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

Chapter 88
March, 1868

Former Confederate States

Six years after the defeat of the Confederacy and four since the peace with Britain and France, the South remained in economic and political turmoil.

There had been SOME improvements. The infrastructure of ports, railroads, bridges, etc. had been repaired and, in some cases, improved. Towns and cities had been rebuilt.

Agricultural production had grown from the stagnant war years.

However, the loss of so much of the former enslaved workforce had caused great grief in the region. There simply was no easy way as yet (nor would there be for decades) of removing the cotton fiber from the plants except by arduous manual labor. The next census would not be until 1870 but it was already estimated that 1.25 million of the Confederate-era 3.5 million slaves had departed the region. That didn't even count the number of Freedmen who moved to new territories (future states) carved FROM the old Confederacy like Kanawha, Nickajack, Calusa, Mescalero, Aranama and Wichita.

Oddly, the labor price for picking cotton by free sharecroppers, once fully calculated, would not be much higher than the slave-era plantation labor cost. One didn't have to spend hundreds of dollars to purchase a slave only to have them die or run away. The plantation owners also didn't have to pay for housing, food and care for slaves during the relatively quiet "down months" when the seed wasn't being sown or the crop harvested.

Slavery had been profitable.....but so could free labor for the landowners. However, the quantity of laborers on hand continued to drop year after year.

Reconstruction (or Yankee "Occupation") varied somewhat by state. Some of the Northern Confederate States like Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina were quietly taking advantage of the Reconstruction. The economies of Tennessee and Virginia in particular as much resembled ante-bellum northern states as southern.

But certain holdouts remained. The Southern whites in Georgia, what was left of Florida (the southern half split off into Calusa), South Carolina and Alabama were particularly resistant to any Reconstruction efforts beyond fixing their infrastructure (even that often drew resentment).

Attempts to settle Freedmen on small plots of land often drew Raiders throughout the night. Thousands of black homes, schools and churches had been burned to the ground. Union military governors would be ordered to hunt down these "Night-raiders" without mercy. The predominantly black 150,000 man occupation army would not hesitate to do so. Ringleaders were arrested and imprisoned (if they survived "arrest" by outraged black soldiers). That all of this was counter-productive was beside the point. The southern whites didn't want Freedmen around....but also could not survive without their labor.

By 1868, several Confederate States had not even been allowed to reform their State Legislatures so they may vote formally approve the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments (no longer necessary as adequate numbers of states had approved them but Lincoln insisted that the individual states approve as a matter of course). President Lincoln had high hopes that Tennessee and Texas might serve as examples for the other states but black vote suppression had forced the government to annul the Tennessee ballots (naturally, the opposition would cry foul).

In other cases, internal political rivalries within the southern states not related to white and black relations would spring up. The creation of the future states of Kanawha and Nickajack was but a continuation of structural differences within states which often had been ongoing for centuries. The plantation-dominated lowlands and predominantly white highlands had long been at one another's throats politically. Even if the "mountain peoples" of the Appalachians didn't care a bit about slavery, they DID care about being politically dominated by coastal elites.

Almost as notable as the split between east and west in Virginia-Kanawha and Tennessee-NIckajack was the political division between north and south in Alabama. Most of the northern Alabaman counties had rejected secession in 1860 but that did not stop their southern kin from abandoning the Union. Had Union troops been available in 1860 in Northern Alabama as they had been in Western Virginia and Eastern Tennessee, there may have been another new state carved from the rebel stronghold.

While north and south Alabama was economically and structurally not QUITE as different East and West Virginia, the political divide was every bit as deep. Northern Alabama preferred the Bell's Unionist platform in 1860, not the radical South's secession plan. This would result in years of finger-pointing and, in some cases, outright glee on the part of the Northern Alabamans in seeing the troubles of their Southern Alabamans in losing their workforce. Indeed, only lightly populated Florida and Louisiana (proximate to new territories giving away land and supplies to Freedmen) would lose a higher proportion of their Ante-bellum black populations.

By 1868, the political divide between north and south Alabama over resources, the "Night-raiders" and willingness to abide by Union rules towards readmission to the Union had become as much a factor of personal political vendettas after years of abuse than any realistic structural reason.

In 1867, the northern counties would issue a referendum on seceding from Alabama which would pass with a surprising 67% majority. This referendum was non-binding and only allowed with the permission of the military governor who found the Nightraiders, led by southern Alabaman elites, detestable.

The result was forwarded to Washington where President Lincoln was unsure what to do about the matter. He had already agreed to split off Kanawha and Nickajack, but that was during the war years. Texas had been divided AFTER the war but that was also a huge state with wide swathes of open land in the north and west. It made sense there.

But would THIS lead to endless redrawing of state maps every time an internal political dispute arose within a state? Is this the legacy Lincoln wanted to leave to his successors?

In the end, Lincoln referred the issue to Congress, essentially passing the buck in his Lame Duck year. In truth, the President doubted that the measure would pass and, if so, probably not be implemented for the 1868 election.

He would prove to be wrong on the last part.

However, he was right that this would lead to an unnecessary (in Lincoln's eyes) politicization of what he considered to be a legal issue. Some Democrats would wail of more "Gerrymandering" by the Republicans while Republicans wondered why they should create ANOTHER southern state which would probably vote Democrat anyway. Did America WANT two more Democrat Senators in Congress. That was the likely result.

This would prove to be one of those rare extremely contentious bits of legislation which somehow got out of committee and voted on in a relatively short period of time. With 60% of the vote in both Houses, the measure passed in March.

Naturally, many southern Alabamans condemned this measure as an attack on them.....while just as many would publicly rejoice at the severing of their buffoonish northern kin. The northern Alabamans, perhaps not expecting their referendum to be taken seriously, much less approved, found themselves organizing the election of a state legislature for a new "Territory" which had yet to have a name.

A hasty election was called for the sweltering June to embody a State Legislature which would review the new Constitutional Amendments. It would also bear a referendum as to what to call this new State. After a short debate, the committee nearly settled on "North Alabama" but, in the end, wanted a clean slate from "Alabama". Cahaba and Coosa, these being the main rivers of northern Alabama which fed into the Alabama River to the south, were chosen to bring to the voters directly. Cahaba, which ran nearer to the new State Capital of Birmingham, would chosen with 56% of the vote.

The Maritimes - British North America

Since the defeat of Great Britain in the "American War", the fate of the three remaining British colonies on North America's mainland had been hotly debated. Given the overwhelming regional population superiority of the aggrandized United States, the Disraeli Government would seek any advantage he could get in keeping the remainder of British North America under the Queen's dainty hand. In 1867, the Disraeli government would encourage the three remaining colonies - New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland - to unite into a single nation.

However, the colonial governments would reject this out of hand. Even the idea of a Confederation leaving each colony to handle much of their own affairs was too much for Newfoundland.

Thus, the initiative went nowhere.

Due to the commerce raiding already common by early 1868, the three British North American colonies were trading more with America than Britain.


Throughout 1867, the violence in Haiti only escalated as Queen Isabella approved a method to increase the number of troops in Hispaniola without having to pay for them. Still considered the "Pearl of the West Indies", the once most lucrative land on earth was hardly wealthy these days but the reputation lived on. Men cam in great numbers with the promise of 100 acre plots in prime Haitian Coffee and Sugar plantations. They came from Spain, the Dominican, Cuba, Portugal, Italy, Puerto Rico and the South and Central American mainland.

In early 1868, the Queen formally withdrew any recognition or promises of respecting land ownership in Haiti. All land was to be redistributed to her servants who fought in her name. The "Dominican Republic" had been formally abolished in favor of the united "Colony of Hispaniola".

This indeed brought tens of thousands more men into the Queen's service, men willing to do anything for their reward. The influx was necessary as the French, in 1867, withdrew their remaining 2000 French Foreign Legionnaires (and the 3000 still in the Rio Plata Region) back to Africa to assist in the subjugation of Morocco.

The carnage by 1868 was inconceivable. Virtually any male Haitian over the age of 10 would be killed outright by the marauding bands of mercenaries. Even the Conquistadores of old were never so ruthless. Women of breeding age and children were taken back east into the former Dominican as "servants". Other women would be claimed as "war brides" by the various soldiers and forced into servitude in the army.

Disease and starvation ran rampant. The elderly and young, left to their own devices, were usually the first to succumb.

Faustin II remained in his inland fortress while over half the population of pre-war Haiti had been exterminated directly or indirectly by the invaders still marching inexorably inland with their Chassepots, Dreyse Needle guns and Winchesters. Lacking any real weaponry, the Haitians resort to fighting with bows, spears and axes.

The result was nothing short of predictable. The Haitian men were utterly slaughtered. Killed wherever found, adult males were often outnumbers in various districts by Haitian women by a factor of up to 10 to 1.
Chapter 89
May, 1868


Gambling that the British would be unwilling or unable to dispatch forces to Morocco in any numbers, the French army marched against the King of Morocco, crushing them in several battles as Fez, Tangiers and other cities fell under French sway.

While the French army had largely stood down since the "Prussian War", the system of rapid deployment adopted from the Prussian General Staff over the recent years paid dividends. As Napoleon III had no real interest in invading Britain nor did he fear an invasion BY Britain, that allowed him to use his superior forces on the offensive in the Mediterranean.

In 1866, both the French and British Armies numbered roughly 200,000. However, this is deceptive as nearly 60,000 of the British forces were stationed in India and another 30,000 in the Maritimes, the West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, South Africa, etc. Another 30,000 remained in Ireland as garrison troops against an insurrection.

This meant that relatively few experienced British troops were available for European conflict.

France, meanwhile, maintained the majority of her 200,000 (roughly 3/4's) on French soil as well has having several hundred thousand veterans of the Prussian War on hand for rapid callup. Fearing no British invasion, the Emperor was able to dispatch as many troops as necessary to conquer Morocco.

While Morocco had not been an aggressor in this war, the truth was that, otherwise, the French soldiers would be sitting around doing not much of anything while a predominantly naval war was waged around them.

The invasion of Morocco was carefully planned to allow for a strictly land campaign in which there was no guarantee that supplies could be brought in via sea should the British gain full command of the Mediterranean (not an unrealistic consideration).

The Arab-Berber cavalry armies had once been the scourge of Christendom. No more.

By 1868, the French army had largely upgraded their infantry to Chassepot Rifles and Krupp Cannon. This would prove devastating to the sword-wielding Berber cavalry. In short order, the King of Morocco's forces would be routed and pressed further west. 35,000 French soldiers would march northwest to Rabat and Casablanca where the cities would face a siege from the landward side for the first time in memory.

The King of Morocco would retreat to Marrakesh, hoping to find some sort of sanctuary. Largely cut off from the sea, there seemed to be no realistic chance of victory.


Months after their drubbing at Corfu, the French fleet gathered at Marseille for another go. Armed with three new ironclad ships fresh from the shipyard, the fleet would sail to Corfu for another round with the British (most of their "ally" Russia's fleet remained in the eastern Mediterranean).

Numerous reports would hold that the British Royal Naval resources in the Mediterranean remained near Corfu. This made since as, without heavy naval resources, Corfu could not be defended. Gibraltar and Malta, on the other hand, could withstand a lengthy siege until help arrived.

Led by the new flagship, Ocean, the French sailed for Corfu with 8 of their precious ironclads and sixteen smaller or older vessels. There would be no trailing invasion fleet as of yet. If the naval battle was lost, an invasion was impossible. If control of the waters was won by the French, then a land invasion could proceed later.


The Democratic Caucus would convene in Baltimore on April 25th. As expected, candidates for the Presidential Ballot would be lighter than most elections. Stephen Douglas, a Democrat power-broker through and through but also a committed Unionist, begged off for "health" reasons.

Horatio Seymour, former governor of New York, also expressed no interest in the nomination and actually withdrew from his chairmanship of the

One of the few Highly-ranked generals loyal to the Democrats, Winfield Scott Hancock, had been assigned to the Department of the Pacific where he stated "he was not prepared to enter civilian life as of yet".

Given that the Republicans were expected to win in a landslide regardless of who ran, this was hardly a surprise. Even the most optimistic figures had the Republicans winning 60% of the electoral votes. Pessimistic figures projected closer to 90%.

The economy had largely recovered in the past two years. Even the outbreak of war in Europe had not severely damaged the nation. The rapid expansion of the mining and textile industries of the north would consume a large number of workers while the reduction in transportation would ensure that southern cotton disproportionately went to northern mills and the flood of immigrants to the cities would slow to a trickle for a year or two.

The debt was slowly but steadily being reduced. People were moving westward to better lives in droves.

Best of all (or worst for the Democrats), Lincoln received great public support for his handling of this new war and keeping America's borders safe while also remaining neutral.

Just as disastrously for the Democrats, the party remained largely regarded as a "pro-secessionist or Copperhead" party. This would not be a good thing in the polls.

With the strongest potential candidates effectively running from the office, that left the door open for the oddest options:

Clement Vallendigham had been a Congressman from Ohio who led the Copperhead faction of the Midwest which was pro-slavery and even considered secession themselves. Exiled to Canada, the man had done little the past few years beyond condemning the government in newspaper column. Even most northern Democrats considered him a traitor. He may have found some support among Southern electors in the previous system....but those electors had yet to receive back their right to vote.

Another small faction was led by Salmon Chase. A Republican for a decade, a Whig before that and a longtime anti-slavery campaigner, Chase would point out that the Freedmen were going to get equal rights eventually and there was no point to fighting it. By voting for Chase, the Party may get back a number of the Unionist Democrat vote lost over the past eight years.

In truth, neither of these men were overly popular candidates and the Democratic Caucus would spend weeks seeking a mainstream candidate with at least a chance to win. However, one after another (Seymour was so besieged by supporters that he left the Convention on the pretext of "a family illness").

So egregious was the lack of qualified candidates that the Caucus decided on a bizarre course of action. They would nominate the last two Democratic Presidents, the aged Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire and James Buchanan of Pennsylvania. Neither had any significant part of politics for the past eight years and would not only refuse but laugh at the idea of running again. However, the Caucus accepted that there was no chance in winning the Presidency in 1868 but there was a chance to avoid a slaughter of down-ballot Democrats in Congress if they had two well-known names at the top, ones that lacked the personal loathing of the few men who wanted the office.

On June 3rd, after nearly 6 weeks of internal negotiations, the Democrats opted for Pierce for President and Buchanan for Vice-President.

Of course, the entire business would be for naught as hearing the news caused Pierce to suffer an immediate heart attack and the old man expired immediately. News never reached Buchanan at all as the Pennsylvanian had died on June 1st of a stroke (the news had been delayed by a telegraph line in Pennsylvania out of commission for over a week after a late spring snowstorm.

The Caucus was on the verge of breaking up when they received the news. Embarrassed, those still in attendance would finally chose between the two men willing to admit to wanting the office.

The choice, by a narrow margin, was the traitor and secessionist Clement Vallendigham. Upon hearing this, Salmon Chase deemed the Democratic Party beyond redemption and returned to the Republicans (knowing his political future was largely over, he remained on the Supreme Court for the rest of his life).

Even the most partisan Democratic papers launched a series of editorials that it would have been better for the Party to simply no field a candidate than field one which had been a traitor to his country. Even those in agreement with Vallendigham's actions knew he would severely damage the Party prospects down the ballot.

Winfield Scott Hancock, now commanding the Army of the Pacific, would be quoted widely stating that he should have hanged Vallendigham in Canada when he had him in 1863. He also stated he would not be voting in the 1868 election if THIS was the best the Democrats could do.
Map of North America - 1868
Fenians - 1868 - North America.png
So Haiti is basically like Paraguay from OTL’s Paraguay War, at least for death toll. Also, how is the French army not suffering catastrophic attrition? They’re marching through desert and mountains with a logistics train stretching hundreds to thousands of kilometers and no naval or railroad to help resupply them. Not to mention attacks on convoys from Moroccan/Berber insurgents. It sounds like the French are just walking around Morocco without worrying about ammunition or water or heat. Honestly the British should just shell Algiers and a few other coastal cities and then watch the French armies die off and retreat.
Chapter 90
June, 1868


Despite a crowded field, William Seward would be nominated with relative ease in the Republican Caucus. In truth, his most dangerous potential competitor never showed up.

Ulysses S. Grant had spent nearly two years in Europe with his wife. In the middle of this tour, Grant would be shot by a French madman and spent several months in recovery. He would go on with his tour but return to Italy to testify at the Frenchman's trial. The General would move the Court with a request that the man be treated as ill than a criminal and that the Hanging be put aside as a penalty.

Embarrassed that such a foreign dignitary was injured on their soil, the Italian Court agreed to place the man in an institution. The French Consul, in the awkward position of making sure a national scandal was given a fair trial, was relieved at the judgement and complimented Grant on his mercy.

The Grants were due to return to America when the General suddenly collapsed in Madrid. At first, it was feared he'd contracted Typhoid or some other illness but it would turn out that the assassin's bullet (which had never been removed) had shifted and caused internal bleeding. A local Doctor, ironically an Englishman practicing in Madrid, would proceed with a second surgery to staunch the bleeding and this time remove the bullet.

Grant would spend several months recovering and get to know many of the local Spanish commanders and, most especially, his Doctor.

By the time Grant finally returned to America, the Caucus was over and the General's Presidential ambitions were postponed. Grant had been advised by political allies to absent himself for several months or longer prior to the Caucus so his name would not be associated with any unpopular or controversial positions. This backfired rather spectacularly as the Republicans were not going to select a man for the highest office who may not live to see America again.

Thus, Seward's greatest rival was the intelligent, dignified, hard-working and loyal Vice-President Hannibal Hamlin of Maine. Unfortunately for the latter, Hamlin was also rather bland and less capable of political machinations than Seward.

However, in a bid to gain Party unity, Seward called for Hamlin to remain on the ballot as Vice-President. Well liked, this compromise would easily be accepted by the Caucus as a whole.

In truth, Seward was closer to Hamlin in politics than Lincoln himself. The two were even considered distant friends. The New Yorker would not hesitate to have Hamlin carrying on the Party duty in the Senate.

In the meantime, the Democrats gave the Republicans another gift: After the fiasco in which both Pierce and Buchanan died within days of the announcement that THEY were the new ticket, the Democrats would select former Ohio Congressman Clement Vallendigham for President and another former Ohio Copperhead Congressman George Pendleton as his Vice-Presidential candidate.

With the economy still solid, Seward was felling pretty comfortable with his party's chances in November.


The First Lord of the Treasury knew that two great battles were imminent....if they hadn't occurred already. All intelligence reports from France indicated that the Emperor's forces were massing near Marseille for an assault on Corfu (this had, in fact, already occurred).

Also, eight weeks prior, the formal orders for the British forces in India to invade French-held Siam were shipped. If the Commander-in-Chief of India had his forces ready to ship on a moment's notice, it would take less than a week for that fleet to reach Siam (again, this had already happened).

All Disraeli could do is wait. The results of those battles would determine the fate of the war.

The only comfort to be had at the moment was that the last two significant French possessions in the Americas had fallen: Martinique and Guadeloupe.

French Guyana, effectively defenseless, had been sold to the Dutch in the early days of the war. The Dutch Navy, such as it was, was present when the Royal Navy squadron, oblivious to the situation, sailed into Cayenne to find Dutch ships and the Dutch flag flying. The new Dutch governor of the 25,000 soul territory would invite the Royal Navy officers to the first formal dance under Dutch rule.

Later historians would believe that the French Emperor pressed the Dutch to take it to avoid losing face when the Royal Navy inevitably seized the territory. Nominally, the Dutch paid several million francs for the territory but, in reality, the Emperor agreed not to strong-arm the Dutch to his side in the current war.

It would be over a week until Disraeli learned of the battle in the Mediterranean and a nearly six before word arrived of what occurred in Siam.

Ionian Islands

The 2nd battle of Corfu would be even more hotly contested than the first. Having realized the weakness of their armor on several classes of French ironclads, the French attempted to compensate by adding on several more inches of armor....or even hanging chainmail....over the sides of their lighter ships. It was probably better than nothing.

In the age of the ironclads, the adage was quickly passed about that the most powerful navy was the one which had just launched the latest (and most modern) ship. In June of 1868, this was France (the Ocean).

With the ocean leading a fleet of 9 ironclads (all but two of the French Ironclads available for European service in 1868) and 12 smaller or older ships, the French fleet sailed directly for Corfu, arriving on June 3rd.

As expected, the British fleet was waiting with 6 ironclads and 18 smaller or older ships.

There would be no complex maneuvers: the French simply sailed forward and met the British line 20 miles southwest of Corfu.

The Ocean, leading the attack, would badly wound two British ironclads which steadfastly steamed on to return fire at the next French ship in line. The use of steam power had reduced the age-old advantage in British seamanship....but not gunnery. The British were still the most efficient gunners in the world and their navy had replaced the underpowered and prone to jam Armstrong Breechloading cannon with older model but more reliable and powerful muzzleloaders.

In short order, the British accuracy, rate of fire and superior armor was starting to tell. The Province-class Magnanime would suffer a major blow directly below their armored belt and begin to list almost immediately. She fell out of line. Two smaller French ships at the rear of the line would be wrecked and set aflame by British fire.

However, the heavy French guns gave as well as they got. The heavy Minotaur and Black Prince suffered damage and two aged wooden ships of the line were set ablaze.

Within an hour, all order would collapse as the battle became a brawl. The Ocean concentrated on the Black Prince, the second heavy British ironclad ever built and set her ablaze after multiple rounds of the heavy (472 pound) shells penetrated the British ship's hull. Despite a brilliant system of bulkheads, the Black Prince began to take on water.

However, the Ocean would soon meet her own fate as the HMS Northumberland sped forward to plunger her ram into the Ocean's hull. Almost immediately, it was apparent that the French design of isolated compartments did not match the quality of the British. The Ocean would fall away, blasting all the time into the Northumberland.

After 14 hours, the battle ended due to a combination of mutual exhaustion and darkness.

Daylight would find that six French Ironclads had been sunk, burned to the waterline or scuttled in addition to six older ships. Among the lost was the Ocean, which had attempted to sail for home the previous night but would sink off of Italy at midnight. Most of the remaining French fleet had been battered and was running low on coal, powder and shot. The rear Admiral in command would order the French survivors to retreat for Marseille to lick their wounds.

The British, while "holding the field", would suffer as well. The Black Prince, the Northumberland and the HMS Ocean (not the same vessel as the French flagship) would be lost. The Black Prince sank the previous day while the Northumberland, filled with holes, would yield overnight. The HMS Ocean was set aflame late in the battle but the crew had thought to have put them out. However, smoldering embers ignited several shells and a huge hole was blasted in her side. Only a small portion of the crew would be saved before she capsized and sank.

Overall, it was a tactical French victory....but a terrible British strategic defeat for the Russians and Greeks had snuck across to Corfu as the battle waged and landed 6000 soldiers. For several days, the allies pushed forward until they could emplace their heavy guns over the harbor. With the Greek population rising up to assist, the small British garrison knew it could not hold. The base was abandoned and the British steamed out carrying all their personnel.

The returning Royal Navy fleet, battered as it was, immediately forced away the Russian and Greek ships (they didn't pursue) but knew that regaining the actual island would require an invasion force not readily available. Besieging the islands would seem pointless as food supplies were more than adequate to hold on for the time being.

Thus, the British fleet retreated to Malta.


The Royal Navy was not done yet.

Three British Ironclads had been stationed in the Channel to protect against invasion. By June, the HMS Pallas (which had been in drydock) was fully repaired and the new HMS Penelope had just been crewed.

This brought the British Channel fleet up to five ironclads (to zero for the French) along the channel. Seeing no reason to let them sit, the Admiralty would dispatch all five plus a dozen heavily-gunned wooden ships of the line to Brest, the primary French harbor and base in the region. Most of the French fleet had fled the port earlier in the war so they could consolidate in the Mediterranean. The port was left to her own defense.

This would prove inadequate as the heavy British guns would silence the harbor defenses better equipped for the naval artillery of a previous age. Dozens of merchant ships were taken while the fortifications razed. Though it was not intended, a great fire broke out in the city and burned nearly a quarter of Brest to the ground.

The Atlantic

With the ironclads making the older wooden vessels obsolete in line of battle, both France and Britain deployed many of the smaller, faster vessels towards commerce raiding. As France had few colonies left by 1868 (and losing them all) in the New World, the quantity of French ships sailing to the Americas was lower than one may expect. Still, the British managed to intercept and seize over 150 French vessels in the Atlantic during this time, prize crews gathering cargos of American cotton and Grain, Brazilian sugar and rubber and Argentine hides.

The French, despite having far more targets to choose from among British shipping, would only seize roughly 50 British ships on the high seas. The French would also lose six of these commerce raiders to the Royal Navy while the latter lost only one commerce raider in direct battle with the French.


Though the march was arduous, the French would methodically gather supplies in the most narrow coves and harbors throughout Morocco. No doubt the Royal Navy could occupy any space it desired, that was not the same as occupying EVERY SPACE it desired. The rise of the ironclad meant that Britain could not simply blockade a dozen harbors at once. As ironclads were still too few in number, than meant blockading with older, wooden ships. A single enemy ironclad may just as easily destroy the blockading squadron as sailing through it.

Using their fastest merchant vessels, supplies from France followed the French march west.

By Summer, the exhausted French armies had seized all the major cities save Marrakech.


As the British rather expected, the French did not bother attempting to break the British blockade or halt the inevitable invasion from India.

In June, 8000 British and 7000 Indian (mostly Muslims or Sikhs from Regiments which had been raised with the understanding they may be utilized abroad), were deposited on shore of the Chao Phraya River. The heavy British ships could only sail so far up the estuary. However, lighter British ships were able to silences some of the French gun emplacements along the shoreline.

The French, knowing they could not prevent the initial landing, opted to defend Bangkok in depth.

The battle of Siam had finally begun.
Minor quip, would Seward really pick Hamlin as his running mate here? Running mates are usually picked for regional balance. A Seward/Hamlin ticket would see two North Easterns on the ticket, leaving the west out. Wouldn't it be more likely he'd pick a westerner? Just something I felt I should point out.
Chapter 91
July, 1868


President Lincoln would dispatch his Secretary of State, William Seward, to Europe for two reasons:

1. Lincoln hoped that Seward could talk the British and French into attending a peace conference in Washington.
2. It was considered traditional for candidates for high office to remain at home while others canvassed for them. During elections, candidates had the tendency to LOSE MORE VOTES than they gained via their own mouths. With Seward off the continent, this would ensure that nothing negative would come from the Secretary of State's own words. If he managed to convene a peace conference, so much the better.

South Africa


The British had largely conceded the autonomy of the Transvaal and Orange Free State years prior. However, the discovery of diamonds along the border of British South Africa while Natal and the Cape Colony remained under British control.

However, the discover of diamonds in 1866 near the norther border of Cape Colony and Western Border of the Transvaal would upset the balance of power between Boers and the British.

Over the past year, the Boers had reached out to the French for aid. Napoleon III was willing to help but the French European fleet was tied up in the Mediterranean. However, seeing that the French Pacific Squadron dare not act against the superior British fleet in the Indian Ocean, the Emperor took yet another chance and ordered his timid French Pacific fleet to sail south towards Natal, which had been conquered by the British in 1843 and much of the Boer population had fled north to the Orange Free State and Transvaal.

In secret orders to the French commander (known only to a few in Paris), the Emperor informed the French that the Boers would declare war upon the British on June 1st and drive for beaches of Durban by July.

Given the less than ideal circumstances, the chances of a French invasion fleet from Vietnam reaching Durban at the same time as a Boer army was somewhat unlikely. However, that was more or less what happened.

The French fleet, sighted passing Singapore, was assumed to be sailing for Siam. However, it turned south and reached Durban but a few days after the Boers had reached the coast.

4500 French and Vietnamese soldiers disembarked and joined the Boers in marching west into Cape Colony.


The initial British invasion looked promising. Disembarking miles south of the city, the 15,000 British and Indian troops were convinced that the city was theirs for the taking. However, they had underestimated the number of troops which had been moved over the past six months via land or via harbors in southeastern Siam (the British concentrated upon the mouth of the Chao Phraya. Over 2500 more French, 4000 Vietnamese, 3000 Cambodians and 6000 Chinese Sepoys were transported through jungle trails as the British fleet sat at anchor south of Bangkok.

The Siamese had largely been crushed in the south leaving the French in command of the Capital.

By July, nearly 25,000 French and French-allied Sepoys (the name over the 1860's would come to be used by the French as well as the British) were preparing for battle against the 15,000 British.

Having had so many months to prepare, the French commander had forced the local Siamese population to dig trenches, pits, barricades, enfilades, etcetera in every conceivable approach to the city.

William Mansfield, the Commander-in-chief of British India, was obligated to try. However, the British Enfield was severely outclassed by the French Chassepots in distance, accuracy and rate of fire. In 1867, the Duke of Cambridge had....finally....approved a retrofit of the Enfields to make them breechloaders and greatly improve their rate of fire.....but few of these had reached India as of yet.

Mansfield had few good positions for his Armstrongs but would have found the French Krupps, well placed in strategic locations, a difficult nut to crack.

Mansfield opted to strike at three spots determined at weak-points by his scouts. If these could be overcome, then the overall French position would be worthless.

That was, after all, what he hoped if not exactly expected. But still, many of the French troops were Asiatics, not the match of his own British, Muslims and Sikhs.

As his army began to wither from disease in the humid jungles (most of his own men were from more arid, mountain regions, not the subcontinent's marshy Kingdoms), Mansfield knew he must attack now or be forced to retreat.

The attack was an abject disaster. Whether or not the Asiatics were the equals of British or Indian troops was not resolved. What WAS resolved was that marching in ranks towards heavily fortified positions filled with twice your number bearing weapons that could fire three to four times more bullets per minute than your men was not a winning proposition.

Suffering over 3000 casualties without achieving any of his objectives, Mansfield retreated. By this point, Mansfield only had 9000 healthy men. Then the French emerged from their fortifications and attacked.

Mansfield attempted to form ranks but this simply resulted in a slaughter. Many of the Chinese Sepoys had served in the Opium Wars for the Mandarin and seen their ranks carved to pieces by European weapons. Now, in service to the French, THEY did the massacring of White Men.

Even the discipline of the seasoned British and Indian veterans could not withstand the differential in firepower. The French Krupps would come to play from their prepared positions to deadly effect. The British were forced to retreat under the withering fire.

While successes came here and there - a Sikh regiment counterattacked against their opposite Chinese Regiment and broke them with a bayonet charge - for the most part, the British retreated to the disembarkation sites. Some of transports were still available but most had been withdrawn to avoid French fire. Gaining some measure of protection from the French naval vessels, Mansfield ordered as many regiments to board as could make the docks. He remained behind with 4000 of his men as the wounded were boarded first.

The running firefight became desperate Mansfield realized much of his powder stores had been overrun and captured. Still, the British fought on, their semicircle of a rear guard shrank as they were forced back little by little by enemy fire and the almost constant casualties incurred by the superior Chassepots. The handful of artillery guns still available would fire as if their ammunition would last forever. Mansfield considered chiding the officers but realized the swarms of attackers gave the British a good target. Besides, the shot, shells and canister of the few cannon were probably doing more than the infantry to keep the British line from being completely overrun. Hoping to survive until nighttime, Mansfield ordered an estimate of his surviving soldiers and coldly realized that he was down to two thousand, many wounded.

Just as the count came in, word arrived that the powder was almost entirely spent....and that the last of the transports had departed. None appeared to be sailing up the river to replace them.

Mansfield uttered a sigh. He supposed he was never going to get that Irish peerage.

He ordered his men to fix bayonets as soon as they fired their last rounds. The British barrage declined notably within minutes as the glint of Bayonets become more common.

Seeing the enemy reorganizing for the attack and bring forward more cannon, Mansfield signaled his surviving officers to charge forward into the seemingly endless fire of the French forces. Drawing his sword, Mansfield looked at the British, Sikhs and Muslim solders, regretting that the army had so let them down. Mansfield marched forward, not bothering to look back. He knew these brave men would be following .

Mansfield didn't make it 20 steps.

The last thought the General had was of his wife.
Minor quip, would Seward really pick Hamlin as his running mate here? Running mates are usually picked for regional balance. A Seward/Hamlin ticket would see two North Easterns on the ticket, leaving the west out. Wouldn't it be more likely he'd pick a westerner? Just something I felt I should point out.

That is usually an ideal but hardly 100%. In recent times, George W. Bush of Texas picked Dick Cheney of Wyoming. Bill Clinton of Arkansas picked Al Gore.

In this instance, I think the Republicans were almost guaranteed to sweep the election and Seward would prefer to have someone trustworthy and willing to follow the agenda he set out should Seward die in office.

The last thing the Republicans would want is a repeat of Whig William Henry Harrison dying and his VP John Tyler undermining the Whig agenda for four years. Or for that matter, OTL Lincoln dying leaving democrat Andrew Johnson to undermine Reconstruction.

Many of the "Lincoln survives" Timelines have major butterflies not just for what Lincoln WOULD DO but the fact that Johnson never got the chance TO DO from OTL 1865 to 1868.
So what is the POD that makes the French basically roll natural 20s repeatedly while the British apparently have no sense of strategy or manpower? The story has been intriguing and I’m certain you’ve put a good amount of work on it but this is turning into, “The French are awesome and the British suck at everything” with a bone thrown to the Brits once in awhile. Sorry for that likely coming off harsh, it just seems that the British just do nothing but lose at a time OTL when they were around the height of their power while the French empire was waning.
So what is the POD that makes the French basically roll natural 20s repeatedly while the British apparently have no sense of strategy or manpower? The story has been intriguing and I’m certain you’ve put a good amount of work on it but this is turning into, “The French are awesome and the British suck at everything” with a bone thrown to the Brits once in awhile. Sorry for that likely coming off harsh, it just seems that the British just do nothing but lose at a time OTL when they were around the height of their power while the French empire was waning.
The French Empire was on the rise during this time OTL only Prussia kicked it down. Also it was Britain rolling all the 20s OTL with the OTL 19th century basically being Britwank.
Chapter 92
August, 1868

Washington DC

President Lincoln would personally see off Seward on the deck of the USS Pennsylvania, which was the first of her class of ocean-going turreted ironclads. Unlike other ocean-going vessels the Pennsylvania would be among the first to be "steam only", meaning no sails.

Accompanying the Pennsylvania would be two of the Kalamazoo-class ocean going ships.

Per the agreement of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, that nation would host the event (both Britain and France desired proximity to negotiators) but Seward would be the mediator. Britain's relations with the Dutch had taken a hit when it was learned that France "sold" French Guiana to the Dutch rather than lose it to the British.

Besides, America had risen to the status of world power in recent years, while the Dutch had spent the past two centuries in decline.

Lincoln shook Seward's hand and wished him the best.

Then, the President would pay a visit to the nearby shipyards where Misters Ericsson and Whitehead had another demonstration of the torpedo.

It would seem that the capable engineers had built a new vessel....not one that was LARGER....but much smaller than most Lincoln had ever seen. Ericsson explained that this new torpedo boat's protection would not be armor but her slight size and speed. Effectively little more than an engineer with a tube atop her, the vessel relied on being hard to hit. The increased power of naval artillery ensured that a single hit by even a secondary weapon would shatter a smaller vessel. Thus, the impetus of his little ship remained speed, a shallow draft and her small size. Whitehead attributed it to trying to hit a fly with a sledgehammer.

"Tell me about these tubes?"

Whitehead beamed, "Mr. Ericsson designed those for my torpedos. The idea is to launch the torpedoes from these tubes at as great a distance from the enemy vessel as possible and....well.....run like hell."

"We've arranged a demonstration, Mr. President."

"By all means, then, gentlemen." Lincoln loved new technologies.

He was not disappointed. The first run of the "torpedo boat" would be flawless. The weapon was discharged over a hundred yards from a stricken hulk at the opposite end of the bay and, as the "torpedo boat" turned away at what had to have been 15 knots, the torpedo's aim was true and exploded beneath the waterline of the ship. It immediately began to take on water.

Lincoln could not stop clapping and requested to see the feat again. This Ericsson and Whitehead agreed and ran the test three more times......with decidedly LESS success. On one occasion, the torpedo failed to detonate upon contact. On the next, it seemed to veer off to the right while in the water and found itself beached upon a small cove hundreds of yards distance. On the third, the propulsion mechanism failed to work and the torpedo slowed to a halt after launch.

The engineers seemed embarrassed but Lincoln comforted them. "Gentlemen, for all the problems today, I can see that the future is with these weapons. Proceed to test and improve. I shall be certain that the Naval Department's budge remains untouched for....well, the next six months at least. I have no doubt Secretary Dahlgren will support as well."

The engineers thanked the President, obviously pleased and immediately turned to discuss the problems. Lincoln wisely made his escape.

In truth, Lincoln could not swear if his successor would maintain all of the Cabinet or none. While Seward would almost certainly be elected in a few months, the Secretary of State was a very different man from Lincoln and may simply desire to clean house.

By that point, Lincoln's opinion would not matter to anyone.


Three times in the first half of the 19th Century, much of city had been claimed by fires. Building codes to demand construction from stone helped but nothing could protect the city from a determined bombardment by the Royal Navy.

Over half the city had burned to the ground. See no reason to leave the city vulnerable again, the Federal, State and City governments would unite to reduce the haphazard construction which resulted in unsafe slums even when the British WEREN'T bombarding them.

Huge swathes of land were claimed by eminent domain or condemnation. Here, the park systems would be almost tripled, especially along the waterfronts (later these "walking paths" would be valued greatly by locals and tourists). In addition, block-wide swathes of land running east and west would be cleared to create "fire breaks" every few blocks that would be hundreds of yards wide. This ensured that the entire city would not go up in flames in a future attack (or just the next time a massive fire broke out).

By 1875, 41% of Manhattan would be designated "green space" although many of the "green spaces" would be used for supporting the huge equine population which kept Manhattan in motion.

Beyond that, seeking to control the slums of Manhattan which were deemed a fire hazard in the best of times (and were considered unsightly by the Island's gentry), the housing code would be restricted to three stories per building. This would vastly reduce the amount of living space and force many of the new textile and other manufacturing business (and their largely immigrant workforce) from Manhattan to neighboring cities. This immediately brought complaints to developers planning huge buildings on Manhattan of as many as 8 to 10 stories.

There were complaints that the majority of the "eminent domain" seizures were of the squalid immigrant neighborhoods. This could hardly be denied but, as the owners were compensated, the government had little problem fending off the numerous lawsuits.


Napoleon III was nearly in a panic. Over half his ironclad fleet had been sunk......in just two battles.

Yes, France had more ironclads under construction.....but the British had MORE and the British manufacturing base was awesome. In the long run, the British would win that fight.

If he knew of the events in Morocco, he would have been more worried.


Having seized much of the city from the landward side, the 10,000-strong French occupational force was settling into comfortable lodgings when word of a forest of masts arriving of shore led the French "Defenders" to rush to the city ramparts.

The French forces in Morocco had been raised to 35,000 over the past months. However, these were spread across half a dozen major cities.

The 12,000 strong British invasion force under General James Hope Grant would normally not be a direct threat to the French. However, their forces dissipated over a huge swathe of land, the British had a modest numerical advantage. More importantly, they had more artillery than the French. The British would link with 10,000 of the King of Morocco's cavalry and face the French in battle outside of Casablanca.

For once, the British did not have a significant handicap in infantry rifles as the bulk of the British infantry had been granted the remodeled Enfield-Snider breechloading rifle.

Having become accustomed to technological superiority over their long march across Morocco's interior, the exhausted French found themselves badly outnumbered with little artillery or cavalry to support them.

The one thing they knew they DIDN'T want to do was be trapped in the city for two reasons:

1. The same Royal Navy Squadron which had devastated Brest the previous month had finally arrived in the Mediterranean and proceeded to wipe out the French supply ships feeding the French armies in Casablanca, Rabat, Tangiers, etc. It was uncertain if there would be any French response at sea.

2. If the French forces WERE trapped in a city, it was highly questionable if the Moroccans would accept a surrender. More than likely, the Berbers would seek revenge for the past months of invasion.

Of course, fighting in the relative "open" meant that the British and Moroccans could make better use of their cavalry and superior numbers. The French would retreat to Rabat, hoping the 5000 man garrison there could assist in battling the British. Once, they made it to Rabat, the French deemed retreat to Tangier and further consolidation of their forces more prudent.

The retreat would often be a fighting one, as the French were harassed constantly by Moroccan cavalry, thus slowing them down and allowing the British infantry to catch up. Then the French would leave skirmishers behind in hopes of gaining a lead in what was rapidly becoming a route.


The French officers gathered together and whispered of their dismal supply situation. Powder did not travel well in the jungle and most of the French soldiers and even the Asiatic Sepoys were not faring well in this steamy climate.

The Battle of Bangkok had been a great victory. But the tenuous supply line had not been improved as the Royal Navy continued to keep up its blockade. An assortment of messages had been sent over the past weeks to Europe, usually on "neutral" ships. Many of these would likely be stopped by the Royal Navy and the messages destroyed by the courier lest they fall into British hands. But some would probably make it through to Paris to explain that the situation remained dire in Siam.

As for support from the French Navy?

The Army had been informed that there would be no effort to break the blockade. Besides, the French ships were busy elsewhere. No one in Siam had a clue where.

Durban, Natal

Having dispatched several thousand French and Vietnamese Sepoys onto Natal's beaches, there was a short-lived sense of victory. However, the arrival of thousands of Boer soldiers, good horsemen and partisans all, did little to assuage French anxiety when it became apparent that most of the British Army in South Africa, perhaps 10,000 strong, plus an unknown number of Cape Colony militia, were even now marching across the borders of Natal.

What was more, none of the French ships which had escorted this invasion force were among the most powerful in the French Navy.

And certainly not a match for the heavy Royal Navy Ironclads based in India (and the Siamese blockade).

There was no doubt that adequate time had passed for the British loyalists in the Cape to send a message to Calcutta, Madras or wherever the hell the British fleet was. The British response would likely be measured in weeks, not months.
So what is the POD that makes the French basically roll natural 20s repeatedly while the British apparently have no sense of strategy or manpower? The story has been intriguing and I’m certain you’ve put a good amount of work on it but this is turning into, “The French are awesome and the British suck at everything” with a bone thrown to the Brits once in awhile. Sorry for that likely coming off harsh, it just seems that the British just do nothing but lose at a time OTL when they were around the height of their power while the French empire was waning.

Well, I tried to present in my TL that the British Naval forces were spread across the world.

Britain had to defend the Channel islands, fight in the West Indies, fight in Siam and protect five bases in the Mediterranean. This may have been possible fifty years earlier when the huge Royal Navy seemed to be everywhere at once and the superiority of numbers was exceeded only by the superiority in seamanship.

However, the rise of ironclads in the 1860's would temporarily give a level of parity to the French in numbers and quality.

Per wikipedia, the entirely of the Royal Navy's ironclads constructed by 1868 are below:

This amounts to a total of 27 Ironclads built. My TL has several being lost in the American war, several always under refit or repair and several being posted in the West Indies and India.

This would leave the effective strength of the British fleet in Europe (both the Channel Fleet and the Mediterranean) at roughly 15 or so ironclads. As Britain could not leave the Channel unprotected, several of these would not be available in the Mediterranean.

Sea-going ironclads (1860–1888)[edit]

  • Warrior class broadside ironclads
    • Warrior (1860) - Preserved Portsmouth
    • Black Prince (1861) - Renamed Emerald 1903, renamed Impregnable III 1910, sold for BU 1923
  • Defence classbroadside ironclads
    • Defence (1861) - Renamed Indus 1898; hulked 1922; sold for BU 1935
    • Resistance (1861) - Sold 1898; foundered 1899; raised and BU
  • Hector classbroadside ironclads
    • Hector (1862) - Sold for BU 1905
    • Valiant (1863) - Renamed Indus 1898, Valiant (Old) 1916, and Valiant III 1919; became floating oil tank 1924; BU 1957
  • Achilles (1863) broadside ironclad — Renamed Hibernia 1902, Egmont 1904, Egremont 1918, and Pembroke 1919; sold for BU 1925
  • Minotaur classbroadside ironclads
    • Minotaur (1863) - Renamed Boscawen 1904, Ganges 1906, and Ganges II 1908; sold for BU 1922
    • Agincourt (1865) - Renamed Boscawen III 1904 and Ganges II 1906; became coal hulk C109 1908; sold for BU 1960
    • Northumberland (1866) - Renamed Acheron 1904; became coal hulk C 1909, renamed C68 1926; sold 1927; became hulk Stedmound, BU 1935
  • Prince Consort-class broadside ironclads (converted from Bulwark class 2-deckers)
  • Royal Oak (1862) broadside ironclad (converted from Bulwark class 2-decker) - Laid up 1871; sold for BU 1885
  • Royal Alfred (1864) central-battery ironclad (converted from Bulwark class 2-decker)- Sold for BU 1885
  • Research (1863) central-battery ironclad — Sold for BU 1884
  • Enterprise (1864) central-battery ironclad — Sold for BU 1886
  • Favorite (1864) central-battery ironclad — Sold for BU 1886
  • Zealous (1864) central-battery ironclad (converted from Bulwark class 2-decker) - Laid up 1875; sold for BU 1886
  • Repulse (1868) central-battery ironclad (converted from Bulwark class 2-decker) - Sold for BU 1889
  • Lord Clyde classbroadside ironclads
  • Pallas (1865) central-battery ironclad — Sold for BU 1886
  • Bellerophon (1865) central-battery ironclad — Renamed Indus III 1904; sold for BU 1922
  • Penelope (1867) central-battery ironclad — Hulked 1897; sold for BU 1912
  • Hercules (1868) central-battery ironclad — Renamed Calcutta 1909 and Fisgard II 1915; sold for BU 1932
  • Monarch (1868) masted turret-ship — Renamed Simoom 1904; sold for BU 1905

The French, on the other hand, had these ironclads available in 1868 OTL:

This amounts to 21 French ironclads in 1868. I had a couple of these destroyed in the American/Mexican war but most of the others still exist in my TL. Unlike the British, the French would not keep any of their ironclads in the West Indies and few in the East Indies/Siam. Also like the British shipyards, there would always be one or two under refit or repair.

Thus, I have the French with roughly 14 ships on hand at the start of the war in the Mediterranean.

Gloire class 5,603 tons.[1]
Gloire (1859) – world's first ocean-going ironclad, stricken 1879.[1]
Invincible (1861) – stricken 1872.[1]
Normandie (1860) – stricken 1871.[1]
Couronne (1861) 5,983 tons – hulked 1910.[1]
Magenta class 6,715 tons.[1]
Magenta (1861) – sank after internal explosion 1875.[1]
Solférino (1861) – stricken 1882.[1]
Provence class 5,700 – 6,122 tons.[1]
Provence (1863) – stricken 1884.[1]
Héroïne (1863) – hulked 1894.[1]
Flandre (1864) – stricken 1886.[1]
Savoie (1863) – stricken 1888.[1]
Magnanime (1864) – stricken 1882.[1]
Surveillante (1864) – stricken 1890.[1]
Valeureuse (1864) – stricken 1886.[1]
Gauloise (1865) – stricken 1883.[1]
Revanche (1865) – BU (broken up) 1893.[1]
Guyenne (1865) – stricken 1882.[1]
Belliqueuse (French: Belliqueuse) (1865) 3,717 tons – expended as a target 1886.[1]
Alma class (French: Classe Alma) 3,513–3,828 tons.[1]

The Russians had these ships available:

Broadside armored frigates[edit]​

This would lead to a roughly 19 to 10 advantage to the French/Russian Alliance in the Mediterranean and this British number would be split across at least five major bases (Gibraltar, Malta, Corfu, Cyprus and Crete).

I feel that my scenario that the French and Russians, with superior numbers in ironclads in the Mediterranean, would have the initiative to go on the attack and overwhelm the isolated British naval bases one by one (as I did with Cyprus and Crete).

However, with the reduction in number of bases, some reinforcements from Britain and a bit more aggression, the British could and would consolidate their forces and meet the allies on relatively even terms in which their seamanship and superior technology (iron hulls versus wooden, thick armor, etc) would give them the advantage. This was the intent of the two Battles of Corfu.

While I had the British winning those battles, actively KEEPING the Ionian islands would be difficult given the isolated position near Greece where large numbers of soldiers the British couldn't hope to match would allow for a successful invasion aided by a rapturous Greek population on Corfu and other Ionian islands.

Note also that these were recent acquisition by the British Empire had not yet had time to place modern defenses in the area nor the ability to put 10,000 man garrison on each major base. Thus luring away the British fleet as I did in the 2nd Battle of Corfu could lead to a quick invasion by the Greeks/Russians.

As for the rest, I'm not sure if I'm seeing a British-screw.

I had the British seizing the French West Indies with a degree of ease.

The Battle of Siam was basically an incompetent operation ordered from London and forced on the British commander to support. The geography of Bangkok and is river would not lead to an easy invasion if there were adequate forces on hand to defend. I think that the French would being able to bring over not only French forces from Indochina but large numbers of Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian Sepoys, even if it was by land.

And keep in mind that the Mutiny was not too far in the past and the British would be hesitant to pull ANY soldiers from India in the near future.

For the French invasion of Natal, I channeled Napoleon III's aggression and questionable military talent. I believe he WOULD be frustrated that the French Navy would not want to fight a losing battle with the British in the Gulf of Thailand when the British had ironclads and heavier conventional ships (and more of them). Taking the "if you won't fight in Siam, then attack some OTHER British possession" tack seems logical.

I had the discovery of the Kimberly diamond mines bring about a conflict with the Boers (which it eventually did with in OTL). I think that, if the Boers saw Britain fighting a war with France at this time, they'd try to form an alliance as I projected.

Of course, the French would be supportive if only to force Britain to use a disproportionate number of resources than the French would have to.

Well, that's my thinking. If you disagree and think this is unfeasible, that is fine. This is all speculative history.

Have a good night all.
Chapter 93
September, 1868

The Hague

The American Secretary of State William Seward would convene the peace negotiations between Great Britain, France, Russia and Greece in September, 1868. The diplomat started by thanking their Dutch hosts for offering their facilities in mediating the dispute.

In truth, the American was not entirely certain if either Britain or the allies were inclined to make peace. However, the war was affecting American trade and it was in the best interests of his own nation to expend every effort to encourage a resolution to this war.

While news from Asia was sparse, the war appeared to be ongoing in Siam, a land so remote Seward could hardly conceive. Maybe, after his presidency, he may travel a bit more to meet the people he'd been communicating with for so many years. If Seward recalled, the King of Siam had offered elephants to President Lincoln to aid in the war effort. It was painful to consider such a thoughtful man being conquered by some far-off foreign power simply due to the advent of more powerful weapons.

The usual pleasantries were exchanged as both sides attempted to keep up the time-honored over-courteousness usually affiliated with people warring with one another. In an odd way, Seward would have preferred the hostile parties to be screaming at one another.

The first days of the Conference included the usual litany of complaints listed in some sort of chronological order. This wasted a great deal of time and was apparently only for posterity purposes.

Eventually, the key issues were:

1. British offense at Russian/Greek support of Greek rebels on Cyprus and Crete (and presumably the Ionian Islands).
2. Russian outrage that the Russian/Greek ships supplying weapons to the rebels were sunk.
3. British indignation that France would so openly conquer Siam. Given how often Britain did this throughout the world, Seward had trouble keeping from rolling his eyes at this one. Even as the French seized Siam, the British had reportedly marched into Upper Burma (for which the French were indignant).
4. British offense at France's naked conquest of neutral Morocco.
5. French anger at the "unprovoked" attack on Martinique and Guadeloupe.
6. British contempt for French alliance with the Boers

Etc, etc, etc.

Basically, the entire first week was underlining what had happened in the past two years which led the combatants to this point.

On the balance, Seward looked at the current military situation and deemed that the war seemed to be a draw at this point.

Britain had conquered the French West Indies
France, the news having just arrived on a fast ship, had successfully defended Siam from a British invasion .This, in particular, caused a violent argument which forced Seward to suspend talks for the day.
Britain's forces in Morocco appear to have stiffened the Moroccan King's spine and the French were apparently in full retreat.
Britain had lost the Greek Islands but most of those had only been conquered in the past few years anyway and were hardly long-cherished possessions of Her Majesty.
No real news of the war in South Africa had reached Europe as of yet.

Seward expected the situation to drag on for weeks as both sides waited for more information on the war in Asia. However, to the American's surprise, both sides were inclined to continue talking.

The Secretary of State's mind always on the election in North America as well as ensuring that HIS NATION benefited in the peace.

Thus, Seward sought to end the war (and reestablish trade) while also ensuring a balance of power.

The general principles of peace negotiations tend towards one of two options: a settle ante-bellum and post-bellum.

In this case, Seward made the proposal post-bellum.

1. Greece would keep Cyprus, Crete and the Ionian islands (this was non-negotiable for the Greeks and Russians). However, Seward sensed that Britain's bigger concerns related to naval bases and the Secretary of State inserted a clause that these islands would NOT be used by non-Greek navies as a base.

2. France would pull entirely from Morocco, leaving the nation under the King's full control. Great Britain would also withdraw. This mattered to America as well given the longtime good relations between Morocco and the United States. Morocco had been the first nation to recognize America's Independence.

3. France would cede their West Indian possessions to Britain. The was a difficult decision for Seward. Would it be better for America if there was ONE powerful European presence in the West Indies (Spain and the Netherlands didn't count) or two? Would it be better to play one off against the other or would the lack of a strong competitor in the West Indies, result in demilitarization by Great Britain?

4. Great Britain would recognize France's claim to Siam.

5. France would recognize Britain's claim to Upper Burma.

6. Great Britain and France would halt all offensive operations in South Africa until a Boer representative could be invited to the peace table.

To Seward's surprise, the first five points were generally accepted. What he DID NOT know was that Napoleon III had received word from Siam of the dire supply situation in Bangkok. It was unlikely that a second British invasion could be repulsed as easily. With the

What Seward DID know was that the Czar had already gotten over his outrage over the sinking of a few Russian ships by the Royal Navy and was starting to count the expenses of the war. The primary Russian aim (beyond "honor", of course) had already been achieved by the conquest of the Greek islands and their return to Russia's close ally, Greece. Russia itself had not use for the naval bases on these islands. The key to Alexander II"s position was that the British could not have them. Demobilizing them by giving them over entirely to Greece met the Russian's goals just fine. Britain's reach would be pushed halfway across the Mediterranean to Malta, thus ensuring that there would be no further British interference in the Levant.

After that, Russia was happy to talk peace.

Great Britain was also ready. While the French commerce raiding was not as successful as the British, the nation was also entirely dependent on trade. The threats to grain or cotton imports were too great for a shaky British economy and the Tory Majority in Parliament was looking less and less secure.

What was more, the fears of uprisings in India and Ireland were always present on the British mind (though overblown in reality). This was heightened by the French (largely inept) attempts to incite rebellion in those lands (yet another grievance that Seward had to sit through).

First Lord of the Treasury Disraeli had inquired his General Staff and Admiralty what it would take to eliminate French influence in North Africa. The Admiralty announced that this would take total domination of the waves of the Mediterranean. As the French and Russians had the advantage in ironclads and Great Britain could not possibly devote ALL of her heavy ships to the Mediterranean, it was estimated that the Navy could not assume such control for at least three years, this assuming a heavy British shipbuilding program which outpaced the allies.

The Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of Cambridge, then announced that "once the Royal Navy assumed domination and the enemy cannot supply Africa from Europe" (a big IF), then it would take his forces a minimum of three years to march across French North Africa, taking the ports one at a time.

Thus, Disraeli would commit his nation to at least six years of war.....if everything went WELL!

This was plainly unacceptable. Disraeli was inclined to put a stop to the matter before his government was thrown out on its ass.

Thus, by early October, much to the shock of most of the participants, an Armistice was signed between belligerents. No further attacks would be accepted. The only open issue would be the status of Natal and the Kimberly diamond fields.

Seward did not believe that war should continue over some damned rocks and quietly floated the idea of Natal being returned to the Boers (with no French military bases) while Britain laid claim to the diamond fields. That suited both Britain and France adequately well but the French negotiators, to their credit, would only approve a final treaty with consent of their ally. Seward was impressed given Napoleon III's propensity to backstab his own friends when it suited him.

Thus, against his every expectation, the Armistice was signed and ships dispatched throughout the world to spread the news.

In retrospect, Seward decided, that Great Powers of Europe realized that they had limited power to harm one another's holdings throughout the world and maintaining an extremely expensive conflict over marginal colonies and flyspecks on maps was not the way to prosperity.

Russia wanted to resume her exports. Britain wanted to ensure her imports. France, having survived a war with Britain largely intact, was willing to accept the peace.

Greece got what they wanted.

And so did America. Not only would Lincoln be credited with keeping his nation out of war but Seward be credited with negotiating the peace.....conveniently a month before the election. That must be worth a few votes.

While he was the Hague, Seward would do some quiet diplomacy as well. He inquired with the King of the Netherlands if he intended to maintain control over French Guiana permanently (and if he intended to maintain sovereignty over the Dutch West Indies). Seward knew that the "unconquered" portions of the French West Indies (French Guiana and St. Martin) had been transferred over to the Netherlands early in the war. The British were obviously not impressed with the ploy and Seward war frankly surprised that the Royal Navy hadn't simply sailed in and taken them anyway. The Dutch could hardly have done anything about the matter.

By 1868, it was apparent that the Dutch were a fading power. They were incapable of protecting their colonial possession from Britain, France, Spain, America, Brazil and, well, much of anyone. Only the low value of most of the Dutch colonies (the Dutch West Indies) or the willingness to allow the Dutch to keep the more valuable colonies (Dutch East Indies) in order to keep them out of the hands of more dangerous foes allowed the Dutch Empire to continue to exist.

The Dutch West Indies were largely a sinkhole of money and no longer made a profit. If they could not be defended, then Seward inquired why they could not be sold?

The Americans and Dutch had a good relationship, far better than the Dutch had with ancient rivals France, Britain and Spain.

Would the King consider selling to America?

The King agreed to think about the matter but was non-committal. Seward accepted this and made a mental note to bring up the matter again in a year or two.
Chapter 94
November, 1868

United States

The 1868 election was remarkable for the inclusion of 7 new states (Calusa, Cahaba, Mescalero, Aranama, Nebraska, Yakima and Columbia) and 1 old one (Texas).

On the whole, the election would be a sweeping victory for the Republicans, particularly the Presidential vote in which all but three states (Texas, Nickajack and Cahaba) fell to the Republicans.

Down ballot the vote wasn't nearly THAT bad for the Democrats but still resulted in 30 new Republicans in the House of Representatives (the additional states would combine for 15 new Congressional seats) but only 10 in the Senate (14 new Senate seats were up for grabs and the Republicans only split them even with the Democrats. The Republicans would gain three other seats in the Senatorial elections. This was somewhat surprising as some estimates held the Republicans gaining as many as 20 seats in the Senate and 40 in the House of Representatives.

But the Republican Majority, already quite strong, had been extended for another 2 years at least.

Abraham Lincoln was already getting prepared for civilian life. He would write his memoirs and maybe take the wife on a grand tour of Europe, as General Grant did.

Let some other fellow deal with the hazards of office. The Illinoisan was quite done with it.


Having received their orders, the British Regulars and Cape Colony militia glared across from the perfidious French and their loathsome Boer allies. Had the orders arrived but a day or two later, the British rank and file were quite convinced that the French would have been pushed back into the ocean.

Instead, the British were sitting at the border of Natal (having retreated from the gates of Durban) and awaiting the reply of the Boers if they would give up claims to the diamond fields in exchange for Natal. Unknown to the British, Napoleon III had effectively said that any response other than the affirmative would result in the French forces sailing immediately for home.

In truth, the deal was as good as it was going to get for the Boers. With access to the sea, the Transvaal and Orange Free State were now less reliant on the British. Indeed, the governance of the new territory (which had been annexed by the British a generation prior) would give new life to the Boer peoples. They would control their own destiny and would call for large numbers of immigrants over the course of the next few decades to settle.

Seeing the British as an ever-present threat, Transvaal and the Orange Free State (and their lightly populated new territory of Natal) would politically unite into a single country in 1870, the Boer Republic.

Let the Bitch English Queen have her diamonds. All the Boers wanted was their independence.


Bit by bit, the Haitian resistance collapsed. Women and young children, those lucky enough to survive, were shipped east to "foster families".

The remaining women were kept by the army as servants. The Catholic Church, which had been evicted from Haiti long ago as the natives preferred a mix of Catholicism and Voodun, would arrive to take charge of these lost souls. Fearing that the women and girls would be handed over to brothels, the women were effectively forcibly married off to the horde of soldiers settling the land. Like most Spanish (and Catholic in general) immigration in the New World over the past three and a half centuries, the European men vastly outnumbered the women.

Thus, the Spanish, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, French, Italian, Brazilian, Venezuelan, Mexican, etc, etc, immigrants settling into their freeholds would have first choice of the young Haitian women. This would not make for a great deal of happy families....but it would make a large mulatto population over the next generation or two.

In November of 1868, the Spanish mercenary armies finally opted to assault the Citadelle Laferriere, the decades old fortress in the jungle built as a last stand against European conquest. For several years, Emperor Faustin II had been huddled safe in the fortress as his people were butchered around him. Periodically, he'd send his loyalists out for supplies, usually by robbing other Haitians.

By 1868, this was no longer possible and, hungry and resentful, his own personal guard murdered the Emperor and his family. They then abandoned the fortress in search of food. When the Spanish belatedly arrived, they found the doors open and Faustin's crow-pecked body still hanging from the walls.

The Spanish left a garrison to command the inland strongpoint and marched on looked for more blood and prisoners.

Chapter 95
December 25th, 1868


Having achieved agreement between the European powers (though the final treaty had yet to be signed) for the final peace (the armistice remained in effect), the American Secretary of State and President-elect sailed into Washington on Christmas day.

As his ship was early, William Seward had no one to welcome him. But a fast cab was hired and took the President-elect home. By happenstance, Vice-President (and Vice-President-elect) Hannibal Hamlin had been invited to Christmas dinner by Mrs. Seward. The entire party received quite a shock when Seward walked back through the door.

Seward had accomplished much for his country in the Hague and deserved a good long rest before taking up even greater duties in the months ahead.

Hughenden, England


Never before had First Lord Benjamin Disraeli been so grateful for a winter recess. After Gladstone decided to immolate the Liberal Party by addressing the Irish Home Rule argument in Parliament, Disraeli had been convinced that the Tories would remain in power for a generation.

But losing a war had a way of changing that. Of course, Britain had not really LOST the war. But they certainly could not claim to win it (though the Tory backbenchers certainly tried).

Britain made gains:

Martinique and Guadeloupe had finally fallen to Her Majesty.
Upper Burma as well.

However, there were loses as well:

Cyprus, Crete and the Ionian Islands now served the King of the Greeks.
Natal appeared to be going to the Boers.

On the balance, it was tough to say who won. The French West Indies were worth little these days, probably more expensive to administer than any conceivable boon to possessing them. No wonder the Emperor was willing to let them go.

Upper Burma was....well, nobody in Britain had the slightest idea what Upper Burma was or if it would benefit the Empire in any way whatsoever. The mapmakers were the ones who had to move the borders a fraction of an inch to account for this.

In the meantime, the loss of the Greek islands, though only recently gained, may come to haunt Great Britain as these were ideal ports to use against any threat being sent from Europe via the nearly finished Suez Canal.

Granting Natal to the Boers may strengthen a regional rival in Southern Africa.

The Liberals, led by Gladstone (Palmerston was dead and Russell out of politics), naturally condemned the war itself and even more the peace settlement. But Disraeli was convinced that there was little more to gain by extended conflict and much to lose. Having already spent two years without American grain and cotton from 1862 to 1864, the nation did not enjoy a shortage again. The American merchants refused to sail to disputed ports lest their ships and cargoes be seized as contraband.

Still, the next election would likely see the Tory Majority narrowed...if it survived at all. Disraeli would do all in his power to keep a Vote of No Confidence off the floor of the Commons.


The Hungarian Parliament had initially felt that the Compromise of 1867 would be welcomed by the Hungarian people. Since the Rebellion of 1848, the Hungarians had been without many of their traditional rights.

However, the Compromise would lead to a "real" Union between Vienna and Budapest, not just a Personal Union as had been the case before 1848. The Hungarians would be forever tied to the loathed Austrians.

This was too much. Reading the mood of the riotous crowds, the Hungarian Diet, expecting to announce a very different future, would formally reject the Emperor's office and pronounce that the pre-1848 status quo would be returned. The Emperor, outraged by what he considered a betrayal, refused to accept this and, within weeks, Hungary rose up in rebellion once again.


Though Von Bismarck had served Wilhelm I well, the defeat in the previous war could only result in the man's exclusion from office. The King of Prussia had never liked the man's reactionary views or high-handed treatment of his staff.

The King did not resent Bismarck for his failure.....in truth, Wilhelm admired his former Chancellor's aggressiveness....but the loss of much of Prussia's territory (the Prussian Rhine, Posen, part of Silesia and claims to Schleswig and Holstein) could only result in a change of government.

The new ministers, finding the nation bankrupt and divided, would take a less militaristic course, even "retiring" Von Roon and Von Moltke, two exceptional soldiers. The Prussian Army didn't have a large budget and was already a shadow of its former self.

Upon his Ministers' advice, the King would see a re-approachment to his alienated neighbors in Germany who felt that Prussia had been bullying them to get its way for too long. Dreams of becoming Emperor of the various Kingdoms of Germany were now dead.

The King could, however, keep the idea of a united Germany at the forefront, even if not under his power. The Northwest German Confederation, led by Hanover (which had absorbed much of the Prussian Rhineland), had yet to regain the economic power displayed under the old order. Thus, the King of Prussia would offer to reform the customs union and other bodies which had allowed the Germans to prosper for decades.

The King of Hanover had no intention of allowing Prussia the chance to regain ascendancy over Germany again. He refused unless Austria was an equal partner, thus created a Germany with three generally equal powers (Hanover, Prussia and Austria) and a dozen secondary powers (Hesse, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Bavaria, etc) and a host of smaller powers to check Prussia's ambitions.

Thus any significant step back towards a German nation would have to wait until Austria settled her own affairs.
Chapter 96
January, 1869


After years of war, the United States Navy had returned to a series of exploratory voyages. Several expeditions were sent to the Arctic and Antarctic while others (more popular with the sailors, to be sure) would explore the smaller central Pacific islands.

The American fleet, under Admiral David Porter, would visit Tahiti, which had evicted its French "commissioner" during the recent war. It would not be until 1869 that the French managed to send an expedition to regain control over the Tahitian Kingdom. Seeing the heavily armed American fleet, the French commander wisely opted to retreat.

A trade agreement was formed between Tahiti and America, more a statement of intent for the other powers than any real expectation of value for the Americans.

A month later, the American fleet moved on to Samoa, the largest and most populous islands in the Pacific to not yet be aligned with the Americans.

The Americans were welcomed by the tribal chiefs (a large number of gifts probably helped).

Leaving with a trade agreement in hand for whatever it was that Samoans produced (copra was apparently the staple). Samoa was also a regular stopping point for whaling ships looking for water and wood. The scientists on the expedition believed that pineapple, cocoa, rubber, coffee and other goods may find the soil quite friendly.

The natives seemed friendly enough and remarkably athletic. The Americans would introduce the sport of baseball to the Samoans, who seemed to take to the idea quite well.

There remained a few missionaries on the islands, including Anglican and Catholic. The Americans did not seek to offend any of them.


Years before, Frederick and William Seward Jr., had sought to investigate the alleged abuses in Haiti. They were refused entry and rudely evicted from the island of Hispaniola. America was not in a position to force the matter at that point but, now with the peace, a second investigation could be dispatched, one backed by the power of the United States.

Both brothers had spent the holidays badgering their father to demand access to Hispaniola. Finally, the President-elect relented and agreed to send them upon his inauguration. While President-elect Seward would have liked to make his son Frederick the new Secretary of State, he knew perfectly well that would be condemned as outrageous nepotism, even among the Republicans.

The best he could do for his son Frederick was allow him to keep the office of Assistant Secretary of State appointed by Lincoln.

Unfortunately, the Seward family would be draped in mourning as the matriarch, Francis Seward, would die in February, a few short weeks before she would have become First Lady.

In the month following the uprising in Hungary, the anti-Habsburg campaign would spread to Transylvania, Croatia, Slovenia and other regions.


The Boer leadership would grudgingly agree to the French terms of the Treaty of the Hague and ceded all lands of the Kimberly formation to the Cape Colony in exchange for Natal. Most were happy enough with the arrangement. The Boers numbered roughly 200,000 and could not seriously expected to withstand the might of the British Empire for long.

Of course, the Boer farmers, expecting to finally be left alone to their farms, would in the coming years discover other resources buried in the soil.


The last of the French forces retreated from Morocco. The King, watching them cross the border, would vow revenge upon the damned minions of Napoleon III.
Chapter 97
February, 1869


The Emperor would call for aid from Russia and Italy only to find neither nation particularly interested in bringing the Hungarian rebellion to heel. Years before, the Czar had helped put down numerous rebellions in Central Europe (in 1848) but this did not generate enough good will to prevent a coalition forming against the Russians in the Crimean War.

The new Czar was painfully aware that gratitude was not a lasting commodity in European politics.

Over the winter of 1868-69, the rebellion spun out of control to the point that the Emperor huddled in Vienna, fearful of stepping out of line. He could not comprehend why so few heads of government were disinterested in putting down a rebellion against Royal Authority. Did they not remember the French revolution?

But the times had changed. Prussia was a whipped cur and an enemy of Austria. Italy was basking in post-unification euphoria. And the Czar, secure in his borders and busy in the Levant, was more than happy to allow an old enemy to collapse under its own weight.


Having expelled the French (with the aid of the British), the King of Morocco would immediately empty his treasury to upgrade the weaponry of his army. The French had too easily brushed his forces aside. It was now apparent that the old Moorish style of battle was obsolete.

What was more, the King also quietly began shipping weapons to his fellow Arab-Berbers of French North Africa. By 1869, nearly 4% of French North Africa's population consisted of French (or other Christian European) nationals.


The Khedive was similarly having trouble with France but managed to keep his concerns to himself. Instead, the Khedive was preparing a formal opening ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal. While most of the Khedives stock in the canal had been sold, there remained the right to fees and taxes on traffic to come to Egypt.

A dozen Kings, Prime Ministers and other dignitaries had already accepted the invitations.

He would show the Europeans that Egypt was every bit as modern a nation as they came.

Russia, Polish Provinces

Though no one exactly knew why, the Czar had included the Jews of Poland in his edicts what only the Russian language may be used in government, schools, newspapers, etc. Yiddish was banned as was Polish.

That the Czar treated the Jews as badly as the Poles did not keep Polish anti-Semitism from rising. The Poles needed a scapegoat for their troubles and the Jews were easy targets.

Thus, by 1869, the Jews were fleeing Poland in proportion of the Poles themselves. Nearly 100,000 Poles and 10,000 Jews departed Polish Russia in 1869, most going to America. However, there were a smaller number of Jews who migrated to the Egyptian Levant. The Khedive vowed to rule above religion and removed effectively all of the old Muslim suppressions on minority faiths. By the 1870's, even some Russians and Poles were migrating to the Levant along with Greeks, Bosniaks, Albanians and other Balkan peoples suffering from economic decline and unrest.

Many of these peoples would settle in Jerusalem, a Holy City of three faiths. This was encouraged by the Khedive as he saw the Holy City as a potential tourist draw to lure in international funds. The Khedive also wanted to diversify the local population of the Levant to keep the Arab majority from rebellion. For this, the Khedive also encouraged Muslim and Christian Egyptians themselves to settle. He even gave permission for certain Turks to remain in the Levant.

However, most of the Poles and Jews would migrate to America where Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Chicago were the earliest destinations for most immigrants. In these crowded cities, the easterners would often find rivalries with the Germans and Irish neighborhoods.


Throughout the past decade, various movements to increase the responsibility of educated Indians on the subcontinent had been encouraged by both British and native upper classes. However, the war with France and Russia, rumors of attempts to gain Indian alliance against the British and, of course, the perceived threat of the Suez Canal and Russian intervention in Afghanistan would raise British thoughts to the point of paranoia.

With the departure of the popular and sympathetic Sir John Lawrence from the position of Viceroy in 1869, a series of suppressive edicts were issued by his successors from that point onward which resulted in arrests of even the most moderate and loyal supporters of reform.
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Chapter 98
March, 1869


Still grieving for the loss of his wife, William Seward took the oath of office as the 17th President of the United States.

Hannibal Hamlin would remain Vice-President (and have a closer relationship with Seward than he had with Lincoln).

Stanton would finally retire (he and Seward had been cordial but not close) and be replaced by Ulysses S. Grant.

Seward would leave key members of the Lincoln administration in power, including Secretary of the Navy Dahlgren.

Seward chose Hamilton Fish as his own replacement as Secretary of State. The man's judicious temper and able administration would be great benefits to the nation going forward.


Though the Tory Government survived the middling result of the recent war, it was apparent that reforms were needed in the organization of the army.

The Duke of Cambridge was the Queen's cousin and an able soldier who knew the army front and back. Unfortunately, the word "hidebound" applied to the Duke as he loathed the idea of reform "until it was proven necessary". While he had championed the introduction of modern weapons like the Armstrong Cannon (he also supported replacing the old Enfields for years but the Ordnance Department had been responsible for that fiasco), the organization of the army was little changed since the day of Napoleon I.

The Duke continued to support the "purchased commission" system which held that all commissions had to be purchased. The high price effectively prevented 80-90% of the population of even rising to Ensign under normal circumstances. Promotion was almost entirely offered by seniority and even then the officer must "purchase" the next level of rank. If he could not, then the next most senior in line would be approached.

The idea of the system was to ensure that only wealthy men who had a stake in supporting the status quo and would not be likely to revolt.

This system only ran up to the rank of Major and Lieutenant Colonel. All positions of Colonel and above were appointed and almost exclusively limited to the absolute crust of society. There were more peers bearing the rank of General than there were in the House of Lords (it was joked) or showed up on the Queen's Court day. Nothing had ever altered the Duke's position on this matter and he'd reduced the talent pool of the higher ranks of the army to practically a few hundred Britons.

Despite his willingness to introduce new weapons, this did not extend to a flexibility of training or tactics. Evidence that the new weapons could fire 3-5x more shots at greater range with greater accuracy would hint that maybe the large formation charges which as much as not resembled the phalanx of Alexander the Great would not be effective did not seem to concern the Duke. Hearing of exalted British Regiments with a core of seasoned professionals being slaughtered in Montreal, Quebec and Bangkok also made little impact on the Duke. Despite unrest among the junior officers, there was no alteration in tactics.

The Army had already received a terrible black eye in the Crimea where the ghastly performance of the logistical and medical branches were highlighted for all to see for the first time in photographs shared with the general public.

But....still....the Duke refused to consider modernization.

He even refused to form a General Staff akin to what had been initially designed by Frederick II a century prior. A handful of clerks remained in charge of vast portions of army Quartermaster and Commissariat departments. Recruiting the impoverished and criminal elements remained common. Training involved a huge amount of marching with great detail put on minor uniform ascetics.

Disraeli wanted to replace the Duke....but dared not. Instead he quietly politicked to have the Commander-in-Chief report the Secretary of War. The Duke naturally complained to the Queen and Disraeli was forced to defend his decision to Her Majesty.


Admiral de Genouilly had been Naval Minister for 2 years and was quite blunt with the Emperor: the ships being produced by the British were flat-out superior.

It was not the guns or strength of steam engines that was the difference.....but the wooden hulls and thinner armor were no match for the British product launching from half a dozen drydocks.

Initial elation at the defeat of smaller British fleets at Cyprus and Crete would be badly undermined by the crushing losses at the first and second battles of Corfu.

Over the past century and a half, the British had such overwhelming quantitative advantages that the only real debate was if the British advantage in quantity outweighed the British advantage in quality. In the 7 Years War, the British easily overcame the next best fleets in Europe, that of France and Spain.

In the American Rebellion, the French had spent over a decade ruthlessly improving their fleets readiness (as did the Spanish) but even then there were few true tactical defeats of the Royal Navy even when badly outnumbered (the British preferred to forget the Battle of the Chesapeake). When the Dutch Republic joined in, the Royal Navy was almost amused and had no trouble at all blockading the Dutch completely (shattering any pretense of the Dutch being a power).

There were some worries after the dreadful consequences of that British defeat in that war but the French and Spanish thoughtfully reduced British anxiety by the French Revolution immolating the French Navy to the point of uselessness and Spain's idiot King Carlos IV's long reign would see the momentary resurgence of Spanish power proven to be a mirage.

In the meantime, the British reformed mildly when needed and rebuilt their navy to heights never before scaled in the Napoleonic Wars.

In the peace since then, France and Spain had made few gains to return as a threat to the preeminent naval power on earth through the 50 years following the Napoleonic Wars.

However, 1859 proved a milestone when the French launched the "Gloire", a powerful ironclad seagoing warship. The British, sensing the threat, would immediately throw their superior production facilities into building the Warrior and Black Prince. The battles of the American Civil War, the "French and British War" as the Americans called it and then the "Siamese War" (as the British called it) with France and Russia would prove without a doubt that unarmored ships could not be pitted against armored.

For the first time in three generations, the French had the capacity to challenge Britain at sea. The new ironclad steamships required fewer sailors and less "seamanship". In less than a decade, both Great Britain and France would launch over 20 ironclad warships.

Unfortunately for France, the inherent weakness of the French wooden hulls and lighter armor proved critical. Worse, the French had only wooden-hulled ships in development, including the most modern Alma and Ocean class vessels. In the meantime, the British were turning almost entirely to iron and steel-hulled ships with several superior technical innovations like bulkheads.

Key technology like guns and engines? The French kept pace.

The rest? Not so much.

Admiral de Genouilly would be blunt. Effectively all development on the Alma and Ocean class should be halted and the French resources thrown into steel-hulled ships. Anything else was a waste of time.

The Admiral conceded that would put the French another year or two behind the British in production but producing expensive ships that wouldn't last ten minutes against the British seemed a waste of time and money. After two years of war, the Emperor cared about wasting money.

Knowing he'd let his country's age-old enemy steal yet another march on him (or some similar naval metaphor), the Emperor would agree to de Genouilly's demands.
Admiral de Genouilly would be blunt. Effectively all development on the Alma and Ocean class should be halted and the French resources thrown into steel-hulled ships. Anything else was a waste of time.
A good thing for France is that since 1865 they started to use the the Siemens-Martin process to produce steel, instead of the Bessemer process for the British.
So it's a good idea to focus on this. (at least according to https://everything.explained.today/Ironclad_warship/#Ref-57)