Fenians, Brits, Mexicans, Canucks and Frenchies....OH, MY! An alternate American Civil War

Small nitpick. His name is Henry Halleck, not Hallock. It just really bothers me when someone spells a person's name wrong. Just figured I'd point that out.
So will the US be annexing British Columbia, Rupert’s Land and the Northwestern Territory from the British after the war ends? None of those territories were part of Canada until Confederation in 1867 and were all nearly empty.
Chapter 48
May, 1864


General Bazaine would grit his teeth as 3000 of his best troops would embark in Veracruz. The Egyptians, Africans and Austrians (which had been included when France and Austria were still allies) were departing. The Belgian Corps and an expansion of the Austrian Brigade expected to arrive in 1864 had already been cancelled after Maximilian of Austria and his Wife Carlota of Belgium would find taking up Napoleon III's offer of a throne politically unacceptable after France's apparent betrayal of Austria the year prior. Though Carlota longed for a crown of her own, she could not get her husband to betray his own brother in such a way.

The initial Austrian Brigade had finally been summoned home representing the final split between France and Austria's alliance.


After months of barely hanging on, the coalition government fell. It was not over the French, Russian, Mexican or American problems. It was over a modest bill to reorganize the Irish School system. The Radical Leader John Bright wanted to go too far in the bill (without going as far as home rule) while Gladstone would not.

Bright would be outraged at the watering down of his bill and withdrew from the government. Many of the "Young Ireland" backbenchers would follow.

It was enough for the rickety coalition to fall apart.

The Queen, utterly disgusted at her government's inability to govern, would summon Palmerston, Disraeli, Derby, Russell.....anyone who could forge a coalition.

In the end, Palmerston and Russell begged off, stating that they could not. Disraeli and Derby could not either.

Finally, Her Majesty summoned......Gladstone.

Never in her reign had Victoria loathed a minister as much as she had Gladstone. Pompous and self-righteous, the man had the temerity to lecture HER!

Gladstone agreed to form a Ministry but would need some time. To do so, he would have to keep Disraeli and Derby in the government but exchange the Radicals for more of the Liberals. This would take some negotiations and he would need to get Palmerston and Russell to pull in as many Liberals as possible.

Eastern Anatolia

With the collapse in authority in the Ottoman Empire, the Russian invasion of the Armenian lands would proceed with almost contemptuous ease.

With the same lack of humanity the Russians displayed in Circassia and the lands of the Tartars, the Czar's forces would prove utterly ruthless and evict hundreds of thousands of Turks and other Muslim groups they deemed a threat.

Eyelets of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra

With the Ottoman central authority gone, the Arabs of the east would revolt successfully, kicking out the remaining Ottoman administrators.

Western Ireland

Word of repeated British defeats had brought enormous joy to the hearts of millions of Irishmen. Though the economic times on the island had improved greatly since the Famine, resentment against British rule was reaching new heights.

Off the coast of Galway in 1864, the USS Manhattan, one of the few commerce raiders still being dispatched by the American government, would exchange fire with a British frigate and burn it to the waterline in full view of thousands of Irishmen.

A spontaneous revolt erupted in western Ireland as tens of thousands of America-made rifles emerged from seemingly nowhere.


Napoleon III would look at the global chessboard with joy. The British appeared to be overwhelmed with problems and France appeared to be getting away with murder. He'd played the game well and Britain dare not directly intervene against France in the Eastern Mediterranean else they finding themselves at war with five nations.

Now, the French Emperor found another way to tweak Britain's nose and raise French profile in Latin America.

Over the past few years, Britain and Brazil had engaged in a diplomatic feud not unlike the one which had engulfed Britain and America. Pride and arrogance led to Brazil expelling the British delegation and the two nations barely communication, much less trading since 1861.

Seeing an opportunity to expand his influence in Latin America, Napoleon III would would offer Brazil support in her own involvement in the Uruguayan Civil War. Brazil was supporting the "Blanco" Party while Argentine supported the "Colorado" Party. Eventually, the French Envoy in Montevideo would seek to form an alliance with Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay (Paraguay's President Lopez was only recently getting involved in the regional dispute).

Brazil was not only the most populous nation in South America but her economy was rapidly becoming the most robust in the region as well. It seemed a good bet to gain influence in multiple countries while further isolating Britain. Best case scenario, Britain would throw in with Argentina, thus creating more ill-will with the trading power and allowing French traders to assume greater domination of the market.

Intended to tweak his rival Empire's nose, the decision for European involvement in South America affairs would have wide-ranging impact worldwide.
The British should have learned some ting for the land war with the US and must be looking a getting better rifles and tactics. even if they preparing for future war.
As regards rebellion in Ireland.
The weakness of rebellion in Ireland with the exception of the war of independence was paid spies in their ranks working for Dublin castle.
The first target would be the RIC who was the eye and ears of the British in Ireland. RIC was more of a paramilitary police force than a normal civilian police force.
OTL letters send RIC members pursued 1/3 to leave OTL in the war of independence. Their other targets were tax offices and the court system.
They replaced the British court system with republican courts.
The Republicans had their own spies in Dublin castle.
Boycotts of crown forces by the rail workers etc also crippled British logistics in Ireland. Cutting telegraph wires would also make life hard for the British.
Standard British response of brutal repression only increases support for the rebells.
All this places the British empire in a very bad position in the coming scramble for Africa.
There is bound to be trouble with the Zulus and Boers in not too many years.
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All this places the British empire in a very bad position in the coming scramble for Africa.
There is bound to be trouble with the Zulus and Boers in not too many years.
Ironically it could put them in a better position, if only because they are more desperate and thus lay claim to more of the continent.
indeed. They might after reforms have better weapons and a better-orgainsed army and tactics.
There is also conflict going on in New Zealand in 1863.
Just dawned on me that ITTL, Britain more or lost a big chunk of their empire once and bounced back, rebuilding after the American Revolution. Then it lost a big chunk of its empire again in this war. And yet, they look likely to rebuild it a third time. If that isn't a hat trick, nothing is.
Just dawned on me that ITTL, Britain more or lost a big chunk of their empire once and bounced back, rebuilding after the American Revolution. Then it lost a big chunk of its empire again in this war. And yet, they look likely to rebuild it a third time. If that isn't a hat trick, nothing is.
This time I think the Queen will be in charge and their main ally in Europe will be Prussia.
Chapter 49
May 1864


As a bone thrown to the Austrians after having effectively stolen two more of Emperor's provinces (Galicia and Venetia), Austria had been granted rights to Bosnia. Though the Austrians would initially make moves to assume control, the Emperor in a rare bout of lucidity among European monarchs, swiftly realized that seizing Bosnia would present virtually no benefits to the Empire and likely no end of problems.

Thus, Austria would withdraw the handful of forces which had crossed the border and returned them to their billets.

Bosnia would be granted leave to form their own government.


Great Britain would not be the only country concerned with France's omni-directional expansion of influence in the world. Spain, still reeling from the Carlist Wars, was already being dragged into their own quagmire.

Queen Isabella had been invited by a leading General to reassume control over the Dominican after a 50 year absence. Having lost so much of their Empire in the early 19th century, the Queen leaped at the opportunity in 1860. Though America had long spouted the "Monroe Doctrine", in reality that nation had seldom possessed the military might to evict colonial powers from North America. When the War between the States commenced in 1861, this left the opportunity for European to ease back into the role of colonial masters. Spain assumed control over the Dominican while France attempted to conquer Mexico.

In the 1850's, the Dominican portion of the Island of Hispaniola had overthrown the Empire of Haiti's Emperor Faustin Soulouque, the Emperor exiled in 1859. However, Haiti would remain under political and economic disorders under the new Republican President. In 1864, the aging (81) Faustin Soulouque returned to Haiti with is nephew and heir, Prince Mainville. Having maintained contact with various officials for years, the Soulouques would quietly arrange a coup in which they could return to power.

To regain popularity among the people, the elder Soulouque and his nephew would arrange a new "liberation" of the Dominican. This took very much the appearance of a racial war as the Haitians were predominantly black while the Dominicans were largely white or gens de color (code for mixed race) as Spain had never been

The Dominicans put up a resistance to the Spanish reconquest. But the Invasion of the Haitians largely united the Dominicans once more. Queen Isabella's other colonies of Puerto Rico and Cuba would provide tens of thousands of migrants per year (also from Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Italy) to the Dominican. Spain provided nearly 20,000 soldiers to support the Dominican army which promptly counterattacked.

As the Haitians had largely (at the Soulouque's prompting) murdered large numbers of Dominican gentry, the Dominicans, Spaniards, Cubans and Puerto Ricans would repay this butchery a hundred fold.

Hispaniola soon was reduced to a bloody graveyard.

Eastern Mexico (coast)

While there WAS a north-south road mirroring the Caribbean coast of Mexico, it was not easy going. Despite the moderately flat road (for long stretches at least), Lee would struggle to move his army 20 miles a day. Usually he wouldn't come close.

For weeks, the Americans and Mexican Liberals would march further and further from their supply base in Tampico (one which was easily reachable by sea but the French navy had finally blockaded it in May) knowing they may be cut off at any time.

Forage was hard to find in this remote and lightly populated region while the heat of the summer caused men and animals to sicken at alarming rates.

With French and Mexican "Junta" cavalry keeping an eye on his advance, Lee was certain that the enemy would pick its time to challenge him entirely at THEIR advantage.

He wondered how Grant was doing.


Once again, Charleston was becoming the hub of the cotton trade in America. As the harbor had seldom been blockaded by the British, the massive supply of cotton stockpiled over two years of war had finally been shipped, largely to Union ports. However, neutral parties like the Dutch and Spanish frequently came calling.

With the abolition of slavery, actual PRODUCTION of cotton had plummeted by 1863 to less than 40% of pre-war levels due to the outward migration of almost 25% of the southern freedmen (a process continuing in 1864). While many of those Negroes remaining in the south had found some vocations or been granted some land to farm on their own, the majority were left in similar conditions to bondage working as day-laborers or migrant cotton-pickers. This brought in some level of cotton production, enough to feed the burgeoning textile mills of the north but no enough to even remotely satiate Europe's appetite.

By happenstance, three American cargo vessels arriving from New England with loads of grain to exchange for cotton would catch the attention of a passing British convoy of six naval vessels. Fortunately, the merchant ships were within easy range of Charleston and made for the port before the military vessels could catch them on the open seas.

However, they did attempt to chase the civilians into the harbor and that proved an error.

In one of history's great ironies, General Anderson, who had defended the great Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor against the rebels in the opening battle of the Civil War, had been reassigned to the fortification to upgrade her defenses and those of the coastal batteries. For the first time since the surrender of the Confederacy, local civilians in Charleston had been granted authorization to serve in the militia due to lack of Union soldiers along the coast. Rather than give them muskets, the militia (mostly black men) would mostly serve as artillery men.

However, several senior officers were absent that day and the poorly drilled militia in the city and coastal defenses needed urgent leadership to support Sumter. Into this situation walked P.T. Beauregard, the same man who once fired the opening shot of the Civil War upon his old teacher and friend from West Point, Anderson. Beauregard had been leading an initiative to rebuild the southern railroads and was instrumental in getting wide swathes of the south connected again. He happened to be inspecting a nearby railroad tie when he heard the thunder of artillery.

Beauregard immediately took to the ramparts were a half dozen huge Dahlgrens were haphazardly firing (usually to no effect) upon the British and promptly corrected the angle of trajectory, homing in on the British vessels. Between Sumpter and the coastal defenses, two British ships were battled shelled and limped out to sea where they sank within sight of the Fortification.

Anderson would return to the mainland that night and discover, to his abject shock, who his deliverer had been. While there were no hard feelings between the two men over the events of four years prior, they took the time renew their friendship. The unlikely coincidence would be reported upon throughout the nation as an example of a genuine reapproachment between north and south.

50 miles south of Zacatecas

General Ulysses Grant was already getting tired of being in Mexico. He hated the ordeal the first time he had to fight here and loathed it more in 1864. While he had won his first major engagement in Mexico over the French General Bazaine himself, Grant would soon tire of the dismal heat and, worse, the sullen inhabitants.

When his army stumbled into Zacatecas, his army was already at the end of its rope supply-wise. Even seizing some French and "Junta" supplies in the city did little to extend his range. However, the local Mexicans, even those supportive of Juarez' Liberals, would offer little to aid the Americans. The best he could do was seize a shipment of government silver from the nearby mines (a most fortuitous occurrence) which enabled him to purchased forage and food for his men. Even the aides dispatched by Juarez could do little to obtain supplies.

He wondered if Mexico's freedom was worth fighting for.

Thus, after weeks of rest and recuperation, Grant's army moved south once more.
Chapter 50
June, 1864

Northern Maine

Though few considered the idea feasible, the Army would continue constructing a roadway northbound towards the New Brunswick border. If nothing else, it was another good warning to the British of the Maritimes. It was only 90 miles from the border to St. Johns.

With continued British dominance on the waves, America had few opportunities to pressure the British on land. Though a trek through the Maritimes in the face of British regulars prepared for their arrival was not ideal, at least it reminded Great Britain that there was a lot MORE that they could lose in this conflict.


In short order, the Brazilian and Paraguayan forces had aided the "Blancos" faction to regain the Capital of Uruguay.

Here, the French Ambassador would prove instrumental in maintaining the alliance for Paraguay had significant border disputes with both Argentina and Brazil. Nearly 18% of Paraguay's population spoke Portuguese and considered themselves Brazilian.

However, the French were able to buy off President Lopez's territorial claims against the Brazilians in exchange for large amounts of military stores. For the moment, the alliance held.

This was necessary as the British was openly supporting the Argentinians and "Colorado" faction of the Uruguayans. The Rio Plata would quickly see a flotilla of British ships which would dominate the region's waters. However, the Argentines were on the wrong side of the Uruguay River.

What President Mitre of Argentina would not realize was that the French would reignite long held dreams of freedom from the inland Argentine provinces. Over the 1850's and to the Battle of Pavon in 1861, Argentina had been at war with itself. President Mitre represented Buenos Aires Province which had long dominated Argentina, both before and after the war.

With the war with Brazil, the French negotiated an alliance with former Argentine Confederation General Urquiza who had been defeated by Mitre and went into sullen retirement in Entre Rios state near the border of Uruguay. While Urquize had no love for Paraguay, Uruguay OR Brazil (or the French), he realized that Mitre was always going to dominate the rest of the Confederation from Buenos Aires.


Queen Isabella would demand her Ministers to dispatch MORE and MORE troops to the Dominican to maintain the illusion in her own mind that Spain remained a global power.

San Luis Potosi, Central Mexico

After a long, terrible march, Grant managed to drag his army and most of his supplies to San Luis Potosi, yet another silver producing hub. Grant was uncertain why the French had not faced him in open battle again.

He supposed that the French were drawing him ever further south.

He did not know of the events out in the Caribbean.


With the American Navy forces still clearly outgunned by the British, every source of shipbuilding would be utilized. This included several along the Mississippi River which was protected from the Royal Navy. Dozens of ships would be built, including several purpose built for the high seas.

Slowly, the Mississippi squadron would make its way inexorably towards the Caribbean. The Mississippi delta was challenging for these vessels to navigate. The heaviest ships could not possible pass New Orleans and even relatively lighter ships had trouble and frequently got stuck on sandbars. But the medium-sized ships were just able to cross with the help of several local pilots when a sudden series of heavy rains raised the river enough to get them through.

From New Orleans, the six American ships would gain the aid of four heavier American ships which had taken refuge in the Delta but had been too large to pass to New Orleans. The fleet would reach Tampico in June, 1864 and cut to pieces the French blockading squadron stationed off the harbor.

The fastest America ship would then sail north to the Mississippi delta to summon small fleet of provisioning ships and transports.

4000 more men would reach Tampico with adequate shot and powder to resupply the Grant and Lee expeditions still plodding south.

After the successful dispatch of their cargo, the fleet would turn east towards the Atlantic and prepare to join the gathering fleets in New York and the Chesapeake.

New York

The USS Puritan would join here fellow heavy Ironclad, USS Dictator, in 1864. The Dictator had recurring engine problems prompting the ship to remain in New York Harbor over 1863-64.

The first Kalamazoo-class monitors would join them in the fall. The first Miantonomah class ships, the Agementicus, had been launched in the summer.

Of course, the actual seaworthiness of the ships was questionable. Would they simply slip below the waves in the first storm?

The heavy ships of the Royal Navy, the Warrior and Black Prince, had been seaworthy. The newer ships being launched in Britain certainly would, including the powerful Defense, Resistance, Hector, Valiant and Achilles. The Minotaur class would commence launching in late 1864.
Looks like the French intel/spy network is not very good in the US.
I wonder how well British spies and doing in America?
Looks like the French intel/spy network is not very good in the US.
I wonder how well British spies and doing in America?
If we go by historical precedent, Spectacularly!

Britain's top agent in the United States, Thomas Miller Beach, operated, undetected, inside the Fenian Brotherhood for 25 years.
At this point OTL he was also a Major in the Union Army.
Chapter 51
August, 1864


As both Grant and Lee moved slowly southward (Lee had received another shipment of supplies which Grant was languishing), both were confused why there had been so few direct encounters with French forces.

They did not realize that the French forces of 30,000 Europeans and Africans which had arrived years ago had been weakened greatly by combat (3000 casualties), disease (4500 casualties and many others weakened) and recalled to their respective masters in Europe (3000 Austrians and Africans). This didn't even count the British and Spanish which had abandoned the expedition as soon as they realized the scope of Napoleon III's ambitions.

At any point, the French only had 15,000 healthy European/African men and another 5000 on the sick list at any given point.

Worse, the huge numbers of arms supplied by the Americans to the Mexican partisans would vastly increase the effectiveness of the Mexican Patriot Partisans throughout the periphery of the country.

The defeat to Grant in Zacatecas had been catastrophic. Prior to this point, Napoleon III had assumed that the European mercenaries of the French Foreign legion, the Austrian "Volunteers", the Algerians, the Egyptians, the Sudanese, etc....would be more than adequate to control the country, especially given the fact that half the Mexican people were on their side, including the all-important clergy, nobility and the like. The only additional forces Napoleon III intended to send were the Belgium Legion, whose departure had been cancelled when it became clear that that the King of Belgium's daughter, Carlotta, would NOT be made Empress of Mexico.

Napoleon III had been loath to dispatch any more actual French Regiments. The tropics tended to eat European armies alive and the Emperor preferred to waste foreign lives than his own. Besides, he was already getting increasingly involved in South America and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Just as importantly, the on the document signing the current peace on the European continent had hardly dried and the Emperor knew that Austria and Britain were less than happy with him. Even Spain had been full of vitriol over Napoleon III's actions .

But the Emperor knew that the current state of affairs, in which Britain's resources were tied up in North America while her attention was riveted upon the Mediterranean. At the moment friendless, Britain's diplomats were probably working hard to seek alliances throughout Europe.

If France was to gain an advantage over the mighty British Empire, it had to move quickly in times like this.

Napoleon III would agree to provide 5000 French veterans to replace the Belgians he'd expected to dispatch. If Bazaine, one of the best of French Generals, could not defeat some Americans and barefooted Mexican insurgents, maybe the damned country wasn't worse claiming.

At least that is what Napoleon III thought quietly. In reality, he knew that the day he claimed the title of Emperor of Mexico for himself, he could not so easily withdraw without suffering international mockery. A defeat France could accept. Humiliation it could not.

Thus, Napoleon III then abridged his earlier note to replace the 3000 Austrians and Africans Bazaine had lost as well with French troops.

As it so happened, the matter might be made moot if Lee managed to seize Veracruz, the lifeline of all Mexican trade and communication. So vital was this that Bazaine elected NOT to defend San Luis Potosi with anything more than 6000 "Junta" troops with a few hundred French Legionaries.

Instead, Bazaine sent the bulk of his immediately available troops - 7000 French and 4000 Mexicans - to join the garrison of Veracruz and march north to meet Lee on the coast. The last thing Bazaine could accept is Veracruz being cut off (though he was sure the city would not fall given her strong walls, a siege would cut him off just as efficiently as Lee taking the city).

Bazaine was impressed by the feat accomplished by the Americans of simply getting their armies so deep into Mexico. In 1846, this had never been accomplished without control over Veracruz (American troops in the Mexican War had hopped from one port city to the next via the Caribbean). But surely, as Napoleon I learned in Russia, the supply line becomes untenable after a certain point.

Having been appointed "Viceroy", Bazaine himself dared not leave the fractious "allies" he had in Mexico City but the French General was convinced that this Lee could not match a French Army in a battle of maneuver.


The British Ambassador stormed out of his audience with the French Foreign Minister, outraged by the French Emperor's daring.

In hindsight, Britain should have more actively opposed Napoleon III when he declared himself Emperor. But the silver-tongued devil had talked his way out of a war.

It was now apparent that the French were attempting an omni-directional expansion of influence.

Worse, the French ironclad production was ramping up so much that, by 1865, France would have MORE ironclads than Britain. The Admiralty was already up in arms about this though there was some debate as to whether or not the French ships were truly a match for the Royal Navy.

But with Britain already at war with America (oddly in a form of co-belligerence with France) and Russia crushing the Ottoman under the Czar's booted heel without any semblance of European opposition, things were looking more dire by the moment.

The Ambassador had hoped to stave off this latest outrage of direct French intervention in a Uruguayan Civil War with a carefully veiled threat. This tactic failed under the scornful gaze of the French Foreign Minister.

Humiliated, the Ambassador was forced to write home and confess his failure.

Eastern Thrace

The Czar would announce that Eastern Thrace would become a Russian province. A mixture of Turks, Bulgarians, Greeks and Jews, the Czar announced the settlement of hundreds of thousands of Russian, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Polish and Jewish "settlers" over the next few years.

The Turks of Eastern Thrace and, well, most of the Balkans would be ejected back into Asia from whence they came. In the meantime, the Armenians and Russians were evicting the Turks from Eastern Anatolia as well. The death toll was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands would later historians would estimate 1-2,000,000 Turkish dead.

In response, the fractious Turkish government(s) would turn upon the Greek, Armenian, Georgian and Assyrian (as well as other minorities like Alevis, Kurds, Arabs or Shi'a) communities in Western Anatolia, killing tens of thousands. Later historians would estimate 250,000 dead at least. These minorities would be ejected to Greece, Greater Armenia, Trabizond and the Near East.

Russia would either make colonies of many of these Near Eastern possession or pronounce their independence (Assyria, Kurdistan, Mesopotamia).

Egypt was already seizing south Damascus and the Ottoman tribute states along the Red Sea.

In stunning fashion, the Ottoman had disintegrated within two years.


The Generals were unanimous: Lincoln had waited too long to invade the Maritimes. If the President had truly expected to march through 90 miles of forest from Maine to seize St. Johns, (much less Halifax), the expedition should have marched at least two months prior.

But winter came quickly this far north and marching in late August into the teeth of British defenses built into the dense forests of New Brunswick was folly.

Lincoln took responsibility for the potential mistake but he'd hoped to avoid further conflict. Plainly, the British were NOT going to launch another invasion of Quebec.

So why the was enemy still at war?

What was to be gained?

What Lincoln did NOT know was the chaos of the British government was making the war itself a side show in London.
Chapter 52
September, 1864

30 miles north of Veracruz.

While technically, there was a "road" upon which Lee's army had travelled, it had been slow going from Tampico. Finally, almost within sight of the fortified city of Veracruz, the French forces manifested upon a gentle rise of hills.

Though not exactly Gibraltar, Lee was not inclined to accept battle upon the French terms.

Instead, he pulled back 500 yards and set up his own artillery. He dispatched cavalry under Jeb Stuart to scout out the enemy. Unsurprisingly, the French and Mexicans had put most of their artillery and heavy infantry on the hills while leaving the cavalry and several light infantry Regiments to the rear as a reserve.

It was a standard defense in which the enemy plainly hoped Lee would oblige by charging the hills.

Instead, Lee opted to wait to see if the French would get impatient first. By September, Lee had 12,000 Americans in his advance columns (most of the rest garrisoning Tampico) and 4000 Mexicans. President Juarez was conspicuous in encouraging the Mexicans until General Zaragoza demanding that the diminutive politician removed himself from the front before some enterprising French sniper ended his pretensions of authority.

Lee settled in to wait.

San Luis Potosi

Grant had, unsurprisingly, route the Mexican forces he outnumbered 2 to 1. Again, as in Zacatecas, the enemy opted against pulling into the city and potentially trapping themselves.

By this point, Grant would have preferred it.

HIs caissons virtually empty, Grant had fought two battles and received nary a bullet of resupply. Only the happenstance of discovering a catch of powder and bullets with a Patriot partisan band allowed Grant to even occupy the city with confidence that he could fight at least one battle to defend it.

Grant had reached the end of his logistical tether. He considered just abandoning San Louis Potosi (and therefore Zacatecas to the north) but knew that marching east to Tampico would effectively take him out of the equation for months and allow the French to concentrate upon Lee. As long as Grant remained in San Luis Potosi, Lee could continue to advance.

Beyond writing scathing letters to whoever the hell was in charge of the Army of Texas, Grant would dispatch a Corps under his old friend Longstreet with several troops of Custer's cavalry directly east to Tampico. If supplies could be found, then Longstreet was to march south to assist Lee.

No reason for Grant's ENTIRE ARMY to be sitting around doing nothing.


The "Gladstone" Ministry of 1864 was not short-lived enough for the Queen. A string of captured caches of weapons in Ireland had led to fears of a general rebellion on that Isle, an impossible outcome given how desperately Britain required the grain and other agricultural bounty of the Emerald Isle. Several Regiments of regulars expected to be sent to reinforce the Maritimes against the threatened rebellion were diverted.

Hundreds of Fenians would be arrested, tried quickly and largely dispatched to Austria on the next prison ship.

Still, the threat brought to the fore the many problems of the British military situation which were barely being addressed by the government.

Gladstone made the monumental error of formally proposing that Parliament investigate and debate THE CONCEPT of granting Ireland Home Rule.

Within days, the government collapsed. The Liberal Party was split down the middle and Disraeli's Tories no less so. Disraeli had to withdraw his support to the government, which effectively doomed it.

Queen Victory, elated with the self-destruction of the loathed Gladstone, would call for new elections for the 2nd time in just over a year. This was rare but not unheard of. Few would question the Queen's opinion that the Parliament had not failed to organize Her Government over the past years.

This was the advantage that Disraeli needed. He reached out to a number of Liberals and convinced them to switch allegiance over the next year.

He platformed on "reform" in Ireland....but was vague on what that meant, extending the franchise (a popular topic) and calling upon public scorn of the French and Russians (though he tended to leave out the Americans).

By the time of the election, the Tories were looking at a moderate majority in the House of Commons and a better one by inviting the Radicals to the table.

In one act, Gladstone had immolated his once-dominant Liberal Party.
Lee does have a tendency to charge uphill against a fortified position. But the French don't know that in this world.

Hopefully Jeb Stuart doesn't waste time joyriding.
Lee does have a tendency to charge uphill against a fortified position. But the French don't know that in this world.

Hopefully Jeb Stuart doesn't waste time joyriding.
That is a bit uncharitable to Jeb Stuart.
Jeb Stuart got cut off from lee army and he also had the job of capturing union supply waggons due to lees poor logistics.
On June 28th, Stuart’s cavalry crossed the Potomac River into Rockville, Maryland, where they captured a wagon train of more than 100 fully loaded wagons https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/lees-cumbersome-cavalry
Lee this time is not under the same pressure for a quick victory.
Chapter 53
September, 1864


Throughout the past year, Lincoln had first been forced to keep the British Ambassador's (still technically the "Deputy" as the Queen had not seen fit to formally replace good Lord Lyons) mansion under armed guard of an entire squad of experienced soldiers for his own protection.

After the first (and second) burning of New York, not to mention the other cities, Lincoln had the gentleman and his family moved to a local fortification, again for his own safety.

To the President's surprise, the (Deputy) Ambassador arrived at his door asking for an immediate audience with His Excellency. Given that the man hadn't darkened Lincoln's door since the breakdown of the last peace talks in Madrid, the President offered him a short meeting.

To Lincoln's surprise, the man fell over himself in sputtering out that Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, had been pleased to invite His Excellency, President Lincoln, to partake in peace negotiations once again sponsored by the Queen of Spain. As a sign of good faith, Her Majesty's government under First Lord of the Treasury Disraeli would unilaterally offer an armistice of all offensive operations on the part of her subjects effective immediately in hopes that President Lincoln would do the same. If he were to agree, the armistice would last until the following Spring, expiring April 1st.

Lincoln did not see any reason to even request to speak before Congress. It was the President's authority to commit to such actions and he immediately prepared a document with a formal reply in the affirmative to Her Majesty.

Until that moment, Lincoln had not known that Disraeli was officially the new First Lord of the Treasury though he knew of the coming election, of course, via various sources and that the Tories were expected to win in a landslide.

He had already finished the response when his cabinet and inner advisors arrived to answer his summons.

"It seems that we have another peace, gentlemen," Lincoln informed them without preamble, "at least for six months." He then shared the document with Seward, Halleck and the others. An uproar of conversation had to be brought under control of the President.

"I don't know if this will lead to a real peace, nor if the Queen's government is yet willing to accept that Quebec Canada and the lands west are gone from them forever. This had been determined by force of arms and by treaty with our new neighbors to the north whom we've enticed to accept Independence on the promise we would not allow a peace in which they were threatened by British retribution," Lincoln concluded.

"But, even if this IS a ruse or a false-hope of peace, it is an opportunity we must take," He went on. "The economy is barely holding, our niter stores are shrinking despite turning over every dung-pile and raking guano from every cave. We need a moment to catch our breath as a nation and resume trade."

"Preferably BEFORE the election," Seward commented.

Lincoln cocked his head, "That too, Seward. And this time, I'd like YOU to sail to Madrid and lead the negotiation personally. You know what is acceptable as well as I, god knows we've discussed it enough. I have trust in you entirely."

The President then turned to eye Halleck and the Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. "It is also an opportunity to deal with our OTHER problem without fear of the Royal Navy interfering. I want a plan by tomorrow morning laying out how we are going to get additional soldiers and ships down to Veracruz and put an end to the Emperor's little colonial adventure.....preferably wrapping it up by April 1st just in case our next round of talks in Madrid bears no greater fruit than before. Just remember, a hundred men in Mexico today is worth a thousand tomorrow. A creaky old rowboat challenging the French in Veracruz Harbor today is better than a fleet tomorrow."

"We must move FAST, gentlemen, else we let this rare chance to get away."


In the end, it was the French that broke first. Rather wait any longer, the French Commander would order four regiments to charge downhill at the American position. This was, in fact, a distraction as he sent most of is reserves and cavalry in a flanking maneuver inland with the intention of crushing his enemy in a pincer.

Unfortunately for him, Lee was far too canny to see past the obvious ploy.

Instead, he arranged one heavy Brigade of Americans (2 Marylander Regiments and the 2nd Colored Regiment) under his friend and second in command George Thomas and most of his Mexican allies along the line where he finally pulled out the six Gatling guns his army had painstakingly hauled all the way from Texas. Over the months of the trek, Lee would periodically order the guns inspected and tested and was horrified as to how often the guns jammed in the humidity and dust of eastern Mexico. He ordered the guns cleaned every single day since the army halted before Veracruz and was gratified to see all six in working condition as the French made their frontal assault on Lee's position. The American artillery had ceased attempting to bombard the French heights and instead had been pulled back and interspersed with the infantry. The cannon would fire heavy balls until the enemy reached 300 yards, then switched to shell and, if they made it far enough, would switch to canister.

Backed by American repeating rifles (Winchesters, Sharpes and Spencers), Lee proved once again that the old broad infantry charge and volley system had gone the way of the Dodo. The French again retreated with heavy casualties.

To counter the expected flanking movement, Lee had dispatched the able former Confederate Thomas Jackson, whose rapid maneuvers led to his force crashing to the French flanking force in THEIR flank. Within moments, the maneuver had collapsed and the French and Junta troops retreating in confusion.

Now, it was Lee who charged forward. Suspecting that the enemy had expended his own reserves, Lee ordered a general counterattack all along the line. While over half of the Americans possessed rifles without bayonets, it turned out that being able to fire repeatedly at the enemy while marching was effective too.

As several Regiments broke the enemy line, it became apparent that the Americans would take the field. The French and "Junta" Mexicans withdrew as best they could, leaving 1500 casualties, 2000 prisoners and much of their artillery and supply train. Even the General's personal baggage fell to the Americans as the senior officers were delighted as the remarkable selection of French wines it possessed.

The French stumbled back through the gates of Veracruz, harassed by Jeb Stuart's and Mexican patriot cavalry all the way.

Within three days, the city of Veracruz had been surrounded and besieged from the landward side. Lee lack siege artillery to level the city but knew that cutting off the rest of Mexico from its only port was almost as good.

The following week, Lee was delighted to find the advance cavalry dispatched from Grant arriving with the news that James Longstreet and his reinforced Brigade would be arriving a few days later. The Americans had halted momentarily in Tampico to resupply before marching south to join Lee.