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

Looks like Indian independence movements will be gaining traction far more quickly this time around. Fools like Lucan are how you lose Empires.
Chapter 120
May, 1872

Khyber Pass

The initial assaults upon the Khyber Pass (and the other passes) would commence on May 28th, 1872. The Earl of Lucan would spend the spring preparing advanced artillery positions, bringing forth heavy mortars, gathering supplies, etc to throw all of his resources at the enemy at once.

Within a few weeks of arriving in India, Lucan had realized his predecessor, General Napier, was NOT incompetent at all, he was simply unwilling to accept the likely tens of thousands of casualties it would take to seize the passes.

Choosing British Army IN India commanders to assault the other routes into Afghanistan, Lucan determined that he would personally lead the seizure of the Khyber.

Lucan wondered if the Iron Duke (who HAD served in India) would think of these dismal Kush mountains after fighting the Spanish and French in the Spanish Alps. Wellington had crushed his enemies time after time in the mountains.

Unfortunately, Lucan was not quite the mountain fighter that Wellington had been. Attempts to flank the entrenched Russians and Afghans failed miserable as every conceivable trail had been blocked.

Finally, frustrated, Lucan ordered his armies into the Khyber Pass. Artillery duels would swiftly result in the Russian forces gaining the advantage due to the heights, fortified position and more powerful guns. The Armstrong Cannons, though exception in an infantry support role, proved insufficient for the task at hand. Few of the cannon could even be elevated enough to reach the Russian positions, much less reduce them. The larger British cannon and mortars were simply pummeled into submission.

The necessary frontal attacks into the Passes, Valleys and Gorges would prove disastrous. Thousands of Russian and Afghan snipers could fire down into advancing columns, withering the Indian and British forces which could barely reply in kind.

But still Lucan ordered his men forward. Eventually, the first valley of the Khyber Pass was taken via a daring night assault. However, light would reveal that the next valley, the next gorge, the next mountain would be every bit as well guarded and fortified.

A young Russian Lieutenant was captured during the battle and brought before Lucan. The General, smug with his "victory" which cost over 8000 casualties in the Khyber Pass alone, would demand to know if the Russian commander would surrender. Even Lucan's adjutants had the good sense to look embarrassed.

The young officer, cradling a wounded arm courtesy of a British bayonet, would retort in passably good English, "General, there are a hundred more valleys between here and Kabul no less impregnable than the one you so bravely captured at the cost of so much Indian blood. If your Queen is so interested in replicating your "Victory", I'm sure the Czar would be delighted to sell each of these other valleys for the same price!"

Given that the efforts to force the Peiwal Kotel Pass and the other routes toward Kabul had not met even THIS much success (for another 6500 Indian and British casualties), the seizure of a mile or two of the Khyber Pass was indeed proving quite expensive indeed.

By this point, the Earl began to realize that the task would be even greater than previously estimated. While his orders did not necessarily require him to "conquer" Afghanistan, they did require him to seize enough of the passes to ensure that no Russian Armies could possibly march down into India. Lucan knew that he had no accomplished THAT as of yet.

Thus, Lord Lucan summoned another 20,000 Indian troops from various corners of the subcontinent. He carefully kept as many of the British Army IN India forces scattered about to ensure compliance by the natives as well as the handful of British India Army regiments comprised entirely or largely of Europeans.

The assault on the Kush should remain a largely Indian affair.


Pedro II of Brazil would visit his aged stepmother in Portugal in 1872 (his visit in 1871 had been cancelled due to the outbreak of war). He was shocked how sick and decrepit she looked after 40 years apart. However, it was a warm reunion. Pedro would also go on to visit Spain, Italy, the Vatican and other parts of Europe on a year long voyage.

While in Europe, he received copies of Brazilian newspapers that pronounced that his daughter Isabel, who he had left in command of Brazil while he was travelling, had signed into law the freedom of all children born to slave women from that moment on.

Pedro had long been an enemy of slavery (he pushed for an end to the slave trade) but his encouragement of a staged emancipation had brought great opposition throughout the slave-owning classes in Brazil. Without adequate support, there had not been significant movement in this direction in years. However, recent government ministries had also spoken against slavery and Pedro had hoped to end the institution in his lifetime.

The Emperor had not left any instructions whatsoever to his daughter or his Ministers on this matter and the Law of Free Birth passed Parliament somehow and his daughter, the Regent Isabel, approved it immediately. Though happy to know future generations would be safe from the vile institution, the King was quite concerned that this may lead to political unrest in Brazil.

But there was nothing he could do about the matter now and the Emperor went on with his European tour.
Chapter 121
June, 1872


While the walls of Oran continued to hold, the French grip on the Muslim citizens did not. In the night of June 6th, 1872, a group of Arab-Berbers would throw open one of the city gates and allow the Moroccan-Arab-Berbers into the city.

A wild night of slaughter ensued in which the French garrison and most of the European civilians were slaughtered.

By this point, Algiers, Constantine and Tunis were similarly besieged. The example of Oran would cause shudders throughout the European refugees and many would demand evacuation from North Africa.

With the intermittent British blockade cutting off regular supplies, reinforcements, etc, this proved difficult and only the odd vessel bearing a few hundred civilians would be routed back to the Metropolis whenever the blockade momentarily lifted.


The Khedive would seethe in anger after the French "financial advisor" bluntly told him how to run his Kingdom. Over the past years, Egypt had grown closer to France. When Britain ceased to offer loans, the Khedive was forced to look entirely upon the French for his far-reaching....but terribly costly....reforms.

With the French apparently incapable of breaking the British blockade (and the Russian disinterest), the Khedive looked at the 70% of his nation's debt owned by the French and wondered how he could get out from under it.


Over the course of the past several years, the Russian railroads continued to expand exponentially. A new series of railroads had reached throughout the Ukraine, Poland and even Finland.

Wars had been lost by Russia largely due to the great distances and Russian incompetence at logistics. The Crimea ended in defeat not so much on the battlefield but the supply depot.

With most of the Russian large cities west of the Urals connected by rail in the past 20 years, the Czar began to wonder if he may even reach as far east as the Pacific. This was probably too ambitious for now but the capacity for the British to cut off the Russian shipping from St. Petersburg and Constantinople was troubling.

COULD Britain....or China....or France....or America someday threaten Russian Siberia?

The prospect could not be dismissed.

Alexander II would have to think on it.
Chapter 122
July, 1872


King Maximilian of Hungary would see his nation coming apart at the seams as the Slovaks to the north and the Transylvanians rebel against his authority. If his brother in Vienna were to see this, he'd probably laugh.

Maximilian, childless, would adopt one of his brother Karl Ludwig's 2nd son Otto (six years old) for his own heir.

In the end, Hungary would continue to convulse for years.

Dorah Pass, Peiwar Pass, Afghanistan

As casualties mounted in the Khyber Pass, simultaneous attacks on the Dorah and Peiwar Passes. Neither would go any better.

Forced back onto the plains with inadequate medical facilities (the British had apparently not learned their lesson from the Crimean War), as many men died of disease in Afghanistan as of war wounds.

Nearly 30,000 had succumbed in 1872 alone to match the 18,000 the previous year.

It was also quite obvious that the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other Indian faiths were bearing the brunt of the campaign as the British regiments remained billeted in various Indian cities to ensure compliance of the population.

Resentment built up in droves as it became quite clear that the Indian regiments would carry the burden of the war.

The Earl of Lucan would, with regret, withdraw his forces back to the Peshwar Valley to enter into winter quarters. Three months of heroic bloodshed had accomplished nothing.


The laying of the first Duilio-class Italian Ironclad would take place in 1872, a full year earlier than expected. Witnessing the effect of ironclads against wooden warships first-hand, the Italian admiralty spent years designing the biggest, fastest and most powerful ironclads on earth. At nearly 11,000 tons, the Duilio class would dwarf even the new British Devastation class warships.

The guns of the Devastation class were still to be decided. Some Italian Admirals were looking towards some British-built guns, the Armstrong guns. Rumor had it that the Armstrong company was investigating a 100 ton gun. However, the likelihood of Britain EXPORTING weapons even to a neutral power in the near future was somewhat low.

Thus, the Italians would look to design their own guns along these specification or even purchase them from America, where the Americans were working on a heavy guns as well.


Secretary of the Navy Dahlgren had spent years working with various companies to design new, heavy naval artillery. The Navy Department was doing a bit better than the Army at this point, though (the army still couldn't come up a decent medium size "workhorse" gun).

By 1872, the old muzzle-loading "Dahlgrens" were getting more and more obsolete. The new Armstrongs were reportedly MUCH more accurate with greater range.

Fortunately, Dahlgren's experiments had bourn fruit. While he had not yet design a new "Breech-loader" (most nations continued to have problems with gas escaping with large breech-loaders), rifled muzzle-loaders continued to prove to be effective.

The largest of Dahlgren's new creations were compatible with the heavy Armstrongs being designed even now.

With the larger gun, Dahlgren would also sign off on a proposal to Congress for the construction of four vessels to succeed the Massachusetts-class (four in service, two more in production) with a displacement of over 10,000 tons. This would nearly match the Italian vessels reportedly under construction and exceed the tonnage of the British Devastation class.
Chapter 123
August, 1872

Southern Montana Territory

Mrs. Custer and Mrs. Stuart had planned on returning to Washington in May to await their husbands' return.

Unfortunately, an uprising by some some of Arapaho and northern Cheyenne had delayed this as the ladies' safety (and their children) could not be guaranteed. As it happened, Mrs. Custer had been visiting Mrs. Stuart and helping to prepare for the move when she was stuck in Cheyenne country.

Over 1400 Cheyenne and Arapaho had left their reservation. Contradictory American initiatives meant to both isolate the Plains Indians from and assimilate into "regular" American society.

At Fort Sheridan (the home of the 4th Cavalry), Governor-General Stuart would control most of Cheyenne Territory. However, the uprising would cause the Cheyenne and Arapaho to effectively besiege the cavalry station.

With Stuart on patrol hundreds of miles to the south and Custer in Fort Bozeman, Montana, the 120 or so cavalrymen and 40 civilians were BADLY outnumbered. The earthen and stone walls of the fortification were poor protection from the rebellious tribesmen.

Both Stuart and Custer had spent years attempting to gain a level of trust with the local tribes. The Crow and the Lakota had come around and often served in auxiliary roles with the American Cavalry. However, the other tribes were much less inclined to cooperate no matter the inducements offered.


For the first time in recent history, the Pope Pius IX would travel to Bethlehem to give homage to the birthplace of Jesus. He would then travel on to Jerusalem to visit the various Holy Sites.

In Jerusalem, he would witness Jews keening at the Wailing Wall....and a tourist industry being built with remarkable speed.

The Mediterranean Sea

Having realized that the Russians were NOT intending to sail from the Dardanelles and challenge the Suez blockading squadron, the increasingly confident British Admiralty would authority Royal Navy assaults along southern France and, more devastatingly, the French North African ports.

While some French ships ran the blockades of the French southern coast and those of the North African coast, as many as not were stopped and seized. Eventually, most attempts were halted.

Instead, a new strategy was formed: France would mass ships and supply convoys in Marseille and sail south in overwhelming numbers to brush aside a given North African port's British blockading squadron.

This worked in 1871 in Tunis, then early 1872 in Algiers. However, this would fail miserably in mid-1872 in Tripoli when the French convoy was intercepted at sea by a British fleet off of Malta. The French forces were scattered and not a single ship even made it to challenge the blockading squadron.

Khyber Pass

Preparing to enter winter quarters, an early snowstorm granted the Earl of Lucan one last chance to make gains. Under cover of the blinding snow, the General would force 15,000 soldiers into the Pass in hopes of catching the Russians and Afghans by surprise.

While it is true that the whiteout prevented the Chassepots and Krupps from annihilating them from a distance, this did not mean that the casualties were not high as the Indian and British troops leapt the ditches and ramparts into the allied lines.

While a brave and daring maneuver, the Indians would soon learn that the Russians and Afghans knew more about fighting in snow that they ever would. Beyond taking a few outposts and advance lines, the British Indian Army accomplished very little. When the slow lifted, the allied artillery would start pounding the exposed Indians crammed into the valley like live fish in a barrel. The Chassepots would join in as the retreat became a route.

6000 brave men would lay dead or wounded upon the Pass when the others fled. The wounded would be left to pray that blood loss or exposure would kill them before the Afghans arrived.
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.

Good point, though for purposes of my TL, I left it with Quebec (which was neutral at the end of the British American war of 1863) instead of still-British allied Newfoundland.

I may update that in a future chapter for Quebec to return the territory of Newfoundland.
Chapter 124
August, 1872

Victoria, Vancouver

Against any conceivable odd, the name of Victoria, capital of the US Territory of Vancouver had not been changed. Even the positioning of an American naval base at Esquimalt (the southern tip of Vancouver Island) would not change this.

After the land was seized by the British, it was assumed that the name would be changed. However, internal political friction in Congress and the Territory itself would see discussion of a name change only inflate tempers. Accusations that self-aggrandizing Lincoln or Seward would name the city after themselves would keep this simmering until, a decade later, a public vote opted to leave the name be.

In truth, many diplomats breathed a sigh of relief as re-designating a city named after the Queen would be considered an insult to Victoria and undo much of the goodwill gained in the past years.

Denver, Colorado Territory

As the Territorial Legislature was embodied in 1872, it was a given that, by the next Presidential election of 1876, the Territory would have applied for...and received statehood.

The only question was if Colorado would be admitted to the Union before or after any more Confederate states would be re-admitted.

Rio de Janeiro

For months, a series of slave-holding gentry had gathered in secret. The Regent's, Princess Isabel's, decision in the Law of Free Birth (or Free Womb) enraged many in the capital. Though Isabel had few political opinion not related to Abolitionism, the general thought was that the Princess should be removed from her official duties as regent.

However, the scheme was leaked to several government supporters who brought it to the attention of several high-ranking Royal Guards soldiers. These men would lead a group of Paraguayan War veterans against the gathering of potential insurgents and surrounded the large building in which they were meeting (conveniently placed out of town).

No one knew who fired the first shot, if it was a soldier or a rebel. However, the firefight soon trapped the slave-owners in place. Attempts to flee would result in a vicious withering fire. When the building was set ablaze...the soldiers still killed all who set foot outside.

The important thing to realize was that most of the soldiers were "slave-soldiers". With few volunteers in the war, the Government would "rent" slaves from their masters and put them in uniform to fight Brazil's war. Few were returned to their masters after the war. Who would want a slave that had been trained to be a killer?

This was the local garrison called upon to protect the Princess-Regent. They happily killed all the plantation-owning gentry and conservative military officers on hand. Even several priests were trapped in the building when it burned. 160 of the 200 attendees were killed, either by flame or bullet. The rest were captured and fully confessed their aim to overthrow the Monarchy and replace it with a Republic dominated by slave-owners, the military and the Church.

While the King and Princess were not terribly popular in SOME quarters, they were beloved by the general population who were outraged at the attempted coup.

Isabel's husband, Gaston, Count of Eu, would lead the government forces in hunting down the most militant of the plotters. In short order, several dozen high-ranking men were arrested and held for various terms under house arrest. A few were convicted and sent to prison. Others were allowed to take the loyalty oath and return home....minus their slaves or commissions (whichever the case may be).

When Pedro II returned home in late 1872, the Emperor was dismayed by the rebellion but pleased at how quickly it had been put down.

Most importantly, the Emperor had learned a valuable lesson: keep loyal people in arms.

Pedro II would formally liberate all the "slave-soldiers" and grant them full citizenship. Over the coming years, Pedro would disproportionately recruit from this demographic, much as the United States Army had taken to doing.
Chapter 125
November, 1872


President Hamlin would slowly receive the results of the November election. As expected, he was able to defeat the Seymour-Douglas ticket by a fair margin (almost 3-2 in the popular vote) and much more in the electoral college.

The Republicans would lose some seats in the House and Senate but not to the point of really challenging the majority.

On the whole, Hamlin had his referendum on his own leadership and that of the Republicans.

"He kept us out of war" was always a good rallying cry.

Not all went well. The Irish and German immigrants (particularly of New York) had initially been solidly Democrat but had drifted in the past decade to the Republicans. This election saw that these groups were now drifting back. Some of this may have to do with the former New York governor being at the top of the ticket but most pundits agreed that this may be a longtime trend. Despite Lincoln, Seward and Hamlin's attempts to bring them into the Republican fold, the occasional anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant faction was starting to take center stage much to the Republican dismay at the ballot box.

New York and New Jersey fell to the Democrats. This would severely hinder future elections if these states went solidly to the opposition.


It had taken a longer-than-expected time for the news of the Afghan War. The results were dismaying. Tales of being severely outgunned by the Russians was not received well.

Worse, Disraeli had dragged his feet with the peace feelers with France due to his belief that he may squeeze some sort of victory from this fiasco. This seemed impossible now.

The First Lord was preparing to reply to the French offer when further news that the French had badly mauled the blockading squadron off of Algiers by consolidating their forces into one heavy fleet and overpowering the British vessels.

Algiers received some supplies before the French were driven off by rumors of the imminent arrival of the Maltese Squadron (in fact, Malta was not even aware of the attack by this point).

This was a disaster and Disraeli could not begin negotiations with such a defeat still lurking in the minds of the negotiators.

Disraeli's Cabinet met and agreed: a victory must be won before going to the negotiating table.

The easiest way to do this was at sea. Several heavy ships were dispatched from the Channel fleet to augment the Mediterranean squadrons. They were ordered to hunt the French Navy and draw it to battle. Unfortunately for the British, the French fleet had already fled to the safety of the southern Mediterranean harbors.

Constantine, French North Africa

In November of 1872, the Arab-Berber rebels managed to break into Constantine, an inland city. Unlike in Oran, there would be no mass slaughter. The French civilians were escorted to the coast on parole and allowed to depart. The Arab-Berbers made contact with the local British squadron and arranged for Italian ships to dock and pick up the Europeans in small seaside villages.

The French soldiers were forced into quarters but were generally treated as European prisoners-of-war expected to be treated. The King of Morocco had managed to get the local Arab-Berbers under adequate control to avoid the murder of prisoners or civilians. He knew that he must live with the consequences of his actions in the future and did not want THAT hanging over his head.
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Chapter 126
February, 1873


Lord Lucan would read between the lines of the correspondence from Britain - the Commander-in-Chief, the Minister of War, the Foreign Secretary, the First Lord of the Treasury and even the Queen herself - and come to the obvious conclusion that the whole of Britain was castigating him for his failure to shift the Russians and Afghans from the Passes of Eastern Afghanistan.

Slightly more subtle were the urgings to accomplish SOMETHING so Britain could sit down at the negotiating table with something resembling leverage. As it was, Britain had gained nothing.

There had been talk about Royal Navy and British Army directly aiding the North African rebels.....or even invading Egypt.

Caustic comments had been levied about that the British Indian Army was better off invading French Indochina that protecting against a Russian incursion from Afghanistan.

Lucan took this to heart and prepared his Generals for even greater pushes into the Kush Mountain chain in the Spring. Many of his subordinates objected, in some cases publicly, of this directive. In the end, the passes practically defended themselves. Filled with a hundred thousand Russian and Afghan troops with superior weapons and years to dig in would only extend the slaughter more. In the past two years, over 50,000 had died of injuries and disease. This dwarfed the Crimean War already.

The Earl's snide reply that there were always more Indians to fill the ranks would unfortunately be captured by the press - native, British and foreign. By Spring, even the most remote Indian villager had heard THOSE words.

In the meantime, the once-moderate educated Indian class, having be excluded from power in the past decade and forbidden from forming a legal political group, would start to form ILLEGAL political groups.

Gangwa Island, Joseon Kingdom

At length, the various European and Japanese forces which maintained an uneasy truce on Gangwa Island would depart one by one. The Americans were the first, having no patience for such work. The Japanese, having been defeated by the Chinese, also withdrew effectively ending their claim to influence.

Finally, the French withdrew their ships, tertiary though they were to the powerful vessels now menacing the seas.

In the end only the Russians remained. Easily supplied from their bases in China and the Pacific, would remain, hoping to wait out the Joseon Kingdom.

Sakhalin and Kuril Islands

With the defeat of the Japanese fleet in the Ryukyu Islands, the Russians had quietly assumed control over the lightly governed Sakhalin and Kuril Island chain.

The Japanese population on Sakhalin, usually small and reserved mainly to traders which used Sakhalin as a middle-man for Chinese silk, would immediately urge the Emperor to do something about this.

At the moment, though, the Japanese confidence was low and, given the modest value of the northern islands, were not inclined to make war over such a thing.


The delegation of Tennessee notables was politely received by the President. He pronounced that the State Legislature may be reembodied.....IF.....the vote was deemed fair and free for all individuals.

Years before, Tennessee had sought readmission to the Union but violence had marred the election so badly that the results were thrown out by the National Government. In the time since (and the assassination of the Longstreets and Sheridans in Louisiana), the American Army had ruthlessly hunted down any glimmer of organization of these "raiders" who would frequently burn black churches and assault Freedmen....among even worse atrocities.

While the organizations had largely been laid low, the violence would continue on such a regular basis that Hamlin had not even considered reestablishing these states as viable partners in the Union. Freedmen bureaucrats taking voter registration and receiving the "Oath of Loyalty" from white southerners had so inflamed passions that South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama (minus the new state carved from her northern borders) and Louisiana had not even bothered requesting readmission in years.

Only North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee had repeatedly attempted to regain their political rights of the remaining holdouts.

Arkansas was still heavily divided. Ante-bellum Arkansas has largely seen her population centered along the western shore of the Mississippi. Virtually all of the black population of this region, while remaining in the state, had left the Mississippi and settled in western Arkansas on land grants. However, the two sides, armed to the teeth, were only kept apart by Union soldiers.

Tennessee, on the other hand, had been less violent due to her position as an economic "middle state" which was already much more industrialized than other portions of the south (only Virginia had more manufacturing that Tennessee). Hoping to end the occupation, Tennessee's political leaders had actively sought to halt any organization of "raiders" and would even form conventions stating their acceptance of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments (non-binding as they were not recognized political meetings).

President Hamlin would determine that Tennessee and North Carolina would be allowed to vote on a new State Legislature in 1873, which would be embodied in 1874 IF and ONLY IF, the elections were fair and free.

North Carolina, always so genteel, had hoped to emulate Virginia and regain her citizenship as well.

Hamlin was not terribly hopeful that a truly free election in either state was likely. Worse, if he annulled the results, he would be playing into the Democrats' hands. However, there had been legitimate efforts made on the part of MANY of those states' leaders to meet the Union's requirements and he could not in good conscience refuse them the opportunity to prove themselves.


Emperor Napoleon III had not cared much when France lost the French West Indies in the last war.

He would not care if he lost the prison colony of New Caledonia in THIS war.

However, he sure as hell DID care about the prospect of losing North Africa. Located so close to the Metropolis, and bearing a large population and fertile fields, this had been a cornerstone of French policy since before the Restoration of the House of Bonaparte (it actually had been the House of Bourbon that had first seized the region).

More than any other event, the Emperor knew that he could not lose North Africa. THAT was the reason he sent out peace feelers last year. But the British had apparently deemed the Queen's hand stronger and only doubled-down on the blockades in the Mediterranean. This left the Arab-Berber population free to rise up with Moroccan help on land and British at sea.

By February of 1873, only the cities of Algiers and Tunis remained under French control.

And, of course, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.

Had the Emperor known of the Egyptian Khedive's plots, he would have collapsed.


An Egyptian ship bearing several high-ranking negotiators quietly slipped from their moorings and sailed towards the Royal Navy blockading fleet. Expected, they were met with courtesy by the commander of the British force.

That man would send his swiftest ship back to London bearing this unexpected but welcome offer.
Chapter 127
April, 1873


Libbie Custer had barely survived years on the frontier. She also told her husband in no uncertain terms that should would not go back.

Mrs. Custer and Mrs. Stuart had been besieged for months at Fort Sheridan, Cheyenne Territory by almost a thousand Arapaho and Northern Cheyenne. Eventually, General Custer would return from Fort Bozeman in Montana Territory and General Stuart arrived from the southern reaches of the vast Cheyenne Territory with assorted cavalry units and Lakota and Crow auxiliaries. In one cataclysmic battle, over 300 Indians were slain including their battle leaders, the oddly named Two Moons and Lame White Man.

The Lakota auxiliaries under command of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse would hunt down dozens of the others in the wilds of western Montana. For this boon, the Lakota tribes were granted additional lands to their reservations in Minnesota and Montana.

Mrs. Custer and Mrs. Stuart would settle in with their families in Washington as their husbands, among the most dynamic and energetic soldiers in America, were placed in command of storage facilities and the like.

April and May, 1873

Khyber, Peiwar Kotal and Dorah Passes of Afghanistan

Despite great efforts by scouts, the British would only find again and again that every goat trail had been heavily fortified to the point that there was no realistic way to flank the Russians and Afghans. There would be no Ephialtes to lead the invaders to a secret trail and emerge behind the Russians as the Persians at Thermopylae.

The British Indian Army was pointed towards the heavily fortified passes, with trenches, stone and earthen ramparts, tunnels and enfilades at every conceivable position. Krupp Cannon would be situated at every height, often beyond the possible reach of British artillery.

Taking heart that his latest instructions did not demand that he CONQUERED Afghanistan....but far enough into the passes for a suitable defensive frontier could be established where the Russians and Afghans would have as much trouble grinding forth onto the Peshwar Valley as the British did INTO the mountains, Lord Lucan deemed this to mean he had to conquer several miles into the major passes.

Of course, this was far easier said than done. This meant attacking on very narrow fronts into the teeth of prepared enemy formations. The casualties immediately inflated. Yet the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu Indians would manage to grind forward one redoubt at a time throughout April. Each time, the Russians and Afghans fell back, sometimes a hundred yards, sometimes a quarter mile, never very far until they reached the next line of prepared defenses.

Before the snows had even melted, the casualties had reached 15,000. And there seemed to be no end. The brave formations were withered by accurate Chassepot fire and obliterated by powerful Krupps. British artillery was only of the most moderate utility as the British gunners were constantly attempting to fire UP at the enemy targets. Even the handful of heavy mortars dragged forward would prove of little use and often were picked apart by Russian-manned Krupps holding the high ground.

Eventually, the brave Indian soldiers could not bring themselves to charge into the next enfilade.....to climb the next rampart.....to endure the next bombardment on open ground.

One by one, the British Indian Army Regiments would simply refuse to march forward into the slaughter. By most estimates, the casualties of the attackers outmatched the defenders by as many as 10 to 1. Disease ran rampant in the British Indian Army camps, causing almost as many deaths as Russian bullets. The Commissariat and Medical branches had improved somewhat since the Crimean War...but not terribly much and this had not been matched by the British Indian Army. Many of these soldiers were not acclimated to the altitude or climate and therefore sickened easily.

The "Martial Races", which now dominated the British Indian Army, would simply refuse to advance. The Jats, Gurkhas, Pathans, Nairs, Dogra, Brahmins, etc, etc, etc, who had replaced the "mainstream" Indians who had fought in the Mutiny (as these minorities would be viewed as more reliable) would bleed no more for the Queen when even the dimmest among them could see that the entire army could be consumed for a few more miles of Kush valley.

In panic, the Earl of Lucan would order hundreds of these "Mutineers" to be executed before their fellows. Knowing full well how this would be taken, dozens of British Indian Officers would bluntly refuse to follow it but the mere knowledge of the order would cause riots.

In a crucial moment, the Russians and Afghans attacked the disorganized British and push them nearly back to the border before Lucan could stabilize the situation. Oddly, the Russian attack may have prevented a full-blown repeat of the Mutiny as it forced the Indians to defend themselves.

Fearful of shattering his reputation, the Earl would demand that the Army march forward. Knowing this was both futile and sure to cause greater rebellion among the troops, the senior officers refused. Lucan's threats to execute any man who did not march forward would only lead to the worst conceivable result: his own officers would secretly meet and decide that the Earl was unfit to command. A dozen General officers and high ranking staff would confront the Earl and present a petition that he step down immediately as Commander-in-Chief.

Appalled, Lucan refused and threatened to arrest the dozens of officers if they did not march immediately. To a man, they declined, stating that the Earl was incompetent and risking the British Raj. Thus, several General Officers and Regimental commanders were placed under arrest and shipped eastward to Bombay.

The gross insubordination of the Officers would soon be followed by open Mutiny among the common soldiers.
Chapter 128
May, 1873


Tired of French interference of his government and threats of cutting off further loans, the Khedive would approach the British for an alliance. He would keep the Suez closed to French forces (the Russians were not mentioned) if the Royal Navy would assist in the conquest of Cyrenaica.

The Egyptian forces would march westward across the desert while the Royal Navy kept Cyrenaica under blockade and provided vital supplies to keep the Egyptian Army moving The move was such a shock that the French barely were able to put up a defense.

By Fall of 1873, the Egyptians had also marched into Tripolitania. Here they would meet the Berber forces under command of the King of Morocco.

The Egyptians would be invited to retire back into Cyrenaica.


After a long siege, the French population of Tunis would agree to a negotiated surrender. They French soldiers and civilians would be allowed to withdraw past the British blockade on neutral Italian ships.

The British were not particularly worried about a few thousand French soldiers making it home and being redeployed elsewhere. With the British-aided Berber and Arab conquest of North Africa (with the notable exception of Algiers, the last major port in North Africa still in French hands), the British were able to withdraw most of their blockade fleets from Africa....and move them to the southern coast of France.

Even the British "Suez" squadron was pulled back, leaving only a few ships to prevent any Russian attempts to sail via the Red Sea (they didn't and had never intended to to this). Indeed the Russian Black Sea Fleet would remain in the Dardanelles. This reflected the Russian paranoia that Britain would somehow seek to attack Constantinople and remove it from Russian hands. Future historians would point out that the perception was on par with the British insistence that Russia was intent on invading the British Raj.

The general consensus was that the Anglo-French/Russian War of 1870 (or the 3rd Anglo-Afghan War) would be a tremendous waste of resources which bled all three nations. It was brought about by the lack of communication between Great Britain and Russia and the often incomprehensible schemes of Napoleon III.

San Francisco

The San Francisco shipyards (the only significant one on the west coast) would deliver the first of three new Kalamazoo-class Ironclads to the Empire in 1873. The next two would arrive in early 1874. Due to the defeat to China in the previous conflict, the Emperor authorized the rapid expansion of the Navy. Though the purchase nearly broke him, the Emperor would find a way to pay off the Americans.

What he did NOT realize was that two older Kalamazoo-class vessels had been sold to Chinese government by the American navy.

With several Massachusetts-class ships in service, four more in production and the new, unnamed new generation vessels being laid down, the Americans knew that the older vessels were no longer capable. As the new heavy steel-hulled vessels were extremely expensive to build and maintain, the United States Navy was rapidly retiring old and obsolete vessels that had served in the Civil War.
Chapter 129
June, 1873

Mosquito Coast

The British had long disputed the coastal Caribbean regions of Nicaragua. This region had long been utilized by slave-owning timber cutters (much like British Honduras to the north) in the days of slavery. Now, mixed race descendants would dominate the lightly populated realm. The British public cared little about the region and there were few people who wanted to retain the land. The British government had a deal set up in 1860 to hand over this land to Nicaragua but that fell apart at the last minute.

By 1873, the British were less interested in giving ANYTHING up, relations with Nicaragua be damned.

German Confederation

For the third year in a row, the feuding German states would perform maneuvers. Eventually, corrections would be made in the maneuvers regarding transportation, supply and the Commissariat.

With all the errors, the Germans were still moving men and equipment faster than any other army had done before.


Of the 260,000 or so soldiers on the Subcontinent, only about 30,000 were British (or other European). The rest were Native Indian, largely of minority groups. However, the resentment over the mass slaughter of the past three years (for no effect) and the obvious disproportionate number of those soldiers marching into the Russian guns being Indian could not be missed.

Riots would break out throughout the subcontinent and, this time, the bulk of the British Indian Army would not support the crown. Few outright rebelled but most would refuse to march and often sat for weeks in their billets. Attempts by British officers to discipline them into obedience occasionally worked....but often didn't.

The Mutiny of 1873 would be led not by soldiers or Rajas or Princes or Mughal Emperors....but by the common man led by the educated classes of the Indian Subcontinent.

While the death toll may have been lower, the ramifications would be far reaching.


A riot would break out in the heart of the French Empire. The Parisian mob, hearing stories of French colonial slaughter and exodus from Africa, would leave the Capital in chaos for days.
Chapter 130
July, 1873

Algiers, North Africa

For the first time in two years, the British Army arrived in North Africa to assist the Moroccans and Algerians against the beleaguered French garrison in Algiers, the last significant possession in North Africa. With British domination of the Mediterranean at sea and the shocking transference of Egypt's alliance to Britain.

This would encourage and embolden the British to ship several regiments of British infantry and, more importantly, heavy artillery (siege) weapons, to aid the Berber-Arabs in reducing Algiers.

The Royal Navy had destroyed many of the outer bastions in the past months leaving the city vulnerable. The naval assault had caused much destruction but the desperate French refused to give in, knowing that to surrender was to surrender the last remnant of French North Africa. Now the French colonists would face the prospect of a full assault from the landward side as well.

Over 100,000 Berber-Arabs now besieged the city and now had the alliance of 5000 British regulars 2500 Artillery men bearing the most modern cannon and mortars. While the British had attempted restraint in their prior bombardments, hoping to avoid civilian casualties, this would be abandoned. Anything to reduce the city was acceptable.

Hungry, low on war supplies (particularly powder and shot), the French resolutely prepared for the final assault. The Algiers garrison held 15,000 French Regulars and 30,000 French civilians.

In a gesture of humanity, the British commander offered to allow free passage for the civilians back to the Metropolis. This was accepted by over 12,000. This was a bit of a controversy as it was thought that removing mouths to feed would allow the garrison to hold out longer. However, the opposite view held that removing the last of the French civilians would reduce the impetus for the French to hold to the bitter end.

Rio de Janeiro

With the peace (and the return of the Emperor), the Brazilian government would concentrate on increasing the nation's supply of free labor. Contracts were offered to Europeans (preferably Catholic but not exclusive) for well-educated through menial laborers. Brazil's economy needed a source of labor to grow in the industrial sector.

Soon, large numbers of Italians, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Welsh, Russians, Poles, Jews, etc would be arriving in large numbers in Brazil's ports. Some came even as far as China and Japan.

New Hebrides Islands (Vanuatu)

Though it had a small population, the French administrators would nevertheless feel the reach of the British Empire as the islands fell to the Royal Navy and Austrians troops. The Nww Hebrides had been "co-governed" by Britain and France but no more. The French settlers were removed to mainland Australia for the remainder of the conflict and the islands annexed to the Dominion of Australia in the name of Queen Victoria, much as New Caledonia had been.


For most of its history the French "colony" of Senegal had been restricted to the island of Goree. Since 1854, the French moved inland, began large scale agriculture (largely nuts) and made treaties with the interior. Soon Senegal was a "model colony". It had been ignored in the past war but the Royal Navy was unwilling to sit any longer.

Senegal was seized by British forces.


With a mixture of violent rebellion and thought-provoking public debate, the Indian population would rise up and protest British governance. Boycotts of British products became common. Regional commanders, aware of how badly outnumbered they were, would be hesitant to come down too hard on non-violent resistance. Arresting men and women for publicly calling on their fellows not to buy British products only led to more problems.

Over half the British Indian Army refused their commanders' orders, instead "striking" in their barracks.

Even Indian civil servants joined in.

This second mutiny was not remotely as deadly as the last but threw the subcontinent in terrible turmoil.
Chapter 131
August, 1873


After weeks of rioting and effective anarchy, the French Regiments managed to put down the July revolt. However, everyone remembered the lesson of Louis XVI and Napoleon III knew the fragility of his throne.

His attempt to separate Britain from India had failed to bring low the British Empire. Instead, all he'd accomplished with his co-belligerence (it was a stretch to call it an alliance by this point) was to weaken Britain a bit....and France a great deal.

Like Britain, Napoleon III would spend the next few months trying to find leverage at the inevitable negotiating table. In Napoleon III's case, he would gamble everything to try to regain control over North Africa. Huge numbers of transports, cargo ships and warships were gathered along the southern coast of France. With Britain's attention focused upon other places, the Royal Navy could not be everywhere at once (could it?). Britain had to protect the channel, the West Indies, the East Indies, the Pacific, the Suez region, South Africa, West Africa and, most importantly, Malta and Gibraltar.

This had allowed France to assemble the bulk of her fleet over the years to attack outnumbered British squadrons.

Of course, nothing could be MORE obvious than a sudden buildup of resources along the French Riviera. Marseille, Nice and other ports were soon overloaded with ships intended to bear 40,000 troops with ample supplies and the bulk of the French Fleet (not just the Mediterranean fleet, the GLOBAL fleet) to protect them.

The Royal Navy's Mediterranean squadron, seeing the writing on the wall, would mass at Malta, for what many imagined would be the pivotal battle of the war.


While open rebellion and less-violent protests swept across the country, the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Lucan, would keep an eye on the Russian forces in Afghanistan for he was certain they would invade at any moment to take advantage of the British chaos.

Within weeks, the situation deteriorated as unrest reached every corner of the British Raj.

Oddly, the Russians did not move from their mountain posts. Even more strangely, this was to the British disadvantage and little would bring the striking Indian troops to heel faster than a foreign invasion. Instead, Lord Lucan kept the bulk of his forces in the Peshwar Valley to guard against a non-existent threat. This left the rest of the British forces quite unable to regain control over the country.

In truth, the Russians never had the slightest intention of invading India as the Czar's forces were far more intent on maintaining order in the Middle East and expanding into the plains of Central Asia and to the Pacific.

Great Britain

Word finally arrived in August that a second rebellion was in process. Almost immediately, fresh regiments were dispatched from Britain to India numbering more than 12,000. It would take months for them to arrive but nothing could be more shocking to the British system than a threat to India.

William Gladstone, who had been biding his time for years, began to lay the ground for a vote of no-confidence. His negotiations with the Irish MP's seeking Home Rule were going well....he just needed ONE more little disaster.


Alexander II was known by many names.

He was the "Liberator Czar" who abolished feudalism in Russia and later Poland, the Ukraine, etc. He freed 6 times as many serfs as Lincoln did slaves.
The Finns called him the "Good Czar" for his championing of the Finns who had languished under Swedish domination for centuries.
The peoples of the Balkans called him the "Savoir Czar" who finally crushed the hated Ottoman Empire beneath his boot.
The Orthodox Christians hailed him as the rescuer of the Holy City of Constantinople.
The Poles called him.....well, very few things fit for polite society.

The Czar had been an ardent modernizer improved education, the transport system (Russia now had more miles of track than any European country, though that was not hard given the sheer size of the country), the military. He tried to bring the Church and the Courts into the 19th century.

In truth, no single man or woman had affected Russian life in history. And all of this he did in less than 20 years.

But the demand for reform continued. He agreed to set up regional elected councils for towns and villages. These would lead to elected majors and councils of small cities, then large. But the people always wanted more.

Now, he was being pressed for the embodiment of a full and perpetual Duma. In truth, he was not totally opposed as the Czar often felt overwhelmed by the sheer paperwork of the nation. If a Duma could hand that, he'd be grateful. However, he was also an autocrat and felt anything he COULD handle, he should without uninvited advice.

The costs of the Afghan War were growing and this was reducing his popularity no matter how many reforms he passed.

Still, the Czar plodded on, not knowing anything else to do.