miguel respected and loved his father but this could not conceal his eagerness to reform the Empire in the manner he desired.

Indeed, the new King would even begin to consider EXPANDING it.
 
Chapter 359
1885

Upper Egypt


Khedive Hussain was not, by nature, a decisive man. His immediate predecessor (his grandfather) was prudent enough to retreat from HIS predecessor's (his brother) policy of expansionism and Sunni supremacy as it had run Egypt afoul with most of their neighbors and shattered the Egyptian economy. Eventually, the worst of the tensions were reduced and trade resumed with the Mediterranean region always demanding Egyptian products like cotton, wheat, dates and some manufactured goods. The construction of the Suez Canal along the Egyptian border (the other side of the Sinai belonging to Palestine) brought in annual revenues without Egypt having to spend funds it didn't have (Egypt and Palestine provided the land while Russia and France provided the Capital).

The Canal had largely changed the Egyptian outlook to the world and, more importantly, the way the rest of the world looked at Egypt. While yes, Egypt WAS largely a waystation now, it was at least a waystation that the entire world utilized. That gave the nation a status it had not possessed in centuries. Now under the control of a native dynasty after thousands of years of foreign rule dating back to Alexander the Great, Egypt was at the forefront of the Muslim world.

The impressive modernization of Egypt had led to a degree of optimism which allowed the nation to expand southwards into the northern Sudan a generation prior claiming land which had not really been under Egyptian rule since the Pharoahs (and very often not even by THEM). However, a new religious movement led by a fanatic calling himself the "Mahdi" (Redeemer) would rise up in revolt, killing at least 50,000 Egyptians in Khartoum alone. Two attempts by the Egyptian Army to reassert control or at least rescue the Egyptian civilians would lead to disastrous defeats and the slaughter of much of each army.

The Khedive, seeing little revenues from the region and no one left to rescue, was by this point prepared to call it quits on the whole idea of Egyptian control over northern Sudan. However, the "Mahdi" had other thoughts and, against any logical expectation, actually rode northwards to attack Egypt!

By 1885, it was held as axiomatic that modern weaponry made the fierce cavalry warriors and conquerors of the past like the Mongols, Parthians, Turkics, Huns and Arabs effectively obsolete. The defeats to the Mahdi in the Sudan were viewed as exceptions as the Sudanese tribesmen each time cut off a slow moving army in the remote desert and cut them to pieces. This was considered a matter of Egyptian military incompetence combined by unique conditions unlikely to often be matched in the modern world.

However, the tribesmen travelled hundreds of miles through the deserts, along the Nile with little to no opposition. At least 75,000 warriors accompanied the Mahdi along with 25,000 to 50,000 camp followers (women, servants, etc). The Khedive had never considered that the nomads would leave the desert and had no plan in place to repulse them. The two armies which had been destroyed in the desert carried most of the best trained, best armed and best led of the modest standing Egyptian Army.

The Mahdi initially kept his forces in check, chiding them to treat civilians as civilians. He reminded them that these were Sunnis who failed to heed his word due to their ignorance, not their innate evil. Eventually, however, several fortified towns managed to resist long enough to bring the Mahdi to a rage and slow the entire advance. More importantly, high-ranking Egyptian officials leading the defense would alternately mock or condemn the Mahdi as a heretic, apostate, infidel and whatever else they could think of.

This led to the Mahdi commanding his forces to slaughter anyone who opposed them and eventually to anyone who refused to acknowledge his status as Redeemer of the Muslim people. This was rare. Most Muslim agree that there would be no further Prophets per Muhammad's word and reacted to the Mahdi's claim as Christians would if confronted by a man claiming to be the reincarnation of Jesus. Further, the cultural differences between the sedentary Egyptians with 5000 years of civilization and the black nomads of the south ensured that few Egyptians were inclined to think of the Mahdi as anything but a barbarian and a fanatic.

Swiftly, the procession slowed as the Sudanese cavalry proved ill-equiped to seize walled fortifications or towns. Most successful attempts resulted in the slaughter of entire towns, something which the Mahdi had not conceived. After weeks and then months of this slaughter in Upper Egypt, the Mahdi finally reigned in his forces and commanded them to listen.

He reminded them that his intent was never to fight for every pitiful village. He wanted to seize control over the (what he viewed as) APOSTATES of Cairo, Alexandria, Istanbul, Medina and Mecca. Once in command of these cities, he planned to force the Muslim world to accept God's will. Then he would deal with the Christians, Animists, Buddhists, Hindus...and anyone else who dared defy the word of God.

But first he opted to concentrate on "reforming" the Islamic world and that could only be done in Mecca and Medina. Therefore, the Mahdi ordered the bulk of his forces north towards Lower Egypt. In weeks, he was before the gates of Cairo (again with little opposition). Seeing the walls and hastily thrown up barricades, the Mahdi knew that it would take months or years to take the city and he assumed the other large Egyptian cities would be the same. Instead, he surprised the defenders and opted to travel northeast, towards the Sinai and the gateway to Arabia.

Leaving behind only a small portion of his force to protect his supply lines (most of these men would just spend the time looting in defiance of the austere leader's wishes), the Mahdi would race towards the Suez Canal. While the Sudanese leader had hoped to reach Mecca and Medina by sea from some Egyptian port, his scouts provided intelligence that this was impractical as the Egyptian Red Sea towns were small and lacked the necessary shipping to carry huge numbers of warriors across the Sea. Besides, many of his desert and mountain nomads held no desire to make a sea voyage and the Mahdi accepted he'd have to cross the Canal and then the Sinai to reach Arabia.

What the Mahdi was NOT prepared for was the presence of a large army before the Canal. Here he found nearly 3500 Egyptian soldiers augmented by 8000 Russian troops, mostly drawn from the Levant, with another 10,000 Muslim (mostly the descendants of Balkan Muslims now the dominant Muslim group in Palestine), Christian and Jewish soldiers drawn from the Levant's armies. Beyond that, 2500 French soldiers had been dispatched to protect the Canal.

The Suez was deemed too important to allow some nomad fanatic to disrupt trade and the Mahdist Army's diversions in Upper Egypt had given Egypt's "partners" time to prepare a defense.

To the shock of virtually everyone, as the Mahdist Army slowly assembled to face the entrench Euro-Asiatic Army, another group of 3000 soldiers arrived from...of all places....the OTTOMAN Empire. Over the past generation, the Sublime Porte had realized that the seemingly inexorable litany of defeats of the past 200 years were a result of their failure to modernize. Thus the Ottoman had given up their former aspirations of Empire over the Levant and Europe and instead opted to economically and socially reform. Instead of an adversarial relationship with Russia and the Near East Lands which they once dominated, these places soon became key trading partners as Anatolia's resources and central location would give the Ottoman a key advantage over competitors in key industries. Indeed, the Ottoman would prove a source of stability rather than a threat to the region in recent years and relations with Russia improved correspondingly.

While the Porte was less than worried about some black tribesmen riding up through the Levant to conquer the Ottoman (as the Mahdi promised), he realized that a show of unity both with Russia and his fellow Muslims of the Levant may diplomatically go a long way. Thus the Porte sent 3000 of his best men (armed with the latest weapons from France) to the Sinai with an offer to help. No one had been expecting them but were hardly inclined to turn them away.

Thus nearly 30,000 well-armed men were prepared to defend the Sinai even as the Khedive hastily threw together an army of 30,000 moderately well-armed and supplied men and dispatched them eastwards.

The Mahdi's army consisted almost entirely of horsemen, perhaps among the best in the world, but limited in their function. They'd failed to take even modest walled fortifications due to lack of artillery or organization. In truth, the Mahdi was worried that the "Western Army" as he dismissed the mixed force, would simply retreat beyond the Canal and dig in upon the opposite shore. He did not see how he could possibly cross given the limited number of drawbridges over the canal and no experience with "water landings". Indeed, the Mahdi was elated to find the allied army apparently content to engage him in battle on the west side of the Canal. At least here he could initiate battle and, after countless defeats of the Egyptian Army, would feel more than confident that Allah would be on his side as he had so many times before.

Their backs to the sea, the allied army dug in, formed trenches and pits and prepared for battle. Lacking any other real strategy, the Mahdi would order his massed cavalry forward, assured that they would crush their outnumbered enemies as they always had.

However, this was not the haphazard armies dispatched by Egypt to the Sudan. These were well-trained and equipped forces with weeks to dig in. At sight of the Mahdists, the artillery opened up, cutting large swathes in the Sudanese lines. But soon the cavalry raced through this only to be confronted by rifle-fire at a distance previous armies would have marveled at. At five hundred yards, canister and rifle fire tore through the attackers....but still they rode on.

At one hundred yards, the artillery switched from explosive to cannister. The long-distance rifles were joined by repeating rifles. And it was here than the Mahdists learned of something called "Maxims" and "Gatlings", dozens of them. The Maxim was only a few years old and the brainchild of an English-American inventor. He found swift backing by industrialists in Philadelphia and the Russians would order 100 of them as an experiment in the Levant. Firing over 600 rounds a minute (when they didn't jam), the guns were devastating at short range.

The initial Mahdist wave effectively disappeared and the second wave, still unsure what happened to their predecessors, were subsequently cut to pieces as well. The Mahdi, positioned the rear, called upon God for help and commanded two more charges against the 5 mile line....with the same results. While exact numbers were difficult to measure, it was estimated that nearly 15,000 Sudanese were killed or wounded in these attacks.

Only now did the religious fervor of the Sudanese balk enough for them to doubt the Mahdi's reasoning. Seeing this for the first time, the Mahdi informed the horsemen that HE would be leading the next charge and any man who refused to follow would face no wrath. He then rode east towards the enemy lines.

Most of the Sudanese opted to follow....with the same results. Dozens of the Mahdi's closest followers refused to leave his side as they charged forth with rifles (not the most accurate cavalry weapon), pistols, swords and lances.

The results did not vary from previous attacks. As if by miracle, the Mahdi not only survived but he and his mount, along among his companions, were unscathed. Weeping in frustration, the Mahdi repeated rode before the enemy lines seeking an entrance. Finally, a young warrior grabbed his reins and led the Mahdi westwards.

The battle was over. And nearly 20,000 Sudanese had lost their lives or suffered the ignominy of capture. Tens of thousands of valuable horse (and camels) had been lost as well, nearly as devastating for a nomadic people. By evening, even the Mahdi knew that the battle was lost....disastrously so.

He had no choice but to retreat. In the coming week, the Mahdists faced another army, the Egyptian forces finally gathered and ready to face the Sudanese. North of Cairo, the two armies clashed, thousands of casualties suffered on both sides...but no decisive result. Unlike the poorly led Egyptian armies swallowed in the desert, the Egyptians were defending THEIR homes and honor and had the advantage of a good supply situation. The modern technology would win out again and the Sudanese would be forced to retreat further south.

By this point the entirety of Egypt had been roused against the invaders and partisans sniped at the Mahdists from every hill and rooftop. Sudanese reprisals were often swift and brutal....but the retreat only expedited.

By the winter (a relative concept in Egypt), the Sudanese had evacuated core Egyptian territory having lost nearly 40% of the warriors and camp followers which had triumphantly entered Egypt.

It was at this point that the Mahdi learned that his two eldest sons, left in command of the Northern Sudan, had ventured south into the Southern Sudan, largely by 1885 a colony of Ethiopia and swiftly converting to the Ethiopian Coptic Church. Finding relatively few southern Sudanese inclined to convert to Mahdism, they reacted with brutality, provoking an Ethiopian response. Armed and advised by their "neighbors" the East India Company to the south and led by their aging General George McClellan, the small Mahdist forces was crushed by 40,000 Ethiopian cavalry and infantry in the Southern Sudan, forcing the survivors northwards. Both of the Mahdi's sons were killed.

The Mahdi, seeing no pursuit into the Northern Sudan by either the Egyptians or Ethiopians, would ordered his followers home with the promise that he would pray to Allah for guidance. Sullenly, his followers obeyed, many rethinking the Mahdi's credibility as "Redeemer". Over the next few years, violence was largely constrained to the Northern Sudan as the "Mahdist" loyalists would severely punish these backsliders in a brutal Civil War.

By 1887, it would be apparent that the Mahdist State was content to remain within their borders.

However, there WAS one particular repercussion to the Mahdist invasion of Egypt. The Arabs of the Levant (mainly Palestine) would hear the words of the Mahdi and a great many would see the sufferings of the past generations as their failure to heed the word of Allah. As waves of immigrants poured into the region including Balkan Muslims expelled from their homelands, Egyptian Sufis, Shia and Copts, Russians, Jews, Protestant and Catholic Europeans, etc until the Arabs were but a petty and poor minority in their own homeland, would actively seek some way or hope to resolve this issue and many would quietly turn to the Mahdi's words for comfort.

The Sudanese nomads had much in common with the Arabs (at least the image the Arabs had of themselves as tribal nomads despite most actually being quite settled for centuries or even millennia). The Mahdist concept of austerity and modesty complemented this self-image as did the idea of Muslims rising up against their oppressors (even other Muslim). Thus many of the Arab tribes increasingly pushed aside from both Palestine and Syria would flock to this new religion, which became as much an ethnic and political symbol as theological.

Having defeated the "Black Fanatic", the diverse peoples of Palestine would look upon this new Arab nationalism with concern.
 
Ah, reactionary and fanatical religious ideologies are finding fertile ground with those that feel excluded. I wonder this long it takes for that to powderkeg to spark.

Concerning the line "The Maxim was only a few years old and the brainchild of an English-American inventor".

Do people in the lands of what used to be England even consider themselves to be English anymore? Or is it more of an ethnic term to describe a group of people with the same language and a shared history but are politically separated?
 
Ah, reactionary and fanatical religious ideologies are finding fertile ground with those that feel excluded. I wonder this long it takes for that to powderkeg to spark.

Concerning the line "The Maxim was only a few years old and the brainchild of an English-American inventor".

Do people in the lands of what used to be England even consider themselves to be English anymore? Or is it more of an ethnic term to describe a group of people with the same language and a shared history but are politically separated?
I agree at this time that England may be as much a geographic concept rather than a political entity. However, I think the racial history would remain even if politically they were separated.

I added in the "English-American" part as Hiram Maxim had been born in America and in his later years emigrated to England.

Perhaps I should have said "Wessex-American" as he spent the rest of his life in London.
 
Chapter 360
1886

Detroit


Hiram and Hudson Maxim would file suit against Thomas Edison in 1881 alleging that Edison had utilized a loophole in one of the Maxim brothers' patents for the incandescent lightbulb. Evidently, one of the Maxim brothers' employees filed the patent under HIS OWN NAME rather than the Maxims. When Edison discovered this, he was able to upend the patent making the Maxim designs available for all others. This would bring a life-long feud between the brothers and Edison reaching the point in 1886 when Hudson Maxim (Hiram resided mainly in England at this point) moved from his native New Jersey to Detroit and set up his own workshop down the street from Edison. Utilizing his connections, Maxim was able to recruit not only brilliant men from Europe and the East coast but Edison workers disgruntled by low pay, harsh working conditions and Edison's vainglorious personality which took the credit for so many others' work.

Hudson Maxim would instead offer "partial patents" to men who were particularly instrumental in the creation of new ideas. By the 1890's, the unique invention-focused shops of Maxim and Edison were blood-rivals with each openly accusing the other of espionage normally associated with great nations, not companies.

As it happened, Edison would ALSO find himself in a war for dominance of the electrical power business with George Westinghouse and his new partner, a man who emigrated from the Balkans only two years earlier, the brilliant Nikola Tesla.

Hudson Maxim would immediately seek an alliance with Westinghouse to confront the vicious businessman Thomas Edison and sell the Maxim rights to Westinghouse in an exchange for a large quantity of Westinghouse stock as well as certain rights of first refusal for production of Westinghouse patents.

Virginia Naval Yards

After the disaster of Krakatoa, the American shipyards began working around the clock to upgrade the fleet and replace the ships lost to the Krakatoa eruption. As it so happened, the First Lord of the Admiralty gave a great deal of attention to that Alfred Mahan out in Van Diemensland whose naval philosophies had been expounded in a recent book.

The government agreed to expedite the construction of new ships based on new models and, from 1885 to 1886, no less than eight new capital ships had been produced as well as a bevy of smaller ships. These included new armor, artillery and engines, all three of which seemed to leap forward in quality every few years. Indeed, ships produced as recently as the 1870's were already considered largely obsolete and being relegated to brown water duties rather than frontline defensive responsibilities.

Alfred Mahan was promoted to Admiral (the lowest rank of Admiral but pretty good for a man his age) and placed in command of the entire Pacific theater.

As it turned out, this expansion of his military duties was not a problem as his Governor-General duties in Van Diemensland were about to end.

Manhattan

After over a decade of discussion, it was determined that the territories of North Zealand, South Zealand and Van Diemensland WOULD be accepted into the Kingdom of British North America as full Dominions. All had possessed both the minimum population and demonstrated the capacity of territorial government necessary for this next logical step.

Thus, the appointed Territorial governors were removed upon the vote of 1886 and new governors were directly elected as were the first Parliamentarians of the three Dominions. In a surprise, King Alfred I of British North America would personally arrive to oversee the vote in the summer of November 1886 (as they were in the southern hemisphere, the summertime was in the northern winter.

Some muttered that the King only agreed to the trip to avoid another Manhattan winter but nevertheless the voyage was a spectacular success. Four new modern ships arrived in Adelheid, Van Diemensland to reinforce the local squadron under Mahan.

Several local dignitaries were granted honors including a merchant from South Zealand known for propelling the local wool trade to international renown and a charitable minister to the poor from North Zealand being made members of the British North American Kingdom Society, a famous Van Diemensland artist being granted a Knighthood of the Crown (given to non-military contributors to the nation) and the aging Governor-General James Longstreet of North Zealand being granted a Knighthood of the Sword (for military service).

Accompanying His Majesty was Benjamin D'Israeli, who proceeded to Bourbonia to discuss more martial matters with the generals, admirals and politicians of the French colony. Both America and France were getting increasingly irritated with the loss of trade with China, the Maratha Empire and Southeast Asia. The French, in particular, wanted to open up ALL of Southeast Asia to trade, something currently impossible given the war. The French Foreign Minister was reportedly even eyeing the entirety of the East India Company holdings in the East Indies.

D'Israeli, confident of the British North American Navy's capabilities in conjunction with France's counterpart even AFTER the Krakatoa disaster, was willing to accept this....provided that America was compensated. D'Israeli wanted both access to Southeast Asia as well as the Pacific Islands. D'Israel had also read Mahan's book and, lacking naval experience, came to agree that maintaining naval bases in the Pacific would ensure America's sovereignty.

Actual SAILORS would look at Samoa, Kanakia, Fiji and other islands and point out that the islands hardly possessed ideal harbors for a naval fleet and the "Territorial" Minister (who reported to the Foreign Minister for some reason) would point out the likely high costs of maintaining these islands for decades or centuries ahead.

But D'Israeli was adamant that America expand lest she be vulnerable in the future thus he continued with his potential alliance with France.

In the meantime, a matter of greater importance would be taking place in a territory which sailors and bureaucrats in the American government MOST ASSUREDLY found important.

Hawaii

For years, the King of Tikhookeaskoya had attempted to get his brother, the Czar of Russia, to grant him Hawaii in sovereignty. However, the Czar had another annoying brother he wished to be rid of, the bachelor (and reputed homosexual) Duke Ivan. After hushing up enough of his brother's transgressions with page boys, the Czar finally broke down and granted the Hawaiian islands to Duke Ivan in 1880 as King Ivan. Having given up then-Russian America to Alexei, the Islands had no particular use to Russia and this seemed to work for all parties involved, including the Czar's bitch mother who, somehow, continued to live.

The new King Ivan of Hawaii wasted no time in running up huge debts for his hedonistic lifestyle and, by 1886, the King was already running out of people to support his lifestyle. Thus he came up with an idea: as he was unmarried (and would remain so as long as he preferred young boys to women), he would mortgage the islands to the highest bidder. This proved to be America whose King was willing to support Ivan's rich tastes (the Palace in Hawaii was almost as grand as King Alfred's in Manhattan....at least until it burned down in 1885) for the rest of his life provided the islands would fall to King Alfred afterwards.

Benjamin D'Israeli would enthusiastically support this in the Ministry and, right on cue, King Ivan reportedly drowned while having a pool orgy with a group of young native boys. Immediately, America dispatched ships and soldiers to assume control over Hawaii. As the central shipping point of the Pacific, the port of Honolulu was ideal as a naval base and America, for a few million dollars, received title to the Hawaiian islands, by 1887 a mix of 100,000 Russian and Native peoples who largely didn't want to be America's puppets.

But D'Israeli and the soldiers and sailors dispatched to assume control over the islands didn't give a damn about that.

Malaya

King Mahesh Wesley of Nepal managed to crush the Chinese forces repeatedly invading along the Eastern Coast of the Peninsula. However, the Peshwa's Admirals appeared disinclined to challenge the Chinese as sea. The eruption of Krakatoa a few years' prior had shaken the entire region to the point King Mahesh was stunned that the war was not brought to a swift end. The past two years had accomplished effectively nothing but bring pain to the people of southeast Asia. The Malayan Peninsula had been reduced to ash as hundreds of thousands died of warfare, disease, hunger, exposure and displacement. Many tens of thousands were actually evacuated from the Peninsula to work the East India Company fields in Java.

By 1886, King Mahesh was fully tired of the war. Even if it came to an end today with one side or the other achieving full victory, it was obvious that the costs of the war vastly outweighed any conceivable gain on the part of the Mandarin or the Peshwa.

Mahesh wondered if his European ancestors routinely waged such unproductive wars knowing that nothing could be gained. He liked to think his Irish-English Great Grandfather, Arthur Wesley, would not engage in such a waste but who could really say?

As it so happened, Wesley was happy to meet one of his distant relatives. While Arthur Wesley, having served the then-Peshwa well, was granted the Kingship of Nepal, the majority of the rest of the Wesley clan remained in service of the East India Company, many joining the ranks of the Directorate. The EIC representative to Wesley's staff happened to be his distant cousin, Thomas Wesley, who himself was something of a mix of Anglo-Irish, Dutch, Topass and Javan. The two got along famously and caught up on family business over the years. Rumor had it that one branch of the Wesley family even ended up in British North America working as poor farmers in some place called West Florida.

Thomas confided in Mahesh that the EIC, which had been pressed into the war by the Peshwa, was getting increasingly frustrated with the conflict and were threatening to pull their support. Naturally, Mahesh doubted this as the Marathas could probably end the existence of the Company without overly much effort but kept this tongue. He certainly could not disagree that the war was unpopular. Reportedly, even the peasants of the subcontinent were protesting the unprofitable conflict.

Finally, in October of 1886, King Mahesh would receive the news he was waiting for: the Peshwa and the Mandarin had agreed to an armistice.
 
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Chapter 361
1887 - January

Manhattan


With the death of Queen Adelheid of Oldenburg and Queen-Mother of British North America, King Alfred became direct King of Oldenburg. In 1887, he arrived to be formally crowned, granted several honors under his authority of the King of Oldenburg, visited a few German relatives nearby and generally kept the same governors in place (who were relatively popular) telling them to keep up the good work.

Then he returned to America.

There were some in America who feared that the King would compromise American interests for his European possession. But, in all reality, the idea of a monarch with possession in Europe were generally approved of as proof that America's monarchy meant something in the European social order. It wasn't as if the German Confederation to which Oldenburg belonged was some form of enemy or rival to America. In reality, the relations between America and the predominantly Protestant German Confederation remained warm.

Eventually, the idea that Oldenburg being held in personal union with America by King Alfred was forgotten by the general public.

Southeast Asia

George McClellan Junior, now 22, had never been inclined towards a military career like his father thus he went to school in Batavia and eventually received a commission by the Peshwa as a high-ranking functionary in the Christian region between the Maratha Empire and Burma. By 1887, the Peshwa determined to annex this region but decided that a Christian King (naturally under the Peshwa's thumb, military, taxation policies and bureaucracy) were preferred. Thus, the Peshwa decided that the Protestant McClellan was an ideal choice for King. He was malleable and no conceivable threat. For generations, the Peshwas had been pursuing this policy of local Kings under the guiding hands of Maratha "advisors" and this seemed to work well enough.

McClellan, still unmarried, was quietly "advised" to marry one of his Protestant noblewomen among the native tribes and selected one he found attractive enough. It was to his regret that his wildly ambitious father had died in 1886 after his great victories against the Mahdists. To see his son raised to a Kingly status, even a puppet Kingly status, would have been quite the accomplishment.

In the same time period, the armistice between the Maratha and Chinese Empires would drag on as negotiators dithered over petty details. Sure of the eventual peace settlement which would leave Burma under Maratha "alliance", the Peshwa's minions would determine that the King of unified Burma was getting too big for his breeches and decided to separate Burma into rational regional and ethnic divisions. Thus, local "Kings" were elevated to position in the northern regions and Burma itself was divided into five reasonably sized pieces easy for the Maratha Empire to control and, within the decade, openly annex.

Malaya

As the Chinese withdrew all forces from Malaya, the Peshwa (somewhat surprisingly) agreed to cede the region to the East India Company. Immediately, the Company took over all political functions as they had in Java and Sumatra. Palm trees, rubber trees and other valuable export goods were immediately planted and the company directed the people to commence work. The old Princes, Sultans and other Royal families of the region were disinherited without compensation and removed to Sebesi, the island which had been depopulated after the explosion of Krakatoa as their new "homeland".

All of this was somewhat surprising given the decline in relations between the Maratha Empire and the East India Company. The latter was bitter to have been dragged into this unprofitable conflict while the Peshwa was sick of the EIC's dragging their feet on everything.

This collapse in relations would lead to Maratha indifference as the relations between the EIC as France (and America) fell apart in 1888.

Southern Africa

George Custer would almost retire in 1887 but was talked into maintaining his military career by his family, who was accustomed to being granted preferential treatment in EIC's Southern African colony.

By 1887, the Jewish contingent of the colony was so large (particularly in the west) that these peoples made up the large majority of militia. Custer would maintain good relations and happily arrange for the EIC to provide modern weapons for the militia and small standard army (one of the few areas the Company happily spent money upon). The diamond, gold and other mining concerns remained steadily profitable and the company also saw an improvement agriculture and other sectors of the economy as the population increased past 1,000,000 souls (over 5 times that of the Dutch Cape Colony to the West).

It would turn out that Custer would swiftly require this good will among the Jews as war was about to engulf Southern Africa, a war (like the one with China) that the EIC didn't want.

The Indian Ocean

In all reality, the final straw in the war between France and the EIC would be little more than a minor incident in which an EIC sailor struck back at a French merchant captain who struck HIM with his cane during an unwelcome "inspection" of the French merchant ship's cargo. In the end, the vessel was allowed to cross the Indian Ocean without further molestation but the incident was played up in Paris to the point that the French government, already eager for conquest, would call for war.

By 1888, the French were assembling a huge fleet of warships, supply vessels and troop transports (indeed, a large portion of the French modern military and civilian steam-ship fleet) towards Southern Africa.

Naturally, the French Foreign Minister would call upon his American counter-part, Benjamin D'Israeli, to follow through on his part of the bargain negotiated in secret behind closed doors over the previous years.
 
Chapter 362
1888

March

Southern Africa


The French commanders of the 25,000 strong French Army alighted upon East India Company soil had long expected to be supported by the Cape Colony to the West. However, after being humiliated by the East India Company on land and sea the previous war, the Dutch had gravitated to the French. When the French failed to do much to support the Dutch, this left the small European nation feeling isolated and weak, a feeling which was expanded when the Dutch ships of the ill-fated "White Fleet" (named for the color of the ships and the color of the sailors) had somehow managed to sail by an erupting volcano.

Unlike the Americans, French and Russians, the Dutch could not replace their capital ships so easily. When the war in Southeast Asia waged, the Dutch were informed by the EIC Ambassador in the Hague that, should the Dutch act against the EIC again, then they better damned well win else the Cape Colony would be forfeit.

There was some hope in Dutch political circles that the French would prove to be their sponsor but instead it appeared that the French were far more interested in expanding their own Empire in the Southwest Pacific around Bourbonia than protecting the Dutch (no terrible surprise there). In the end, the Dutch declared "neutrality" when the French began throwing their weight around diplomatically and preparing for a war with the EIC obviously intended for aggression.

Pune

While the Peshwa protested, the Prince would insist on marrying the daughter of George McClellan, the beautiful Christian "May" McClellan. Tall and attractive like her mother, Ellen McClellan (who as the widow of the late General McClellan of the East India Company), May was intelligent and refined. Ellen herself was quietly considered smarter and more practical than her vainglorious husband, now dead over two years.

Finding her son the new King of a region of Asiatics converted to Christianity over the past century, Ellen McClellan would depart East Africa in 1886 to receive the Honors the Peshwa intended for her husband for defeating the Mahdi. Despite overthrowing the last of the Mughal influence over a century before and casting out all but the most minor of Muslim Princes from their thrones, the idea of Muslim domination over India remained after centuries of Mughal dominance.

However, a Christian marrying into the Royal Family was hardly as threatening. Yes, the Europeans and their assorted "East India Companies", now merged into one, had gained disproportionate influence on the Indian subcontinent for a short time but this was always peripheral in the eyes of the Maratha public. The closest any of these previous iterations had reached to actual political control was the brief attempt by the now-defunct British East India Company to seize the wealthy region of Bengal.

Most Indians (as the majority of the people of the subcontinent tended to call themselves rather than "Marathas" which referred to the ethnic group of the Imperial Dynasty) would deem the Europeans as parasitic at most and irrelevant at least over the centuries. This may be something of an exaggeration to historical facts given the outsized influence of the East India Company and her multi-national fore-bearers but nevertheless was rooted in modern Maratha Empire public opinion and Imperial doctrine.

In the end, it was perhaps not politically impossible for a Peshwa's Hindu son to marry a Christian sister of a Christian King under the Peshwa's influence. Thus the Prince realized his wish and was allowed to marry his Christian wife. What WAS surprising is that the Prince would decline to marry additional wives. While Polygamy was not UNCOMMON among the Hindus or Muslims of the subcontinent, it was not terribly common either among the peasantry. Indeed, Polygamy was tended to be practiced by the Middle and Upper Classes of Hindu and Muslim society with a slight numerical advantage to the Hindus over the Muslims (which would come as a surprise to the general population).

However, Christians were utterly and completely opposed to polygamy and May McClellan openly stated as such before she consented to marrying the Prince. In light of these objections, the Prince would openly promise not only never to marry another woman but oppose any Muslim or Hindu polygamy as well during his eventual reign. Thus the marriage was made and, within a year, a male child was born, this being enough to placate the Peshwa. While it would be years to be felt, May McClellan's influence would be felt as she opposed not only polygamy of all religions but suttee among the woman of the Maratha Empire and other reforms. The Prince would follow her lead on these issues and it was apparent that the inheritors of the Empire would follow a reformist course. Indeed, the current Peshwa himself would already begin supporting most of these reforms in his own lifetime and forged a good relationship with his daughter-in-law for the rest of his life (naturally the male children of this marriage would be raised as Hindu though May would never give up her faith).

Van Diemensland

Admiral Alfred Mahan had been asking for weeks if America had somehow actually declared war on the East India Company. The instructions which he'd received for his fleet (somehow comprising of a disproportionate number of the best of America's modern vessels) seemed to indicate this but no actual declaration of war had occurred.

Mahan had been ordered to "support the French Pacific Fleet in operations against the East India Company" but this seemed unreasonable to the Admiral. Finally, a diplomatic representative under orders from Benjamin D'Israeli arrived to explain the situation. While the more powerful and modern vessels of the American Pacific fleet would sail with the French against the East India Company, the smaller ships would assume control over Fiji, Samoa and Kanakia with French blessing. Indeed, all of the American army forces on hand would sail to these islands with the agreement that they would take over any French fortifications which existed in these islands (effectively none as it would turn out).

But the matter of a declaration of war, which Mahan viewed as a matter of honor, remained. Was America to sail "with the French" without a declaration of war, effectively acting as base mercenaries. While Mahan understood the military and political objectives, the means seemed utterly dishonorable for a major nation such as America which claimed to be a world power by the 1880's.

But Mahan received little such support and was obliged to sail "with the French" as the Bourbonian Fleet (the common name for the French Pacific Fleet) proceeded to attack the East Indies. Naturally, the Americans would take fire as well as they assaulted Bali, Batavia and other East India Company stations and would defend themselves but Mahan would always remember this as a crass attempt to bypass Parliamentary approval for actual war.

Yes, there had been several obnoxious East India Company stoppings of American ships in the Southwest Pacific and the Indian Ocean......but war????!!!

This seemed unreasonable and even the French agreement to cede their vacant Pacific Islands hardly justified the aggression in Mahan's mind. It was obvious that D'Israeli was behind this. Despite his own support for gathering naval bases and encouraging a strong navy, Mahan could not see this as anything other than crass bullying and opportunism unworthy of the British North American Crown.

Still, he did his duty and, having been relieved in 1887 of his political duties as Governor-General of Van Diemensland, would lead his own convoy of eight American vessels in support of the French against the East India Company possessions in the East Indies. Only later would he learn of the French invasion of Southern Africa. He wondered at the time if America would later regret these actions.

But, at least in the initial stages, the French invasion of the "Spice Islands", the small islands of the eastern East India Company, would prove successful. An EIC fleet would arrive to challenge the interlopers in battle only to be comprehensively defeated by the Franco-American fleet at Bali. The islands which had, for centuries, provided a number of valuable spices to the Portuguese, Dutch and then East India Company, fell to the French invasion forces.

However, a battle east of Batavia in 1888, would prove more deadly as the EIC unleashed a new weapon upon the French and American fleet: the torpedo.

While hardly a new idea, the EIC managed to create the next generation torpedo and successfully utilize it as the French and Americans attacked the EIC capital of Batavia. The EIC fleet, with the notable absence of any Maratha support, would face off against the allied ships and immediately suffer several losses. It soon became apparent that the French and American ships were better armed, armored and powered than even the best of the EIC vessels. However, small "destroyer" ships would quickly attack the allied vessels from the side and the torpedoes would cause immediate destruction.

The French ship carrying the Admiral blew up, leaving only five survivors, after a torpedo strike. Another French capital ship sunk beneath the waves and a third smaller ship crippled to the point than another vessel would be forced to tow her off.

The Americans were modestly more fortunate as Mahan's own command ship suffered a broadside and was forced to retreat while another American vessel would suffer a strike by a torpedo to her rudder....but the flimsy torpedo would fail to explode. However, the impact alone was enough to force the American ship to be towed away as well.

In the end, the EIC lost five ships to the allied one....but the allies suffered such damage that they dared not advance further than Bali.

Manhattan

King Alfred I was livid. While he gave Benjamin D'Israeli the freedom to act "per local conditions", this did not mean that D'Israeli was given license to declare war on the part of the nation. More than a little disgusted with the First Lord John Abbott, the King himself took almost the unprecedented step of chastening D'Israeli for his actions though he stopped short of demanding the man's resignation.

The nation was no less split. Many members of the government, of Parliament and the public demanded that D'Israeli be removed. But this resistance was adequately non-centralized that no single group could force the man's eviction from office.

Abbott, who by 1888 was aging and dependent upon the more assertive D'Israeli, would refuse to demand his resignation as well, thus the King could not bring himself to do it FOR his First Lord. The Jewish Foreign Minister retained his office....for the moment.

However, the King demanded that Abbott clarify if he was advocating war by writ as well as by deed.
 
Population of British North American Dominions and Territories from 1880 Census
British North America - 62,000,000

54 Dominions: 1888

Quebec - 1.500,000
Montreal - 1,000,000
Nova Scotia - 590,000
Charlottia (New Brunswick, former Acadia west of the Isthmus of Chignecto) - 350,000
Newfoundland - 240,000
Vermont (including the contested Hampshire Grants and the western portion of the former district of Maine under the colony of Massachusetts) - 1,600,000
Sagadahock (formerly the eastern portion of the district of Maine under the colony of Massachusetts) - 550,000
Massachusetts - 2.900,000
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations - 700,000
Connecticut - 2,200,000
New York - 2,900,000
Long Island -2,500,000
Manhattan - 1,100,000
New Jersey - 2,200,000
Pennsylvania - 3,900,000
Delaware -1,000,000
Maryland - 2.000,000
Virginia - 2,500,000
Kanawha (West Virginia) - 1,200,000
North Carolina - 1,800,000
Catabwa (West North Carolina) - 605,000
South Carolina - 1,250,000
Wateree (West South Carolina) - 600,000
Georgia - 1,800,000
West Florida (South Alabama, South Mississippi and Florida Panhandle) - 1,300,000
Mississauga (Peninsular Ontario) -1,800,000
Maumee (Western Kentucky) - 1.200,000
Shawnee (Eastern Kentucky) - 1,050,000
Westsylvania (Western Pennsylvania) - 1,150,000
Watauga (Eastern Tennessee) - 1,120,000
Tennessee (Western Tennessee) - 1,360,000
Hanover (Louisiana) - 1,250,000
Caledonia (Parts of Northern Texas and Oklahoma) - 1,250,000
Aethiopia (Southern Texas and parts of northeast Mexico) - 1,900,000
Arkansas - 900,000
Miami (OTL Indiana) - 1,250,000
Ohio (Most of OTL Ohio) - 1,800,000
Michigan (Lower Peninsula) - 1.200,000
East Florida and the Bahama Islands (Florida minus Panhandle) - 950,000
Indiana (northern Mississippi and Alabama) - 950,000
Chicago (Illinois) - 610,000
Marquette (Wisconsin) - 350,000
Mauretania (Iowa) - 280,000
Thracia (Missouri) - 200,000
Hibernia (Oklahoma) - 280,000
Baetica (Sonora/Chihuahua) - 196,000
Lycia (Sinaloa/Durango) - 206,000
Pamphylia (Coahuila) - 220,000
Cappadocia (Manitoba) - 195,000
Belgica (Utah/Colorado) - 140,000
Lusitania (Southern Nebraska/Kansas) - 185,000
Moesia (Northern Nebraska/South Dakota) -190,000
Aquitania (West Texas) - 170,000 (received Dominion status in 1874)
Cilicia (Nevada/Utah) - 175,000 (received Dominion status in 1875)
North Zealand - 120,000
South Zealand - 100,000
Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) - 75,000



Assorted British North American Territories (not yet Dominions) - est 500,000
Hudson (Northern Ontario)
Labrador (Eastern Quebec Peninsula)
Laurentia (Northwestern Quebec)
Denedeh (Western Northern Territories)
Inuit (Eastern Northern Territories)
Raetia (Alberta/Montana)
Pannonia (Saskatchewan/North Dakota)
Noricum (Wyoming)
Galatea (Western Arizona)
Iceni (Eastern New Mexico)
Dobunni (Western New Mexico / Eastern Arizona)
Easter Island
Tahiti
Samoa
Fiji
Kanakia
Tonga
Hawaii (60,000)
 
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American Hawaii!! Whoop glad to see an expansion of American power in the Pacific!

I will be very interested to see how any war with the EIC goes. Keep up the great work!
 
The map reminds me: what do continental railways look like here? It seems the like KNA would have at least one "transcontinental" railway hitting the coast on the Gulf of California, but I'm curious if there's any cross-national transcontinental routes constructed further north.
 
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