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

Chapter 105
July, 1870


While working at his desk, Seward would suddenly feel short of breath to the point that he had to call in his Secretary to summon a doctor. A few hours later, the President felt better but the Doctor inquired if the President had been feeling off lately.

In truth, Seward had been working very hard and was unusually tired but deemed this due to the stress of the office and his own aging. The Doctor ordered the President to relax a bit more, Congress was out of session and all, and Seward promised he would.

Within a few minutes of the Doctor leaving, Seward got back to work.

The Suez Canal

Having become convinced that the Russians and French were plotting to invade India (they weren't), Disraeli's government ordered a blockade of the Suez Canal to all foreign shipping. In outrage, the Khedive also closed the Canal to the British as well.

Though this had the obvious effect of escalating tensions, the British were confident that they could get away with these actions as the rapid expansion of the British ironclad fleet had not been matched by the French or Russians. The French, in particular, practically publicly admitted their current ship designs were inferior and were in the early stages of designing new ones.

The ten years period in which Britain's mastery of the seas was challenged by the likes of France, Russia and America appeared to be over.


Gladstone had led the opposition for years against the arch-imperialist Disraeli. Though political foes with no personal affection, Gladstone at least admired Disraeli's acumen. However, it was apparent to the Liberal Party Leader that Gladstone was escalating a situation which could be relatively easily solved by diplomacy.

While this boded well for Gladstone's return to power, he was uncertain how much of a British Empire would be left for him to command.


Secretary of War Ulysses S. Grant would spend a hot afternoon reviewing the latest upgrades to the "Coffee Mill" Guns and the Gatling Guns. These latest versions were moderately lighter, more reliable and less prone to jamming. The range and accuracy of the weapons were also expanded.

Grant, having witnessed the value to the guns in the Confederacy, British North America and Mexico, was a supporter of continued use and demanded that the shortcomings of the weapons be addressed before he authorized a new order.

Most of the somewhat flimsy weapons had already been taken out of circulation and Grant wanted first-hand testing for a period of months by the actual soldiers who were to use them. The cavalry forces out west had been commanded to utilize them in maneuvers and see how they held up to the rigors of a campaign.

For the most part, the new versions were considered significant improvements on the previous generation and Grant approved the purchase of hundreds of each. Indeed, the rivalry between the two companies was driving innovation as each sought to become the army's preferred supplier.

Grant had used the same tactic in forcing competition for artillery. The old "Napoleon 53's" had done Yeoman's work in the past but was plainly outdated even by 1860. The Board of Ordnance had approved a competition for an updated series of rifled cannon to replace the old bronze muzzle-loaders.

Some spectacular weapons had been invented in the large "siege" gun category and that of the small "infantry support" category. However, the mid-sized model to replace the workhorse Napoleons proved problematic. A half dozen companies offered their wares....but each proved inferior to the Armstrong Cannon, to say absolutely nothing about the amazing Krupp Cannon.

So irritated was Grant, that he approved the purchase of 200 Krupps from Germany pending the American manufacturers capacity to design a competing model. Thus far, he'd been disappointed.

Grant had been equally disappointed that the Winchester, Spencer and Sharpe's rifles had not been improved upon. While each of these had its advantages over the latest "best infantry rifle" on earth (the Chassepot), they each had drawbacks as well.

Had it not been for the American innovations in repeating rifles, Gatling guns, Coffee Mill guns, Dahlgren and Parrot Naval Artillery and armored monitors, the Union's victory over the Confederacy, British and French may not have been possible.

To have a technological DISADVANTAGE to the Europeans would be utter suicide.

A new rifle and new mid-sized cannon competing with or superior to the Europeans MUST be found no matter what.

Grant had barely returned to his office when an aide rushed in with the tragic news: General Robert E. Lee had died.

A wave of grief poured through Grant. The man had given everything to his nation before, during and after the War Between the States. Grant knew that the Virginian had never wanted to fight the Confederacy but was happy to stand up against the British and French.

The nation had lost perhaps the finest soldier since the late Winfield Scott....or even George Washington.

Grant would recommend the President that Lee be laid in state at the Capital, a fitting tribute to the man's contributions to the country. Within a few months, a subscription was raised to build a monument to Lee in Washington. "Washington University", of which Lee had been Chancellor, would be renamed "Washington and Lee University" in his honor.

Grant doubted he'd be remembered as fondly.

Melbourne, Australia

For the past several years, the various colonies of Australia (including New Zealand) had been united into a formal country compromising all but Western Australia.

The rapidly expanding trans-Australian railroad would soon connect Perth to the rest of the Island and ensure a common purpose.

The rapid encroachment of Russian and French forces in the region would lead to the British government requesting that governance over New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and other small British possessions in the South Pacific be assumed by the Austrians.

In 1870, the government of Australia would be surprised to discover they were also requested and required to assume control over the far-flung Hawaiian islands.

In a relatively short period, the influx of British settlers and American Mormon "refugees" had reached nearly 40,000 souls. This would cause huge societal upheaval in Hawaii and the natives promptly rose up in revolt....only to be crushed by superior firepower.

The Hawaiian monarchy was dissolved and a British government put in place of it. The Mormons, who settled largely on the islands of Maui, Kauai and especially the "BIG" island of Hawaii, had largely been left alone for the first few years of their residence.

By 1870, though, the Mormons were attracting large numbers of native converts as well, much to the Anglican Missionaries chagrin. Polygamy was, of course, illegal in Britain but the Hawaiian King didn't seem to care much about that as having too many foreigners invading his country.

Now that Hawaii was a British possession, that meant that the government had to do something about this.

But the Australians would soon have more important things to worry about and did not want to rock the boat by coming down too hard on the Mormons who had helped them overthrow the King of Hawaii. Instead, the Polygamy matter simmered while Australia was being drawn into a new global conflict.
Chapter 106
September, 1870


President Seward would receive a great deal of criticism for refusing to even allow the remaining Confederate states to form Legislatures to approve the 13th-15th Amendment, much less be returned to full citizenship in the Union. But he was adamant that the reports of constant harassment of Freedmen were too numerous and that there were too many southerners utterly unwilling to bend on that issue.

Thus, none of these states would be readmitted in time for the 1870 election. Indeed, only North Carolina and Arkansas even made an attempt to do so. The white populations of the other states flatly refused to move.

That was fine with Seward. None of them were going to vote for HIS Party.

In the meantime, the economic Reconstruction of the South was proceeding apace. By 1870, most of the old railroads had been repaired and new track laid where appropriate. Ports had been rebuilt. Schools for the Freedmen now numbered in the thousands.

Perhaps most contentious was the fact that Federal Employment required a loyalty oath. As most of the Confederates steadfastly refused to do so....that meant that the Freedmen were now taking well-paying Federal jobs as voter registration clerks, tax collectors, railroad men (there was an agreement between the railroads and the government that these employees ALSO must take a loyalty oath), teachers, postal workers, police, soldiers, etc.

Many in Congress, even die-hard Unionists and pro-Freedmen politicians, complained that this was only going to antagonize the white population. Seward steadfastly replied that, if the southern white population was unhappy with the situation, then they may take the Loyalty Oath (usually to a black Federal Employee) and be eligible for such employment.

Of course, few were willing to degrade themselves in this manner and most of the southern states had ceased to actively seek out readmission to the Union. The southern blacks, though desirous of voting rights, also realized that their rights would be REDUCED if the Southern Whites got their way and were happy with the status quo. The southern blacks also knew damned well that so many of their brethren were migrating out of the Deep South that they were becoming more of a minority (pre-war, enslaved and free blacks made up roughly 40% of the southern population. By 1870, this was down to 30% and dropping).


Emperor Napoleon III could note comprehend that the British were so eager for another war so soon after the first. Did the Queen's little minions actually believe that they could blockade the Suez Canal, situated on land by a French client and owned largely by the Emperor, just because the British and Russians were having some remote dustup in the middle of nowhere?

The Emperor, in his typical tone-deafness, would write to the Queen and demand an end to this nonsense.

Joseon Kingdom

For years, the French and Russian forces had occupied Gangwa Island, a chokepoint for the Joseon Kingdom. However, it was not called the "Hermit Kingdom" for nothing. For the most part, the natives were happy enough to have little to no communication to the world. They sent a token tribute to the Mandarin...and that was it.

If the foreign dogs wanted to sit on Gangwa Island for the rest of their lives....so be it.

In 1870, the French and Russians were joined by another power. An American vessel called the William Tecumseh Sherman arrived to "open diplomatic relations". By happenstance, a week later four Japanese ships arrived with the same intent. It had been less than two decades prior that Japan had been forcibly opened by the Americans in the same manner as was being attempted upon the Joseons.

The Joseons, though, simply.....ignored.....the aliens and went about their business. None of the foreign powers possessed the resources to sail up the river to the Capital....or the authorization to so directly conquer it.

Seeing a sudden plethora of competitors would lead each of the assorted foreigner powers to dispatch a request for aid from home to accomplish that very fact. In the meantime, the commanding officers on the scene would remain quite peacefully engaged and even discuss among themselves of the potential combining their strength should none of the national leaders approve the resources to seize the Joseon Kingdom.....errrr......."open the Joseon Kingdom to trade".

That the Joseon Kingdom HAD little in the way of resources TO trade was perhaps immaterial. Conquest was the order of the century and the Joseons were not to be an exception if these sailors and soldiers had their way.
I'm not sure what Korea would have in abundance that foreign nations would want (cotton, steel, coal, gold, rubber, etc)
Not in the south, but in the north?
North Korea contains the great bulk of all known mineral deposits on the peninsula. It is estimated that some 200 minerals are of economic value. Most important are iron ore and coal, although greater emphasis has been given to the extraction of gold, magnesite (magnesium carbonate), lead, and zinc. Other abundant minerals include tungsten, graphite, barite (barium sulfate), and molybdenum.
Nice chapter, I wonder if the Deep South will give up their pride and agree to the government's demands. Let's say that every black person leaves the South, what will happen then? Is that what it will take for the South to give in? Would love to see a POV from the South's position, people probably feeling constant embarrassment, shame, and anger for rebelling and epically failing and being known as the group of prideful people that caused war with Britain due to not wanting to give up slaves that could be replaced with better tools that don't require huge amounts of man labor and bringing about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Keep up the good work.
Chapter 107
November, 1870


William Seward would review the election results from the mid-term election. It was a mixed bag. The Republicans lost 12 Congressional seats and 4 Senate seats. Given the massive majority, these losses would be acceptable to the President who would command 66% of the House and 70% of the Senate.

Even if all the "Confederate States" were readmitted to the Union today and the Democrats swept every seat, the Republicans would remain in the majority.

And these States would not be readmitted for a LONG, LONG time if their own actions were an indicator.

As it so happened, Seward had created a new Cabinet position intended to administer the former Confederate states. It would be the former Senator of Washington, Frederick Douglass (one of his sons would succeed him in the Senate).

London, Paris, Moscow

After months of negotiations, the British Foreign Secretary, acting in conjunction with the Cabinet and the Queen, would refuse to raise the blockade of the Suez. They did not need to invade Egypt....only halt any further transport.

This seemed to make little to no sense as the Russians, the actual country in conflict with Britain, were not shipping any troops or material through the Suez which could possibly affect their conflict with the British Raj in Afghanistan.

The British were only harming France, which needed the Suez badly to reinforce their forces in Indochina.

As the Russian and French alliance had effectively fallen apart over the past few years, it would seem that there was plenty of room for compromise. This should have been quite straightforward to seasoned diplomats....but this would be one of the occasions in which the ill-tempered correspondence between crowned heads would throw oil on the fire.

If the British did not withdraw the blockade by January 1st, France would consider this an act of war. The Russian Ambassador was willing to sign an alliance with France again. The British had demanded Russia withdraw from Afghanistan. The Czar was not inclined to do so. Indeed, the ONLY reason the Russians had entered Afghanistan was to keep the British FROM occupying it.

In truth, the Czar STILL was not (and never had been) interested in invading India no matter the paranoia in Britain about the matter.

Knowing that the continued possession of India was critical to the British Empire's continued existence, the Queen's government was willing to do ANYTHING to preserve it.

With the superiority of the Navy becoming more apparent, the British were willing to force the matter once more. The Royal Navy could blockade the Suez, blockade St. Petersburg, blockade the Dardanelles and do anything they saw fit.

By 1870, the British possessed a full 20 modern ironclads with another eight due for launch in the next two years. The newest were 4 of the Audacious-Class (central battery ironclads) - the Audacious, Invincible, Iron Duke and Vanguard) and the slightly larger Swiftsure, Triumph and Sultan.

The French were down to 12 functional ones....which were largely inferior to these most modern of British ships.

The Russians had nearly two dozen river Monitors but relatively few heavy ocean-going ships. Like the French, most of these were questionable in comparison to the British vessels. The Russians HAD, though, the first two ships of an ocean-going turret vessels the first of their kind not produced in America (the British had built one but it capsized to much embarrassment).

Worse, the British were only a year or two away from launching the first of their "Devastation" class vessels, ones expected to be superior to anything afloat.

The French and Russians were forming the opinion that victory over Britain at sea in the future would not just be difficult, but practically impossible. Later historians would debate if this was the truly motivation for the French and Russian actions in 1870 and 1871.


The Emir could see the Raj forces retreating....but had received enough intelligence that this was only for the winter. With the spring, it was said, the British would be back....in even greater force.

Already having to stomach 28,000 Russian heathens in his country, the Emir would have to beg for more.
I wonder how long the South will stay resistant to government demands? There has to be a somewhat pragmatic wing within the South that sees continued resistance will not help them in the long run in trying to ever attempt to take the White House. How long will southern populace handle all this pressure. Keep up the good work.
Chapter 108
January, 1871


Napoleon III would realize that he'd been backed into a corner. He could not simply allow Britain to unilaterally blockade the Suez Canal. It was widely known that the British were concerned that the Canal may threaten India....but this was getting out of hand.

Fortunately, the Emperor had strengthened his alliance with Russia over the past year.

Surely, the Queen was not willing to go to war with the two most powerful nations in Europe...plus Egypt, Afghanistan....etc.

Was the damned little German woman REALLY willing to declare war upon the world for the 3rd time in 10 years?

For the past few months, the French and Russian fleets had been massing in the Mediterranean.

Though he'd given the Queen a deadline of January 1st, the Emperor would extend that a few weeks in hopes that the British see reason. There was no reason to act rashly.

However the British were already acting rashly enough.

North Sea

In the previous conflict with France and Russia, these nations had wisely removed their heavy warships from their northern ports in order to keep them from being blockaded in by the British Channel Fleet. This had allowed the allies to outnumber and outgun (for a while) the British in the Mediterranean.

The Royal Navy was not about to let this happen again. As the Russian ships led by the Kniaz Pozharsky passed Jutland, a British squadron led by the Prince Consort, the Iron Duke and the Vanguard would intercept.

What the British did NOT realize was that the Russian convoy was being followed by two new turret ironclads recently purchased from the American shipyards (based upon the Massachusetts-class double-turreted ocean-going ironclads).

The battle would suddenly become more hotly contested as most of the heavy ships would take a severe pummeling. Eventually, nightfall would allow the Russians to retreat.

They would not realize that they'd managed to sink the Iron Duke and a older wooden battleship.

By the time the Russians managed to return to St. Petersburg, the ice was already forming but the Czar's response would be unambiguous.

War had once again come to Europe. When the telegraph wires carried the information to Paris, the Emperor knew that making any form of separate peace would be a betrayal of his Russian allies....the only ones he had left.


While President Seward would not quite share the child-like joy of former President Lincoln in exploring new technology, he did appreciate a tour of the Washington shipyards in which the steel-hulled Massachusetts-class USS Nevada was being built. This would be the 6th of the class (though two had been sold to Russia).

Seward was impressed by the powerful-looking engines and massive guns. The vessels looked like upscaled versions of the Monitors but obviously far more seaworthy.

Returning to his carriage, Seward would find himself short of breath and collapse in the streets. A quartet of sailors carried him to his carriage and then on to his doctor.

By evening, the President was feeling better but his Doctor warned that he may have suffered a mild heart attack and demanded that the President slow down. This Seward did....for the next few hours while he took a nap. Then he got back to work.
Chapter 109
March, 1871

British Raj

Over 110,000 soldiers were being gathered throughout the winter and spring with the intention of marching on Afghanistan.

The assorted British India political and military leaders had spent months researching the last Afghan War and how it went wrong. While certain that the Indian Army could crush Afghanistan alone, the presence of the Russians was a bit more problematic.

Here, the French-made Chassepots and German-made Krupp canon would have the advantage of the defensive. There would be no wide formations marching in unison across open fields.

The people who ordered the Army of British India forward would not be the ones to partake in the task. Most of the commanders had resigned themselves to the high casualties to come.

April, 1871

Nouvelle Caledonie

With the British domination of the southwestern Pacific, it was easy for the Australian government to form a volunteer army of 4000 irregulars and 1200 regulars to sail to the French colony of Nouvelle Caledonie.

By 1871, the colony consisted of roughly 60,000 native Kanaks and 6000 or so French prisoners. The former had something of a reputation as cannibals and the Kanak demeaner had not been improved by the measles and influenza epidemics which had so terribly ravaged their population (and would continue to cut it down to 12,000 by the turn of the century).

Having received word to sail on March (the British government decided in January that war was inevitable and it took that long for word to reach Melbourne), the Australians had prepared well and were able to sail within a month.

In April, the Australians would arrive in Nouvelle Caledonie. With only 100 French regulars on hand (part of a punishment detail) and a few dozens prison guards, not a single shot was fired.

The British Ensign was raised over the "New Caledonia".

Within a few months, the Australian occupying force would be in direct conflict with the Kanaks, with several thousand dying in the conflict.


William Gladstone would look on in horror, knowing that his enemy, Benjamin Disraeli, was getting his country into yet ANOTHER war with France and Russia....all over nebulous reasons.

A decade before Palmerston's government had destroyed itself over a pointless war with America. Disraeli had been fortunate to keep his office after the previous war with France and Russia.

What did the nation gain from all this carnage?

Over the past fifteen years, Britain had fought wars on four continents from the Sepoy Rebellion, the Crimean War, the American War, the Opium Wars in China, the French and Russian War (the first one).....now THIS. To the best of Gladstone's knowledge, few to none of these conflicts had resulted in any tangible gains for the British but put the nation desperately in debt.

Disraeli had to win this one...and perhaps win BIG....to keep his office. Gladstone could only watch and hope this was not the end of the British Empire.