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

Chapter 110
May, 1871

The Suez Region

After months of gathering their strength, the French and Russian Naval forced consolidated into a fleet of 26 warships of various sizes, power and armor. It was hoped that whatever they lacked in quality, they could make up for in quantity. The news of the Russian forces at Jutland sinking two British ships (one of them modern) was quite heartening and perhaps gave the allies a false sense of security.

The British squadron held but 14 ships and these had largely been on station for months. Rumors of a shortfall in coal....or powder....or whatever among the British vessels soon circulated among the allied ports.

With a sense of momentum and numerical superiority, the allies sailed for Suez, intending to break the blockade.

However, the British were ready for them and did not lack in coal OR powder in the slightest. Great Britain, having deemed the older and lighter wooden ships a liability in a pitched battle, would leave them to blockading secondary French ports along the northern coast.

The "Suez Fleet" consisted almost entirely of vessels built in the past 10 years.

In short order, the French and Russians would realize that their "numerical advantage" could turn into a disadvantage as the wide array of firepower and speed would leave the allied line of battle confused within minutes of engagement. To keep the line together, the fastest Russian and French ships had to slow down, ceding the initiative to the British. Ceding the initiative to a nation with superior seamanship and artillery accuracy was not a good thing.

Within an hour, the allied fleet was in confusion. Four vessels had already been wrecked or taken. Finally, the allied withdrew leaving the "field" to the triumphant British.

The English Channel

What was understood at the time but not as well to future military historians was the design implications that a naval strategy had on military vessels in the mid-19th century.

Great Britain, for example, had a global Empire and therefore the ships had to be built for extended voyages. Comfort for the crew and a reliability in the method of transport were high priorities when a ship had to sail 8-12,000 miles on a week's notice.

Therefore, the Royal Navy had maintained the "broadside" ironclad design for many years after the USS Monitor helped revolutionize naval warfare by reducing the ship profile, utilizing only a handful of LARGE guns in a rotational turret (360 degree firing range), sheathing the ship in heavy armor and, just as revolutionary as ANY of these ideas, operating entirely without sails and depending upon engines for all transportation.

Even by the 1870's, it was rare that an ironclad would run her engines continuously for any length of time. Even when sailing moderate distances, sails were raised to augment or, more often than not, completely replace mechanized transport. Ships sailing from Britain to the Indian Ocean, even "Steamships", would often take many months to take the journey and only use their engines during times of contrary winds or currents. This was as much to do with saving coal as the ship's engines.

Thus, all British ironclads of the 1860's would be "broadside" ironclads or their slightly more evolved "castemate" designs. It would not be until late 1871 that the first "Devastation" class warships would be launched by Britain without any sails. They would be "turreted" warships akin to the American "Massachusetts" class ships which would be dependent entirely upon her engines for propulsion.

This was a great leap of faith as few engines could operate for so long.

The Americans, on the other hand, had no distant Empire to guard nor were they considered the "protector" of the open seas. Thus, the American ship designers could base their own plans upon a vessel best suited for coastal defense. The Massachusetts Class was entirely sail-free and constructed entirely for heavy guns and heavy armor over the need for range and even speed. The Americans simply wanted the best vessel to defend their shores and got it with the Massachusetts and her sister ships.

As America was not involved in the war, this did not seem to be relevant in 1871. However, two ships based upon this class had been sold by the American shipyards to the Czar. Named the Ivan and the Peter, the warships were the closest thing to indestructible on the waves. Having been forced back in the Battle of Jutland, the Russian Baltic fleet would sail on with the melting of the ice for the open sea. Unlike the previous battle in January, the Russians would not be detected off of Jutland. Instead, they sailed along the French coast.

Here the Russians discovered the British squadrons blockading the northern French ports. As the French had shipped most of their heavy armored vessels to the Mediterranean (as they had in the last war), the British squadrons comprised mainly of older and less-armored ships which were easy prey for the Russians.

First Le Havre, then Cherbourg, then Brest would witness the spectacle of Russian firepower massacring British frigates and sloops. Off of Brest, a British squadron consisting of heavier ships lead by the HMS Vanguard would arrive to challenge the Russians on more even grounds.

The battle seesawed back and forth for hours until a shell from the Ivan tore through the Vanguard's armor and hit her powder store. The vessel exploded in a terrible conflagration. There were no survivors.

At this, the Royal Navy retreated, allowing the battered Russians to sail into Brest for repair and resupply.
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Chapter 111
June, 1871

Isabella (former Cap-Haitian), Hispaniola

Frederick Seward had been rejected for entry to Hispaniola years before by the Spanish and the United States had not been in a position to do much about it. Now, the nation was at peace (at least with foreigners), financially stable and bearing a powerful navy in her own right.

The Spanish dare not refuse entry to the Assistant Secretary of State...or the President's son.

What Seward found would shock and disgust him. Population figures were always rough estimates but it was obvious by the sheer number of empty towns and the fact that women seemed to outnumber men by five to one was an indicator of what had happened here. The Spanish army was apparently hunting down the last of the Haitian insurgents throughout the interior as European soldiers were furloughed into civilian life with their choice of "wives".

What had once been the country of Haiti was an utter ruin surrounded by paradise.


President Seward was having his morning bowel movement when the piercing pain stretched through his chest. He managed to raise his trousers and stumble back to his office before calling for help. He'd been ill for months and knew it was possible that the next attack would be his last.

And the last thing he wanted was to be found on his privy floor with his trousers around his knees.

The President's aides would answer his calls and carry him to a nearby couch.

Khyber Pass


For three weeks, the British forces would invest the Khyber Pass, repeatedly charging into the Russian guns. In short order, they realized this was not going to work and therefore attempted to find any semblance of a trail into the mountains to cut off the enemy supply line.

Unfortunately for them, the Afghans knew these mountains like the backs of their hands. They would not be taken by surprise by foreigners in their own land. And rough goat trail lead the British may have had....would only turn out to be a trap.

The Peiwar Kotel pass was also suitably well protected by Russian and Afghan troops.

Hundreds of cannon had been strategically placed to cover every approach. Hundreds of trenches, ramparts, enfilades, etc were built to ensure the highest body count for every inch of ground.

Within two months, the British Army of India had taken 10,000 casualties and hadn't made an significant progress.


After the Russian victories over the blockading squadrons in Le Havre, Cherbourg and Brest, the British Admiralty's plans to dispatch more ships to the Mediterranean were put on hold. If the Channel were to be threatened....

It was unthinkable.

But plans to withdraw naval forces from the Indian Ocean were also rejected.

If India were to be lost.....there'd be no Empire over which Britain to rule.

There was real discussion about pulling ships back from Gibraltar, Malta and the Suez Blockading Squadron. However, the lack of Russian movement from Brest in the past months lent the impression that perhaps the Russian squadron had come out badly from their battles in the Channel as well.
Chapter 112
July, 1871

Khyber Pass, Peiwar Kotel Pass,

Months of charging directly into the enemy guns had proven to be as successful as the any of the British commanders would have thought. Eventually, General Robert Napier, a skilled and experienced officer in the Company Army who had been absorbed into the British Indian Army after the Mutiny, flatly refused to waste any more lives with such direct attacks.

Napier would probe and prod throughout the mountains seeking an open pass....though he knew this was in vain. The Afghans would never be so stupid as to leave a pass undefended.

Though he loathed failing is sovereign, he also knew that forcing those valleys was impossible with the firepower the Russians were spewing forth. At least 50,000 Russians must be stiffening the spine of the Afghans.

However, the high casualties were already causing unrest among the British Indian Army. The British Indian Army and British Army IN India would number roughly 60,000 British soldiers and 140,000 natives. This did not include the various princely armies.

To ensure that the rest of the country would have LOYAL troops to put down unrest, the 100,000 man forces attacking the Afghans were disproportionately Indian, a fact which would cause great resentment as the casualties mounted.

By the end of summer, over 20,000 casualties had been suffered by the British Indian Army (18,000 Indian and 2000 British).


President Seward would be bedridden for weeks after his heart attack. The President could feel Congress and, more importantly, the restive Southern states sniffing for weakness.

The country was more important than one man. Seward decided that if he was not sufficiently recovered by the time Congress was back in session in August, he would resign the Presidency.

Regensburg, Bavaria

The new German alliance would be loosely organized at first but in 1871 they would form a general government in the old Holy Roman Empire to manage the Customs Union, Postal System and other key functions.....including the military alliance forming in Germany.

The Hanoverians, Prussians and Austrians would be the key powers in Germany, both militarily and economically. However, the smaller German states were utterly intent on maintaining their own rights. Some demanded to keep their own armies....while others demanded a common army which could not be dominated by one power.

Throughout 1871, the Germans would be debating this very matter, wondering how they could be protect their interests among the neighboring states...and among each other.

French North Africa

For the past three years, the British Army had quietly armed and trained the Moroccan Army with the intent of keeping that nation out of French hands.

For the past six months, the Moroccans had funneled over 60,000 modern weapons and huge stores of bullets and powder to their Arab-Berber kin.

By fall, the whole of French North Africa - which was 96% Arab - was under full rebellion.

The British domination of the Mediterranean Sea allowed the rebellion to sweep across the continent as the disorganized French forces struggled to coordinate.

Though the King of Morocco requested British military assistance, this was refused. Her Majesty was more interested in India, not North Africa.

But the Queen WAS good enough to occasional dispatch squadrons to major French North African ports to cut off any supply from the Continent. It was not a full-fledged blockade but was enough to keep the French focus towards the Mediterranean rather than the increasingly rebellious countryside. Tens of thousands of French colonists fled to the cities, leaving the Hinterlands to the natives.

Tired of waiting for help from Britain, the King of Morocco dispatched his forces across the mountains and deserts of North Africa to aid their religious brethren.
Nice chapter, I wonder who will be Hamlin's VP if Seward steps down or dies? Hope to see more US POV's. Keep up the good work. Could we see a map of Afghanistan if possible to show the flow of battle? I wonder if we will see a Indian rebellion if the casualties continue to rise. Britain's actions in Afghanistan are all being done because they believe Russia is looking to invade India, which is not true, we might see India allied with Russia or some other world power if things play out right.
July, 1869

Western Hungary

Finally managing to summon an army, the Austrians marched across the border into the Kingdom of Hungary to put down the uppity Hungarians. It had irritated many in Vienna from Emperor Franz Joseph I down that the Hungarians had turned down the opportunity of reaching equality with Austria in a Dual-Monarchy.

What more could be offered?

Evidently, the answer was a lot. Having been turned down by even his own German allies for aid (Bavaria, for instance, did not want to weaken her northern borders with Prussia), the Emperor ordered the Austrians forward. A second offensive was intended to be launched from Bohemia in the north.

Nothing went to plan.

The Austrian assault on Hungary was ambushed near the border as hundreds of thousands of Hungarian patriots, having seized the arsenals, bled the Austrians dry for every foot of ground in the forests and mountains of Western Hungary.

To make matters worse, the Bohemians, who had suffered badly during the "German War" of a few years prior, would promptly mutiny and refuse to advance into Hungary at all.

Seeking to pile on, the King of Italy, who remained on very poor terms with Austria, would open support the Hungarian and later Bohemian revolts and move a large army to the Austrian border, forcing the Emperor to dispatch badly needed troops to the south.

Finally, in a final death blow, the Czar would announce his support for the Hungarian rebels and offered to "mediate" a separate crowned head for these peoples.

The Emperor would cry out for help to all corners of Europe including his enemies Prussia and France. While this elicited a great deal of laughter in Berlin and Paris, it did not result in any result beyond a demand from the Emperor of France and King of Prussia that Russia not assume ANY new territory out of this situation (which the Czar had no intention of doing).

In the end, no one would or could lift a finger to forestall the Czar from dismembering a second powerful ancient rival in less than 10 years.

His heart broken, Franz Joseph would beg his Austrian ministers to find a way to turn the tide. However, all returned the same answer:

Make the best deal the Emperor could.

By August, even Vienna was enduring riots and the Emperor himself forced to flee to his country home.

By the end of Summer, the Emperor would announce that he would cede two of his various crowns, Hungary and Bohemia, to his brothers, Maximillian and Karl Ludwig.

The Czar found this acceptable and agreed to "ensure the safety" of the new Kings, a thinly veiled warning to any who would dispute the decision.

The Hague, Kingdom of the Netherlands

King William III occasionally had problems with his sons. This was not surprising as the King was considered by many to be insane, at least on occasion. Physically large and vigorous, in his rages, he could be terrifying.

However, the King was still popular with the common Dutch people despite his open debauchery, capriciousness, mercuriality and obviously autocratic preferences. He'd been forced to accept the Constitution of 1848, approved by his father, though he often spoke of abdicating in favor of his son.

Over the years, he'd engaged in a series of disputes with Britain. Queen Victoria called him an "uneducated farmer". The King would also be offended when Princess Alice of Britain would utterly reject his eldest son's courtship (in truth, the Prince of Orange was not interested in HER as well).

Witnessing great nations battle about him as if the feelings of the Dutch mattered little (it didn't) and the vast new metal navies swatting another across the waves filled William III with dread (despite none of the local powers having any interest in conquering the Netherlands).

In 1867, Napoleon III of France would offer 5,000,000 guilders for the Duchy of Luxembourg. Decades ago, William III had written a reactionary constitution for the Duchy so he may rule that autocratically as he wished he could in the Netherlands. As the King/Duke was in dismal financial condition, William agreed to sell, much to the horror of the Luxembourgers themselves and the Northwest German Confederation to which Luxembourg belonged.

Napoleon III would briefly consider the gains of annexing Luxembourg, which had one of the finest defensive fortifications in Europe and would be key to defending France's northeastern border, versus alienating the Northwest German Confederation led by Hanover.

In the end, he deemed a tangible possession better than "goodwill" of his neighbors. The sale was announced and Luxembourg handed over in 1869 despite riots throughout the Duchy. Napoleon III had agreed to keep the Duchy "autonomous"....for now. He would wait until the continent's attention was focused elsewhere and quietly annex Luxembourg directly to France.

The cost of this was high. Within months, the Northwestern Confederation would formally dissolve most of her forms of alliance with France and, led by the King of Hanover, engage with the King of Prussia and Emperor of Austria to renew the previous "German Confederation" customs Union and series of alliances.

With Prussia suitably chastised and Austria humbled, there seemed no possibility than any of the three major powers in Germany (Austria, Prussia and Hanover) were likely to assume the same authority which Austria and Prussia once held during their own rivalry for domination of Germany. Religion would no longer be a dividing line. Secondary powers like Hesse, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Bavaria, Saxony, Baden, Wurttanberg, Oldenburg, etc would instead ally together to ensure their own autonomy and political rights. In time, these smaller nations would learn to skillfully play the game and keep the balance of power between the three larger German states.

Having outraged his own subjects (Luxembourgish and Dutch) and earned the scorn of the monarchs of Europe for selling his people like chattel, the King would delve even deeper into madness. His eldest (legitimate) son would soon depart for Paris where he would drink himself to death in a few years. His second son died in childhood, leaving only this third son to carry on the line.

All of this was reported in America courtesy of New York Times reporter Henry Stanley, who echoed previous Times' articles referring to the 6 foot 5 inch giant of a monarch the "greatest debauchee of the age", a reasonable accusation given his literal dozens of illegitimate children.

Reading this in Washington, President Seward would quietly have the Ambassador to the Hague inquire again if the Dutch West Indies were up for sale. Unfortunately, these possessions were the property of the Netherlands, not the King (who had ruled the Duchy of Luxembourg in Personal Union with the Netherlands and technically do what he pleased with it). But the Dutch Government was also in financial trouble and probably could use a boost in capital by selling off possessions that had never paid their own way.

It was worth a try. Besides, Seward was working on a larger game for which he needed collateral possessions. The British had rejected Seward's proposal to trade the Virgin Islands for the Bahamas. Perhaps he simply needed to sweeten the deal with the Dutch West Indies as well?

Seward also regretted not taking swifter steps to assume paramountcy in Hawaii. Now the British were well entrenched there. Perhaps, a deal may be arranged in which America could trade some of these other claims (via "trading treaties") in Samoa, Tahiti, Vanuatu and the Marianas for Britain's "agreement" with the King of Hawaii.

Would this not benefit BOTH nations?

America would have the islands nearest their shores on the Pacific (Hawaii) and Caribbean (Bahamas) borders and Britain would gain more security in their own collections of archipeligos?

He could only ask.
I don't know if people use debauchee in this sense but it's etymologically wrong. An invitee is someone who's invited, an employee is someone who's employed. So a debauchee is someone who is the object of the debauchery?
Chapter 113
August, 1871


Though he had fully expected a recovery by August, the President found is gains slow. Two months after his heart attack, Seward could barely make his way to the bathroom on his own.

Now, with Congress back in session, it was apparent to everyone, most notably the President, that he was incapable of discharging his duties. Over the past several weeks, Vice-President Hamlin had acted almost as a defacto secretary who helped Seward with his paperwork. This was for two reasons: 1. Seward couldn’t do it alone and 2. The Vice-President needed some practical knowledge of what was happening outside of the Senate before he assumed control.

A week after Congress was in session, he sent for the Majority Leaders. Barely able to be carried to his office, Seward wanted to project his authority one last time. He announced that he was incapable of further carrying out the duties that the nation had elected him to perform. It was time to resign.

The President provided several copies of his resignation to be read in the Senate and House of Representatives and several others to be read to the press. Seward was pleased that there appeared to be genuine regret among most of those present. The New Yorker was never held to be a warm man but he’d always tried to be an honorable one.

“The Presidential Office must be a vigorous and powerful voice for the American people even in times of peace,” Seward began, “but in times of global crisis, it must be even more so. Therefore, I resign my office and leave the nation in the capable hands of President Hannibal Hamlin.”

To his credit, the Vice-President showed no undo pride or ambition at the unexpected promotion to the most powerful office in the land. Hamlin was a stalwart Republican, aligning with the party on most issues. He’d capably managed the senate well for 10 years in office under Lincoln and Seward and would almost certainly not significantly alter the policies set over the past decade. If he wasn’t the most dynamic man, he was intelligent, earnest, hard-working and loyal. For just over a year and a half in office, that would probably do well enough.

Seward’s major piece of advice given to his successor in private was something akin to “don’t let anyone, be it Congress, a foreign power or your own Cabinet, push you around.”

As the news was spread throughout the country via telegraph, Hannibal Hamlin took the oath of office for the President of the United States, becoming the third to assume that title without direct election (Seward was the first President to resign, though, as President’s Harrison and Taylor died in office).

San Diego

The First Transcontinental Railroad had been completed only two years prior in 1869. However, by that point, the growth of the country would demand further transport and this led to the Northern and Southern Transcontinental Railroads to be initiated in the late 1860’s.

The Freedmen provided over half the labor for these projects. Due to government requirements that they receive equal pay to whites, even these arduous jobs were sought after.

Seeking to reduce costs any way they could, the Railroads would solicit labor from Chinese workers, who were paid only 80% of the typical salary and had to provide their own lodgings and food. This incensed both black AND white workers and the Chinese soon found themselves the focus of this anger.

In a rare example of racial unity, the black and white workers operating from the hub of the Southern Pacific Railroad (San Diego to Charleston) would riot and burn the bulk of the Chinese community in San Diego. They then pillaged the offices of the SPR and demanded that the cowering railroad foremen and executives to ban the hiring of Chinese labor.

Only the arrival of the 4th Colored Cavalry Battalion kept the situation from escalating into open slaughter.

California’s governor, with full support of the railroad workers and much of the population, would ban Chinese immigration and laborers from working within the state. While this was well beyond the scope of a State Governor, it was not closely monitored in faraway Washington, which was more concerned with a Presidential resignation and an escalating war in Europe, Africa and Asia than what a few Chinese people were doing.


By happenstance, the Prime Minister of Australia, who had been granted authority to oversee British protectorates in the Pacific (including Hawaii) would also stamp down on Chinese and general Asian immigration during this time for effectively the same reason. Asian labor competed with the white labor and lowered salaries. No resident was eager to accept this and thus the “Whites-only” immigration policy throughout Australia and her dependents was established. This would continue for better part of a hundred years.

While the labor classes of the island of Australia itself was pleased, several other island groups like Hawaii, Fiji and recently acquired New Caledonia would find their export economies stagnant due to these decisions.

Only immigration from “British Pacific” regions were deemed acceptable. These included the Polynesians and Melanesians of the Solomons, New Guinea and other Pacific Islands. As many of these island populations were low and reeling from waves of demographics-crippling introduced diseases, the labor cost would remain high.

However, in times of peace, the British and Irish immigration would help pick up the slack and the region would soon resume robust demographic growth.
Chapter 114
September, 1871

Empire of Japan

Over the course of the past several years, the Emperor of Japan had finally managed to abolish the Shogunate. However, this did not mean that the Emperor had full control over his country. The “domains” of Japan still held a great deal of autonomy, including their own armies and navies.

In 1871, the Emperor would formally abolish the “domains” and centralize the government. This would require years of political unrest and confusion.

The Japanese Navy was initially envisioned to bear 200 modern ships but this was soon dismissed as financially impractical. Even organizing the navies of the Shogunate and the domains into the new Navy Ministry was proving chaotic and slowed by lack of funds.

Though the Japanese government had long been interested in establishing defacto control over neighboring islands (Sakhalin, the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan) as well as the Joseon Kingdom, the internal political complexity would prevent the Japanese from doing so with one exception: the Ryukyu Islands.

For generations, the pseudo-independent Ryukyo Islands had been allowed a sort of “co-tributary states” bearing tribute to both China and Japan. At various times, they would gravitate to one power or the other.

By 1871, the Emperor of Japan, only starting the process of consolidating his power at home, determined that the Ryukyu’s were to be made solely a Japanese possession and announced that he would annex them completely.

This was deemed acceptable and reasonable given that the Chinese government and people had suffered terribly in the Opium Wars, the Taiping Rebellion and several natural disasters.

However…..the Chinese had also spent many years engaging in the “Self-Strengthening Movement” by updating their arms to modern standards and enacting deep reforms in the Mandarin Government.

Among these upgrades were the purchase of several foreign ironclads (2 Kalamazoo-Class from the United States and 2 Provence-class from France) for the Chinese Navy. The Japanese did not appear to know of this when they pronounced the Ryukyu’s a new possession.

This was soon discovered when the Japanese naval expedition sailed within sight of the Ryukyu’s and were caught at sea by the modern Chinese ships. In less than an hour, most of the Japanese vessels had been sunk, including the French-purchased “Kotetsu”.

The disaster soon made its way back to the Imperial Court and the Japanese forces would instead be reassigned to guard against a potential rebellion caused by this sign of weakness. Even the handful of ships dispatched to Gangwa Island of the Joseon Kingdom were recalled, leaving the French, Russians and Americans huddled on the miserable island waiting for the Joseons to acknowledge their existence.


Buoyed by their victory over the impudent Japanese Emperor, the Chinese court began to pay closer and closer attention to the war between the Russians, French and British.

While still suffering economic malaise, the political situation in China was slowly recovering and the nation was increasingly ambitious to undo the “unequal” treaties imposed by the long-hated westerners after the Opium Wars.

The formation of a navy strong enough to defend the coasts of China was always in the thoughts of the Chinese Admirals. Even they accepted that the vessels purchased from abroad were not the most powerful available (and that the Chinese shipyards were not remotely capable of replicating them). However, the division of the Europeans among themselves was perhaps more than a bit promising.

If a deal could be struck with one of the foreigners, then the rest could be evicted….and then China turn on its “ally”.

Virtually every army and navy expert would agree that the time was not right. But, perhaps, soon.


The first “German-wide” military maneuvers between the bickering rival states of the Confederation would go as one may expect….a complete disaster.

Austrians refused to obey the orders of Prussians. Hanoverians demanded that their units march only with their neighbors (NOT the Prussians and Austrians). Several Regiments of various nationalities would go about looting towns and farmers’ fields.

About the only thing to go right was the efficient management of the railroads. Over the years of political division, the Railroads continued to grow omnidirectionally and these had been among the first things to be centralized with the Confederation alliance.

Also, the distribution of rifles of the Mauser factory in Wurttemberg and the Werder Factory in Bavaria would both prove to be superior to the Dreyse Needle Guns. By the end of 1871, both factories were running at full capacity to meet orders.

Krupp Cannons (cast in Hanover) were also agreed to become the standard cannon of the Confederation. This had long been in the process for years and the only real exception had been the Prussian Army, though this was due more to lack of funds and the Hanoverian resistance to shipping their rival weapons.

Another joint maneuver was scheduled for 1872 given the dismal coordination of the Confederation in 1871.
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Chapter 115
October 1871


With winter coming, General Napier accepted that his forces would have to go into winter quarters. However, he refused to release them to go home. Instead, his 80,000 Indians and 10,000 Britons would have to find sanctuary in the Peshwar Valley.


The St. Lawrence Seaway Association (a cooperative effort between Canada, Quebec and the United States) would be formally inaugurated in 1871 as government officials of the three countries would dig the ceremonial first shovel-full of dirt from the series of canals and dams intended to link the heights of the St. Lawrence from the Welland Canal in Canada, along several locks along the border of Quebec and the United States until they reach Montreal, at which most ship could travel on to the Ocean.

The engineering challenges were daunting and, to be true, not entirely figured out. But linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic was a challenge worth pursuing by all parties.

It would allow growth to Canada and the American Great Lakes region and provide income to Quebec.


Though the French forces in North Africa may have easily enough put down a rebellion among the disorganized and poorly armed Algerians, Tunisians, etc, this did not necessarily apply to the well-armed Moroccan Army which rode east in a 40,000 man column, all armed with modern British weapons. The Algerian irregulars would immediately redouble their efforts, preventing the 40,000 French soldiers spread from Oran to Cyrenaica to consolidate.

In Eastern Algeria, 8000 French Regulars and 2000 colonials would engage the bulk of the Moroccan Army and at least 20,000 Algerian rebels.

The result was a slaughter unseen in centuries. The few thousand survivors of the French faction would retreat to the cities and, by 1872, would find themselves largely surrounded by Moroccan/Algerian/Tunisian forces on the interior and the Royal Navy along the coast.


Sailing for India via the Atlantic was a British squadron bearing the new Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. Lord Lucan had not actively served in the Army since the Crimean War when he led the Heavy Brigade and was censured by then-commander Raglan for failure to support. Lucan had rebuilt his reputation since, though, in the House of Lords and maintained the friendship of the Duke of Cambridge.

However, the failure of Napier to accomplish anything in Afghanistan mandated a change in command by the thought processes of the Commander-in-Chief of British forces, George, Duke of Cambridge. Of the Duke’s greatest faults (to the minds of later historians) was his insistence on only the highest of nobles be promoted to high military ranks.

Lucan was not incompetent but he would hardly be deemed dynamic and certainly not remotely as knowledgeable of the terrain or country in the lands he’d be fighting as General Napier.

But the Duke remained Commander-in-chief and he won his way.

Lucan would arrive in December of 1871 and immediately prepare to assault the Russians and Afghans in their mountain fortresses.
Chapter 116
January, 1872


The HMS Devastation, perhaps the deadliest warship on earth, would be launched in January, 1872. The shipyard had been working nearly 24 hours a day for the past year to get the vessel ready.

9000 Tons and bearing enormous guns, the Devastation’s launch would nearly be treated as a public holiday as nearly a hundred thousand Britons would witness her raising steam for the first time.

Among the witnesses was the thirty year old Lieutenant Commander Alfred Thayer Mahan (he had been written by a friend in the war department that he could expect another promotion upon his return to Washington), who had been sent by the United States Navy to make his own evaluation of the ship and her capabilities. Unlike most of the other British ironclads (or steelclads), this one resembled the mastless Massachusetts-class warshps produced by the American shipyards.

As a courtesy (and common at the time), Mahan would be granted “observer” status on the Devastation. He had spent much time on the USS Massachusetts and realized that this monster probably could not only defeat one of that class of ships but perhaps even TWO.

Mahan rather suspected he would find out that very thing first hand as rumors abounded that the Devastation would, upon a successful shakedown cruise, likely be ordered to Brest where the Russian Massachusetts-class “Peter” and “Ivan” remained stationed.


The “Stationing” of the Peter and Ivan at the French port of Brest had not been intended to last as long as it had. Most of this had to do that the French shipyards were rather obsolete both in technology and process. Several serious wounds received at the hands of the Royal Navy would take months to repair (and some of those not terribly well) in the French shipyard. Neither Russian ship had been completely incapacitated. Both would sail out of Brest on occasion to challenge British interlopers attempting to evaluate if the Russian ships were still present.

By January of 1872, the Russian ships had been patched up as best the French shipyards could. The complaints from the Russian Captains underlined what the French Naval commanders had been saying for years: that their facilities were largely out of date.

The combined Russian and French squadrons in 1871 had been enough to keep the Royal Navy from sailing too close. However, led by the Devastation?

The French and Russian commanders would discuss their strategy. The Russian plan had always been to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to protect the Dardanelles by augmenting the Black Sea Fleet. It would also be possible to break the British blockade of the Suez Canal.

The French, eager to keep the Russian presence along the Channel to prevent the British from blockading the northern French ports (as they did in early 1871), would argue that the Ivan and Peter forced the British to keep a larger Channel Fleet at home and thus free up the allies in the Mediterranean.

The Russians, naturally, would have no part of this and followed their orders. They steamed down to the Mediterranean and didn’t stop until reaching the Dardanelles.

The French squadron in Brest, though powerful, could not seriously hope to resist the Royal Navy and defend Brest. They could make the attempt, be sunk for the effort, and still leave the Channel open…..or they could sail south to the Mediterranean and help the French Mediterranean fleet break the British blockades of North Africa.

This latter was chosen and the French effectively ceded the Channel to the British.

This was a fortunate event for the Royal Navy as, on her shakedown cruise, the HMS Devastation suffered a terrible fire in one of her engine rooms and she would be laid up for months for repairs. By the time she was ready to sail again, her sister ship Thunderer was also ready to launch.
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I don't know if people use debauchee in this sense but it's etymologically wrong. An invitee is someone who's invited, an employee is someone who's employed. So a debauchee is someone who is the object of the debauchery?

I actually got that word from a contemporary American report regarding William III. Not sure if it is grammatically correct or now.
Nice chapter, I wonder who will be Hamlin's VP if Seward steps down or dies? Hope to see more US POV's. Keep up the good work. Could we see a map of Afghanistan if possible to show the flow of battle? I wonder if we will see a Indian rebellion if the casualties continue to rise. Britain's actions in Afghanistan are all being done because they believe Russia is looking to invade India, which is not true, we might see India allied with Russia or some other world power if things play out right.

I don't think that a VP would be necessarily replaced until the next election.

As for Afghanistan, the British would not have significantly made it into the country as they'd be stalled at the mountain passes at the border.
I think the map is wrong in regard to Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador. There is no Labrador. Il n'existe pas. Je suis très triste. Quebec initially was quite small, and in about 1905 Ottawa extended the borders of Quebec, Ontario & Manitoba northwards into its present form.

Do you mean that the territory of modern Labrador would be included into the northern lands of the Hudson Bay that were taken by the USA in this timeline?
Do you mean that the territory of modern Labrador would be included into the northern lands of the Hudson Bay that were taken by the USA in this timeline?
It's a good idea to look at the Wikipedia page on Territorial evolution of Canada. You have Quebec larger than it was in the 1860s and most of what is today Quebec was Rupert's Land and would have been ceded to the US. But Labrador would have been retained by Newfoundland. Many of the northern islands of Canada were not part of Rupert's Land but were a separate British possession. They wouldn't have been transferred with the sale of the Hudson Bay Company. IOTL they were transferred to Canada in 1880.
Chapter 117
February - May, 1872


After serving for a year and a half, Hannibal Hamlin would announce that he would seek a full term of office in the 1872 election. Several Republicans had their eye on that election as being the first truly contested since 1860 (Lincoln's first term). Lincoln had not been internally challenged in 1864 and the expected battle between Seward and Grant in 1868 never occurred as the General had been wounded in Italy.

The Republican candidates would wait with baited breath as the natural contender with the incumbent Hamlin decided if he was going to run. In the end, the Secretary of War Ulysses S. Grant opted against. He'd served honorably under Hamlin's administration and had come to respect the President. Undermining one's own superior by running against him seemed abhorrent, akin to treason or mutiny. With their politics being almost entirely aligned, Grant saw no reason to upset the applecart and announced prior to the April Republican Caucus that he was NOT a candidate and would support the President.

There WOULD be opposition though. Many in America, even the Republicans, were tired of paying 100,000 soldiers to occupy the southern states (even those which had been readmitted to the Union usually held SOME Federal troops). Others were unhappy with the level of support the Republicans were giving the Freedmen and black voting rights.

However, the economy was still recovering well enough, the debt was being paid down bit by bit and the nation had been kept out of the British/French/Russian wars as of yet.

With the momentum of the remaining Southern States to be readmitted stalling, the Republicans were plainly still the heavy favorites to retain both the Presidency and control of Congress in the 1872 General Election.

The Democrats, on the other hand, were somewhat less enthused. Once again, every pundit would agree that it would be a miracle for the Democrats to win the White House, though advances in Congress were entirely possible, even likely given the huge Republican advantage in that body could scarcely be increased.

But who would lead?

In 1868, the top candidates, Governor Seymour of New York, General Hancock and Senator Douglas of Illinois practically RAN FROM THE NOMINATION, knowing it was a futile effort and would damage the future prospects of the nominee. In the end, the Democrats selected a "Copperhead" for President, which no doubt cost them dozens of seats in Congress.

This could plainly not happen again. Thus, the same three names were batted about. Seymour had retired from office in 1868 and hadn't sought to run again. Douglas was something of a spent force. While supporting the Union in the war, his attempts to reach the office via grand compromises had retroactively brought scorn from both sides.

Hancock, having forged a distant friendship with Douglas who served as his political mentor, had returned to Washington in 1871 from his time as commander of the Department of the Pacific. The two would agree that Democratic chances in 1872 were somewhat of a longshot. Douglas, now 60 and aging poorly due to stress and gout, had largely given up his hopes for the Presidency but though his younger (48 years) friend may still have a chance.

But 1872 would NOT be that year.

Having learned a bitter lesson in 1868 that whoever you have at the TOP of the ticket mattered downticket, the Democrats were inclined to put their best foot forward even if the candidate was less than enthused about the idea.

The Democrats would choose Seymour as their standard bearer. Having few political scandals and being from a large state helped. The Democratic Caucus would then choose Senator Douglas as his Vice-Presidential Candidate. Douglas knew that this was the kiss of death for his future but agreed out of Party loyalty.

It was a nice, well-balanced ticket with good Union men. It also didn't stand a chance of victory but certainly the Democrats could hope that a few states may go their way and that the Congressional and Senatorial elections may increase their ranks.

The Republican Caucus would go unexpectedly smoothly as well. In the end, there were no serious contenders to Hamlin once Grant announced his support for the President. Potential challengers like John Sherman and Benjamin Wade of Ohio were easily eliminated by offering them positions in the government. Sherman would be Treasury Secretary and Wade would serve as Vice-Presidential Candidate.

After that, there were but a few fringe candidates who couldn't even force a second ballot at the Caucus.

Montana and Cheyenne Territories

Having served for years in the west, Governor-Generals Stuart and Custer were preparing for recall to Washington. The soldiers were happy enough in the west. This allowed them to remain close to their cavalry and in the saddle themselves. Occasional Indian rebellions were cherished as a needed break from routine. Neither relished being handed some desk job in Washington and quietly spoke of.....shudder.....retirement.

Mrs. Stuart and Mrs. Custer, on the other hand, were utterly delighted. The women HATED the frontier life and practically sprinted to gather up their children and possessions to return east.

The official date of the cavalrymens' recall was to be June 30th of 1872. The ladies were SO excited that they talked their husbands into allowing them to leave a month early in order to "set up household" in Washington.
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Chapter 118
February through May 1872


Disraeli's position in Parliament was getting more and more tenuous as even his own backbenchers were preparing to rebel at the cost and waste of the war.

Gladstone had taken to giving loud, grandiose speeches pointing out that not a single Russian soldier had entered Afghanistan before "British ham-fisted diplomacy" at forcing the Emir's hand had forced the Afghans into the arms of the Russian Bear. Previously, Afghanistan had proved quite useful as a buffer between the British Raj and Russia.

It had been DISREALI who started this war! Gladstone thundered.

Further, the government's stupidity at blockading the Suez Canal ENSURED that this threw Egypt into the arms of the French!

None of this war was necessary, in Gladstone's mind, and Britain had little to show for it. Did Disraeli really believe that crowing about conquering NEW CALEDONIA (a place Gladstone had never heard of until Disraeli bragged of the seizure in Parliament) justified this heroic expense?

The problem was that Gladstone's Party appeared to be mired in the minority. The Liberals were close enough power to taste it but simply could not entice enough Parliamentarians to his side to force a vote of No Confidence.

In the end, Gladstone realized that only a terrible defeat in this war......meaning the loss of India....would force a breakup of the Tory government. That losing India would probably guarantee the destruction of the Tories and ascendance of the Liberals for the next century or so would be cold comfort.

No, there must be another way to switch over dozens of Tories to his side.

In the end, there was but one option. Ironically, it was the same subject which tore apart the Liberals in Gladstone's short-lived administration a less than a decade prior.

Then First Lord of the Treasury Gladstone had sought to implement Home Rule for Ireland. This split his party down the middle and threw Parliament over to Disraeli. Since then, the Tory First Lord had studiously avoided almost any mention of Ireland, quietly granting minor concession on a regular basis that were popular in Ireland but never quite agreeing to Home Rule. This had been enough to keep most of the Irish Catholic MP's in the Tory Party. Gladstone's Liberals, fearful of the beating they took when last bringing up this subject, would refuse to make Home Rule as part of their platform for years.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Gladstone accepted this....until now. Now he needed to get the Disraeli buffoons out of office as soon as possible. If that meant bringing up a sore subject, that is what he must do.

British Raj

Lord Lucan arrived with minimal advance warning and presented his credentials as the new commander-in-chief of the British Indian Army and British Army in India. General Napier, with remarkable dignity, accepted his demotion and ceded command.

This would, however, result in some additional friction between the two bodies.

The officers of the British Army (stationed in India) had been reared in a very different system. Though the "Commission Purchase" system had been formally abolished in 1871, virtually all officers in service had been raised in it. In Britain, a definition of a "gentleman" was a man with means who did not require anything from anyone. He was independent and free. Purchasing a commission meant that you had means and would be loyal to the system. Most British officers, even by the 1870's, had little formal training.

The British Indian Army (the former East India Company Armies of the various Presidencies of India which had been reformed into one unit after the Mutiny) was entirely different. The officers did not purchase commissions but were usually granted them after graduating from Sandhurst or other colleges. The pay scale (paid by the Indian taxpayer) was actually HIGHER than the British Army for many years and men of lower means gravitated to India.

This left a predictable rivalry between the British Indian Army (paid for by the Raj) and the British Army IN India (regular regiments which were stationed in India but paid for by Britain). The Regular Army officers considered their counterparts "not quite gentlemen" as they had to earn their positions rather than pay for them.

Since the Mutiny, the two had been forced to work together but still largely did not socialize. The Commander-in-Chief of both sets of forces were typically British Indian Army officers (given the heavy majority of soldiers were part of THAT army). Replacing the respected and skilled General Napier with an over-the-hill aristocrat was considered a slap in the face by many British and Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army.

Lord Lucan, who had never been to India nor understood the cultural clashes common to the subcontinent, was intent on only one thing: the seizure of the passes of eastern Afghanistan. Benjamin Disraeli, eager for an end to the war, commanded Lucan to complete this by any means necessary.

Within weeks of arrival, Lucan had reached the Peshwar valley and gazed for the first time upon the intimidating mountains. But Lucan was convinced that he could take the passes. After all, there were only Wogs and Russians guarding those fortifications. Surely, nothing the British Army could not handle.
Chapter 119
May, 1872

North Atlantic

With the Russian Fleet's departure from Brest earlier in the year, the Royal Navy once again had effective control over the Atlantic. The grain and cotton imports from America continued with little interruption.

As opposed to many previous wars over the centuries, "privateering" had effectively died off. This was more due to the evolution of technology than a lack of interest in the seizure of enemy shipping. By 1872, the advancements in naval technology meant that only the latest model ships were likely to survive any kind of engagement. Gone were the days when a relatively light but fast ship could easily be converted into a privateer (or pirate, depending upon the point of view). Privateers could go years, taking dozens of merchant ships, before they even encountered a ship of war. Even then, the lighter ship, if kept in good condition, had a better than even chance of escape against a heavy warship.

Now, the steam-powered warships were frequently the fastest on the waves. In addition, they were often so expensive that they could not be "wasted" on privateering. They were required to remain in powerful squadrons.

By 1872, the British kept only a few of their ironclads on the open seas, hunting for privateers. That was enough for most prospective French rogues who knew that being sighted by one of these warships was tantamount to capture or death.

Thus, trade with Britain and America continued largely apace. The heavy Massachusetts-class warships, of which there were now four and all stationed along the east coast, would ensure no instances of foreign warships taking their battles to closely to American shores.

Meanwhile, trade with France, predictably, had effectively fallen as the British lighter warships easily kept the French merchant fleet at anchor.


Emperor Napoleon III was nothing short of apoplectic at the rebellion rising in French North Africa. Outnumbered 20 to 1 by Arabs, the French (and other European) settlers had been forced into the cities....where they were frequently blockaded by sea by the Royal Navy, apparently without French naval assistance.

The Emperor thundered at his Admirals, who calmly pointed out that even the Emperor acknowledged the inferiority of the French ironclads to the British. It would not be until late 1872 at the earliest that the newly upgraded shipyards in Bordeaux and Marseille were able to produce the all-steel hulls necessary to compete with the British. Instead, the French ships were being strapped with extra armor and heavier guns in hopes that this would give them a chance in battle (though at the cost of speed and seaworthiness).

The Admiralty pointed out that the direct assistance of the Russians MAY help a bit but the Black Sea Fleet appeared to be permanently anchored in Greece, the Dardanelles and the Levant. Negotiations with their Russian "ally" to get them to coordinate at sea in the Mediterranean were not going well. Russia had not terrible concern regarding the shutdown of the Suez as there appeared to be no real threat by the British to their Siberian ports.

Thus why get upset?

Also, the Suez Canal being shut hurt the British more than the Russian in the Afghan War so why risk Russia's Fleet.

Not for the first time in the last decade was the Emperor regretting his actions of intriguing against his enemies for his own gain. France had just fought a war against Britain a few years ago which gained them very little (Siam) while costing the last of the French West Indies. His invasion of Morocco, intended to cement France's power over all of North Africa (even Egypt was a debtor to France), had been a failure.

The entire war was an expensive waste in which others gained.

Now, the Admirals were not even willing to challenge the British in order to relieve blockades of French North African cities. Indeed, often these blockades would be randomized by the British due to lack of resources. A blockade would cut off one city for a month or so....then rapidly do the same to her neighbor. That way, the French were never entirely sure WHICH cities would be guarded by the Royal Navy until they arrived.

This allowed SOME supply ships to make it through but not enough to make a difference in breaking out of the cities to challenge the Arabs of the hinterlands.

Only PEACE would allow this to happen and the Emperor was willing to talk peace....if the British were.

Kassel, Kingdom of Hesse

The French officer representing the Duchy of Luxembourg in the 1872 spring maneuvers would look on in amusement as the Germans squabbled. While there had been some improvements in the German Confederation armies from the previous joint military maneuvers, the French observer would not seriously find Germany a threat.

Indeed, the French presence at such maneuvers was something of a farce as it was well-known that the Emperor maintaining the Duchy of Luxembourg (recently purchased from the King of the Netherlands) as a separate entity from France would soon end. Napoleon III needed a public relations coup and this would placate some angry French citizens.

In the meantime, the officer DID find the innovative use of railroads in moving troops about the Confederation as well as the benefits of having a General Staff. This should be implemented in France but the officer knew better than to recommend the old goats in Paris to do anything new. Clerks still ran the French army and not terribly well.

Kassel had been selected as the headquarters of the German Army (which Regensburg to the south was the political Capital). This was intended to keep the key functions of government out of the hands of ANY of the three main powers in German (Austria, Prussia and Hanover).

While the French observers would witness the errors and tribulations of the maneuvers, they did not see the German General Staff (inspired by Von Moltke but not commanded) recognizing the shortfalls and quietly addressing them.


Having prepared for months for the assault, Lord Lucan overrode his new senior officers (both British Army in India AND British Indian Army) and commanded his forces into the passes. He didn't care how many men were lost as long as the Russians and Afghans were pushed back.

Lucan even had the benefit that he did not need to conquer Afghanistan, only to seize an "adequate length" of the passes which would ensure no Russian armies could conceivably march into India.

As Lord Lucan possessed a low opinion of both Russians and "Wogs" (usually possessed by those who hadn't fought them), the British aristocrat was fully confident of victory. His British soldiers were the best in the world and his Indian Sepoys would at least be adequate to the task.

What the General did not realize was that the British Indian Army (and British Army IN India) had been deliberately forbidden from gaining the most modern British weapons (the upgraded Snider-Enfield breech-loader) in an attempt to keep another mutiny from getting out of control. Virtually all of the Indian Regiments and most of the British still utilized the old Enfield muzzle-loading musket.

Lucan was not worried about this no matter how many times his staff would beg him to take into account the Russian forces (and many of the Afghans) had superior Chassepot rifles with better accuracy, range and rate of fire. Given that they British would be marching into the teeth of Russian defenses, this was somewhat daunting the men who would be in the front ranks.

But Lord Lucan was adamant. He'd been sent to India to accomplish what Napier had failed to do: seize the passes of Afghanistan. And he didn't give a damn how many Indians had to die to do it.