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

Map of North America - 1905
Fenians - 1905 - North America.png
Chapter 313
October 31st, 1905

Vancouver Island

The belated acceptance of Congress for admission to statehood had been finally received after a review of the Vancouver census. For years, Columbia and Yakima had dueled for annexation of the island. The residents of Vancouver stalled this long enough to gain adequate population for statehood. This process had been slowed by questions in Congress if the island was truly capable of long-term self-sufficiency (often postulated by representatives of Yakima and Columbia).

However, President McKinley's public support was enough to throw the vote towards Vancouver.

Moskito Coast

After years of economic collapse, infighting and political chaos, the Moskito Coast would vote to be annexed by Mexico....pending an agreement regarding Indian lands. For the past 40 years, Mexico had willingly respected Indian land claims via a mix of traditional landsharing and "American-style" reservation systems.

That was the primary concern that the Moskito and other tribes had. In truth, once the english-speaking creoles had been evicted from their shores, the economy had collapsed and the Moskito returned to a state resembling pre-European contact. This may have been welcomed by some but clearly allowed for aggression by Nicaragua. Mexico, at least, would respect the Indian land claims and carry on with the business of government.

Northern Atlantic - 1400 miles east of New York

The USS Salem (also the name of the class) and her sister ship USS Atlanta were among the newer models of "destroyer", a recent term used for lighter, faster and smaller vessels often equipped with torpedoes as well as guns.

Only by happenstance did the two ships spy the incoming column of 10 European heavy vessels and escorts lumbering westward. While the United States had not yet been dragged into the conflagration in Europe, it seemed only a matter of time. Witnessing (at great distance) flags of three different nations, the American skippers would communicate via signal to return to port at best speed. The foreign activity was suspicious as the French/Italian/Spanish vessels (the Americans had discerned individual flags) as they were sailing into the teeth of contrary currents (in this region, most shipping flowed east, while vessels sailing to the Americas took a more southerly route). More so, the minor fact that these nations were at war with Great Britain hinted that sailing as far south from the reach of the Royal Navy as they could might behoove them.

The Spanish at least had business in the western hemisphere given that King Alphonso still possessed colonies, albeit rebelling ones. But what reason could the French and Italians have this far north?

Typically, the odd French ship may sail to Brazil but there was no reason to do so at this latitude.
The Americans deemed the sight worth reporting......IMMEDIATELY.......to their commander in New York Harbor.

November 4th, 1905

New York Harbor

Admiral George Dewey had been surprised to personally see two of his destroyers steaming at full speed into New York Harbor. Dewey had, by happenstance, been inspecting the Maryland-class USS Mescalero when he ordered the Mescalero's signalman to hail the two vessels and demand to know why they'd returned to port two days early. The USS Salem would abruptly turn towards the Mescalero, barely slowly down. Even as the launch was lowered from her sides by the rapidly skittering crew, the Salem was signaling back "Foreign warships sighted due east".

Minutes later, the 28-year-old Lieutenant Commander of the Salem would board, barely taking the time to salute, and report that at least sixteen European vessels of the Latin Alliance was currently sailing west towards New York. Dewey pondering the matter for about 10 seconds and could think of no reason why such a large force would be in this area at this time during a war other than an attack. The Latin Alliance simply did not have ships to spare to take such a roundabout route to Cuba and then have them sit in a harbor.

If the Frenchies and Spanish and Italians were heading this way, they could only be up to no good. Dewey allowed the Salem's commander to estimate that, by the speed of the foreign vessels, that they may reach the American coast in 36 to 48 hours depending on if the entire fleet sailed at the speed of its slowest vessel. Dewey knew he could not count upon that (HE certainly would not wait for a couple of slow cruisers).

He ordered the Salem to take on coal immediately (and to pass that on to the Atlanta) before turning to the Mescalero's Captain ordering him to sail for the harbor's mouth. The rest of the fleet would join shortly. Fortunately, President McKinley's directive for all US Navy ships to be on alert had been followed as best they could. No active-duty ship was to be without a full load of coal and ammunition while at least 80% crew must be on board at all times.

Dewey thought perhaps this was overkill at the time but now was grateful that he'd followed through as diligently as resources allowed. As commander of the Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Dewey's headquarters were in New York but his ships were spread across multiple bases along the eastern seaboard. Returning to his office, he immediately ordered his staff to telegraph all American ships in Norfolk and Savannah to go on "High Alert", meaning if that any base commander or ship's captain was caught with his pants down, he'd be counting pencils in a warehouse in Annapolis for the rest of his career.

Naturally, the Admiralty and Secretary of the Navy was informed of this development but Dewey didn't bother to wait for a response to act.

He also, out of courtesy, had the message sent to Britain via the Atlantic telegraph and to Bermuda (a telegraph to that British outpost had been laid only the previous summer with the intent of reaching southern Europe) as well. To the best of Dewey's knowledge, the Bermuda squadron had been cut bare but there was always a chance that Bermuda was the target. Warning the British of an enemy fleet near their waters was stretching the bounds of "neutrality" but Dewey considered the situation dangerous enough that he was willing to endure a slap on the wrists later if need be.

In the meantime, Dewey would sail out of New York that very evening with every American ship of the line he could muster: the Maryland-class USS Mescalero, the older Dakota-class Maine and Arizona, the even older Louisiana-class USS Massachusetts and Virginia as well as half a dozen lighter frigates and cruisers.

Unfortunately for the Americans, the Iowa-Class USS Montana and Maryland-class USS Florida were not available. The Florida was on maneuvers with the British off of the Maritimes while the Montana was in drydock for two months getting new engines (a problem with the Iowa-class). That left only the modern Mescalero and four older-model heavy ships as New York's first line of defense.
Chapter 314
November 5th, 1905


The Secretary of the Navy, Alfred Mahan (retired Admiral) and the Naval Chief of Staff, Admiral Richard Wainwright, and two of Wainwright's senior officers would enter the Presidential office. McKinley shook the hands of each before getting down to business.

"All right, gentlemen, what is all this hubbub about?"

Mahan spoke first, "Well, Mr. President, a large Latin Alliance fleet was sighted a week ago where it ought not to be. Thus, Admiral Dewey took the initiative to put the Atlantic fleet on high alert."

Gesturing the sailors towards some chairs, McKinley sat back along his desk and folded his hands, "Ought not to be?"

"There are only so many reasons for such a large force to be in North American waters.....and none of them are good."

"Is there no rational explanation?" the President demanded.

Mahan nodded towards Wainwright who replied for them, "Rational, Mr. President? War is seldom rational but there seems to be no logical reason for French, Italian and Spanish ships to be in that area at this time. The vessels are sailing AGAINST the currents in an area where most shipping sails east, not west. There could be a.....rationale......explanation...but I'm finding that very unlikely."

"Such as?" the President prompted.

Wainwright sighed, "Mr. President, I am not a psychic and cannot read the minds of our Latin friends. However, it is possible that the fleet may be trying to avoid the British Royal Navy on the more typical southerly route which crosses west closer to the mid-Atlantic, even as far south as west Africa. In war, such measures of deception are taken sometimes though this seems an extreme example as it would put the fleet within potential detection by the Royal Navy's Maritime Squadron, Bermuda, the West Indies squadron, etc."

McKinley ruminated, "So this may be simply an.....out-of-the-way.....measure to avoid the Royal Navy out of Gibraltar?" McKinley was not a naval man but could read a map well enough. "Maybe the allied fleet is heading towards Havana to send a message to us.....or simply on to Brazil as our intelligence indicated Emperor Pedro demanded a squadron to protect his nation as a price of his fealty to the Latin Alliance?"

"That is possible, sir," Mahan intoned.

McKinley didn't like not knowing but had personally chosen these men for their naval knowledge. Being from Ohio didn't exactly make for skill at seamanship.

"What do you think the chances are that this is an attack on America as opposed to some other reason, gentlemen?" McKinley asked instead. The exasperated expressions lent ample evidence that this was an impossible question to answer.

Still, Mahan gave it a go. "Mr. President, if god were to come in and ask that same question, I'd shrug and say.....20% this is an assault on America, 20% this is an assault on the British Maritimes, 20% that this is an odd route to reach Havana, 20% that this is an odd route to reach Brazil and 20%........well......20% something else that can't be explained."

For this, McKinley smirked. "Nothing like hedging your bets, eh, gentlemen?"

"In truth, I understand. We can't divine Latin Alliance motives. Maybe we should have spent more time cultivating spies in Europe over the past few decades. Well, I suppose I may find out this afternoon," the President tapped on his desk, his eyes elsewhere.

"This afternoon, sir?" Mahan prompted, confused.

"Yes, an hour ago, the French Ambassador requested an audience this afternoon. He mentioned that he would bring the Spanish and Italian Ambassadors as well. I thought, perhaps, that they wanted....."

The alarmed expressions on the face of the four sailing men said it all. McKinley flushed, cursing his own stupidity. He'd thought nothing of the request as the Latin Alliance Ambassadors had been requesting regular meetings to complain about American neutrality.....or lack of it.....and remind America that Cuba was still Spanish territory and that Brazil continued to demand the return of the lands north of the Amazon.....and......one thing after another that routinely crop up when the world seems intent on going to war.

"Of course, gentlemen. That was never intended to be another polite sit-down to air grievances, was it?"

"I suspect not, sir," Mahan replied.

Wainwright didn't even waste time being polite. He turned his head to his subordinates and ordered, "Telegraph a message to all stations to go on High Alert. Make sure that Dewey is warned as well. Get a ship to send him the latest immediately after the President's......audience......with the Latins."

Without asking for permission to depart, the two junior sailors would stand, nod to the President and race out of the office.
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Where is Mexico in this fight? They are by *far* the most significant power in the Americas (and probably one of the most significant Catholic power) not to have taken sides in this war.

(Actually, I forgot about a Catholic country in the Americas, Quebec, but frankly, if either Ontario or Quebec does anything for the Latin alliance, they'll be steamrolled in months)
Where is Mexico in this fight? They are by *far* the most significant power in the Americas (and probably one of the most significant Catholic power) not to have taken sides in this war.

(Actually, I forgot about a Catholic country in the Americas, Quebec, but frankly, if either Ontario or Quebec does anything for the Latin alliance, they'll be steamrolled in months)
I think Mexico would be a US friendly neutral in this war, as they still have memories of the French intervention and could stand to make a lot of money by helping to supply the US and engaging in something similar to the Braceros program.

As for Quebec, if its leaders have anything resembling half a brain cell, they would do well to remain neutral and disavow any Degaulle-esque 'Long live free Quebec' rhetoric coming out of France.
Where is Mexico in this fight? They are by *far* the most significant power in the Americas (and probably one of the most significant Catholic power) not to have taken sides in this war.

(Actually, I forgot about a Catholic country in the Americas, Quebec, but frankly, if either Ontario or Quebec does anything for the Latin alliance, they'll be steamrolled in months)

Mexico would be neutral as I suspect would be Quebec.
I mean for Mexico it could probably be convinced to join in just by two main reasons sticking the middle finger to France and Spain due to historical reasons and by offering control of some of the caribian Spanish colonies.
Chapter 315
November 6th, 1905


The aging Captain William Rufus Shafter hailed from Michigan (Galesburg) and had been given the honor of Captaining the USS Michigan on her shakedown cruises in the environs of Norfolk. While only about 70% manned, the American vessel was escorted by a pair of light frigates, the USS Chicago and USS Tallahassee.

For the past month, the USS Michigan had tested her engines, guns, etc to......generally.....good results. However, one of the boilers kept bursting and would probably have to be replaced. This kept the Michigan's speed down to about 16 kph.

The ship had barely returned from a week-long shakedown cruise when the commander of the Naval Yard immediately motored out to the Michigan before it could even drop anchor. The orders were shocking.

"Is this real?!" Shafter demanded.

A shrug was all he could get. But the orders were clear enough. The crews and dock personnel worked through the night to load shells, powder, coal and anything else on hand to the Michigan, Chicago and Tallahassee. To Shafter's surprise, the USS Montana had also been ordered out to sea despite her refit not yet being complete. The Iowa-class vessel was upgrading her guns to 12 inchers and only the fore-guns had been delivered. The aft had been removed but not replaced.

Still, orders were orders. The following morning, the ships would sail forth out of Norfolk en route to New York.

Eastern Siberia

The Chinese Ministers would learn of the weakness of the Russians in their war in the west (the Baltic fleet had been humbled, several regions of Russia were in rebellion and the Russian Army had been repulsed by the Germans.

By this point, the Chinese army had sufficiently scouted the Russian supply line via Siberia (the trans-continental railroad was unfinished and what had been built apparently already rotting via poor construction). Without access to eastern Siberia via land, the Russians would not be able to threaten China any distance east of Xinjiang.

The Emperor was not prepared to order troops forward....but the situation would be monitored over the winter.


Having received the final complaints of the Latin Alliance on November 5th, President McKinley would formally summon Congress and inform them of the development. Stunned, an outcry arose over both the presumption and injustice of such an action.

A formal declaration of war itself was not yet made on behalf of the Americans but McKinley knew it was best to let things percolate over a couple of days before formally requesting the same.

McKinley did not bother telling the Ambassadors of the detection of their fleet. Doing so would not in any way alter what was to come......... one way or another.

20 miles east of New York Harbor

Admiral George Dewey would sail out of New York Harbor in two columns:

The heaviest ships - the USS Mescalero, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Virginia - would sail in the vanguard while half a dozen lighter ships would sail in a second line, only to act according to orders from Dewey or, if deemed prudent, that of their commander as circumstances saw fit.

Dewey hoped that the intelligence provided by the the Salem and Atlanta would prove....well, inaccurate was unlikely....but perhaps not so hostile in intentions as one may assume.

As the smoke rose of multiple funnels on the horizon, Dewey knew his hopes were about to be dashed.

Putting himself into the minds of the French, Spanish and Italian commanders, the Admiral understood the Latin Alliance's actions in a way the typical American could not. Most Americans would be outraged that foreign nations would declare war upon a nation which, in the eyes of his people, would be unjust. However, Dewey also understood the logistics of war and the reality of being a nation well removed from the conflagration ongoing in Europe. While some may see this as a good thing (and many American DID as it meant that America itself could and would rarely be threatened from abroad), it also meant America's ability to influence a war directly would be limited.

Up until this point, trade with Britain proceeded apace. As a "neutral" under the rules of war, America may still provide goods to Great Britain though some direct war material was considered unacceptable. The Latin Alliance (and Russia) could not halt American ships at sea unless carrying "contraband" products and could only expect American shipping to be turned away if they actively blockaded a combatant's port. Of course, these long-held rules were starting to fall by the wayside in a modern age as they seemed less likely to be logical and valid once the human race moved past the age of sail.

From a European perspective, America was in some ways more dangerous as a neutral than as a combatant. As a neutral, most of the American shipping (including the all-important grain shipments) could continue to flow into Britain without much hindrance. Once in the war, American shipping to Britain would be fair game for the fast lighter patrol ships of the Latin Alliance.

Of course, the United States Navy and Army may have something to say about that.....unless the cream of the Atlantic fleet was isolated, outnumbered and surprised in New York before it could be assembled into a concentrated force. Even now, the Atlantic fleet was scattered across multiple ports. The Caribbean Squadron was smaller and obvious more focused on South American issues (both Brazil and Chile had gotten uppity). The Pacific Fleet was too far away and had its own problems protecting wide-spread Pacific holdings.

A powerful strike in New York, Dewey reasoned, would severely limit America's capacity to intervene in a war many believed America was destined to enter sooner or later anyway. It all made a cruel sense. The destruction of an unready Atlantic squadron and a probable assault on New York's vast shipping and warehouse district would likely cripple American capacity to resist. He doubted the Latins believed America would cower away in fear. America, like most nations, was proud to the point of folly. Naturally, a declaration of war was going to take place but on the Latin Alliance's terms and timeframe.

As this was not the 18th century, it was impossible to just buy a bunch of merchant ships, arm them and send them off to war as warships. No, the massive steel monstrosities of the age of steam often took years to build. Even at an expedited pace and men working around the clock, it would be months before the next American ship was launched, years before new steel warships of significant quantities could be added.

The loss of the Atlantic Squadron would be devastating for America.

Seeing how badly he was now outnumbered didn't make him feel any better. In truth, most "peacetime" ships of the line were not on active duty at any particular point. Even those not "in mothballs", there were frequently large percentage of ships being refitted, recrewed, etc. Had it not been for the order to High Alert months ago, the Atlantic squadron would have been hard pressed to raise anchor of half of her "capital ships" and even these would have been scattered across multiple bases.

As best his spotters could tell, there appeared to be at least 10 capital ships and 6 lighter vessels approaching. That outnumbered his 5 capital ships and 6 escort. As the enemy approached, Dewey's heart would sink even further as it was obvious that two of the French vessels were of the new variety. Only the Mescalero was an equal to them. Worse, at the vanguard of the fleet was the new titan of the seas, the Italian Cuniberti-class Cuniberti Until, the HMS Dreadnaught was launched the following year, the Cuniberti and the Michigan were probably the two most powerful ships afloat.

The problem was that the Cuniberti was here....and the Michigan was still undergoing trials to the south.

The Cuniberti


Still, his duty clear, Dewey sailed forward and, bit by bit, his spotters were able to identify most of the enemy ships. If the Cuniberti and the two modern French ships weren't present, he would be quite confident even his hastily assembled force could have thrown back the invaders.

Ah, well, he thought. Nothing to do about that now.

At 12,000 yards, nearly the range of the American 13 inch guns, the French opened fire.

Well, he realized, at least we know who fired first and can claim the right. He wondered if there had been some sort of declaration of war, not that it mattered much to Dewey or his men.

The American fleet sailed in two lines, the heavy ships on the inside and the lighter ones on the outside with orders only to "join the line" if the allied fleet attempts to utilize torpedoes (mostly emplaced upon the lighter vessels). Otherwise, the frigates and corvettes were to remain out of range. There was no point in them exchanging fire with heavier ships.

In rapid succession, the Americans would strike first, hitting both the Cuniberti and one of the French vessels. Another (older) Italian ship would be hit twice and catch fire. But all of the enemy heavy vessels would remain under steam. Only the Virginia would suffer a hit on the first volleys of the battle.

To Dewey's surprise, the enemy would not be so kind to their lighter escorts. The frigates, destroyers, et all, would sail behind the heavier ships and exchange fire with the Americans. This was absurd in Dewey's mind and a waste of life. Two of the smaller ships bearing the Spanish flag were struck in succession, one being broken in half by a 13-inch shell and the other suffering a puncture near the waterline which tore through the thin three-inch armor as though it were made of paper. Struck near the aft, the engine room was ruined, the props dislodged and the ship shuddered to a stop.

Dewey considered this a waste of hundreds of good men and perhaps an indication of the "group decision making" of the invaders. If so, the Admiral thought as both fleets turned to engage again, we may get out of this yet.

The next pass would not go as well. American gunnery again took its tool upon the Latin Alliance fleet but the enemy soon got the range itself. The USS Massachusetts, an old Louisiana-class cruiser was hit by a combination of French and Spanish guns. Still, aflame, the ship sailed on. It was here that an Italian vessel took first blood upon the USS Mescalero as a shell rocked the aft deck. Then the USS Virginia took a shell, killing most of her command staff.

In return, the Americans would hit one of the smaller Italian cruisers three times in quick succession. Within minutes, the ship would start to burn. Within 10, her captain would order all hands to the lifeboats.

One of those damned French heavy cruisers, the two of which had caused most of the damage to the American fleet via their expert gunner, would suffer a hit as well, dismounting a forward gun and killing dozens.

Once again, the lighter vessels of the rear would exchange blows again with the five heavy American ships at a cost of the loss of an Italian Frigate (which outright exploded) and a French Corvette losing her main gun. The latter would fall out of line.

The third pass would be the most damaging.

The American guns would strike the Cuniberti twice....to little effect. The older of the three French capital ships was struck twice as well. An hour later, water rushing into the ship's wounds near the waterline would force the vessel to be abandoned.

The American vessels would suffer the worst of this round as the USS Virginia, already fighting a blaze, would be hit three times, tearing her apart and capsizing her within five minutes. Most of the crew would sink below the waves. The Massachusetts would also be hit multiple times and catch fire. Falling out of line, she would be abandoned to her fate by her surviving crew.

The Dakota-class Arizona and Maine would suffer their first blow as well. Only the Mescalero avoided damage this time.

Lumbering about, the American fleet (what was left of it) slowed and turned for yet another exchange. Smelling blood, the allies did the same.

The American ships would demand a terrible blood price. Already the allies had lost one older Italian Capital ship and three frigates/corvettes. This next pass would cost them the oldest of the French capital ships and the best of the Spanish (though none of the four Spanish capital ships were a match for the least of their allied vessels) cruisers. A second Spanish vessel was struck badly while both the remaining French cruisers suffered lesser blows.

The luck of the Arizona and Maine continued to degrade. Having avoided hits in the first two exchanges, they would take shells in the next two passes. Both, though, survived the fourth exchange under power, though the Maine's fore-guns were lost. The Arizona was battling a fire in her aft compartments. Fortunately, the design improvements of the past 10 years (and retrofitting) to avoid explosions of ammunition had worked.

The Mescalero would be hit twice more, none killing blows but one of her gun barrels was bent and made useless while a moderate-sized hole was opened in her bowels. Fortunately, the compartment was sealed and the damaged contained. Counterflooding would allow the Mescalero to remain balanced so she may continue to fight.

The fifth exchange would prove to be the last and among the bloodiest.

A second Spanish heavy ship would be hit amidships and nearly be broken in half. Both of the remaining French capital ships took additional blows but not fatal. A Italian Corvette which had unwisely continued to follow the line was severely damaged as well.

All three remaining American capital ships would be struck. A fire would be set on the Maine and a blow near the waterline would put the Arizona in danger. Both Captains knew their ships could not continue. They signaled to the Mescalero that they must drop out of the line. As they were steaming north at the time, they continued on towards the dubious safety of Boston.

The Mescalero would be hit again and again. Like a punch drunk fighter, the ship turned back into the enemy line only to discover that their signaling officer had been taken by a shell and Dewey belatedly learned that the Arizona and Maine were no longer following.

Still, her guns blazing at one ship after another, the Mescalero would pass the entire line, hitting the Cuniberti twice (not badly) and mauling the other remaining Italian ship of the line. Ironically, the feared Cuniberti hadn't hit ANYTHING due to bad luck and bad gunnery.

In response, the French and Spanish vessels behind the Italians would strike four more blows upon the Mescalero. One by one the guns were silenced. Holes in the hull became gaping wounds and, finally, the engine department flooded. While not sinking, the lack of power doomed the ship. Fires spread and the Americans were forced to strike their colors and abandon ship.

The Atlantic Squadron had lost three capital ships and seen two others forced to retreat north. The support vessels, ordered not to engage in a line battle, had all but escaped harm (one of the frigate Captains unwisely strayed too close the line and had his conning tower shot out from under him). The lighter ships would retreat south knowing that they did not want to be caught in New York Harbor.

Admiral Dewey would expire upon his bridge. As best he could tell, his fleet had sunk at least four enemy capital ships (the oldest of the three French capital ships, the oldest of the three Italian Capital ships and the two most modern Spanish ships). In addition, five of the remaining six allied ships of the line had taken hits but only one of the Spanish vessels was badly damaged. There was also the loss of three frigate/corvettes and another badly damaged.

The Americans had taken a butchers bill for their own blood but the three most powerful ships in the allied Fleet - the Cuniberti and the two modern Loire-class heavy cruisers, were still in fighting shape.

Realizing the Latin Alliance fleet wasn't even stopping to claim the burning Mescalero, Dewey would smile as he realized they were heading towards New York Harbor. Though the first line of defense had been breached, the Admiral had spent years preparing for the second line.

As he took his final breath, he wondered how the enemy would enjoy his little surprise.
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Chapter 316
November 7th, 1905

New York Harbor

Though New York had long been the economic center for America, the massive, expansive harbor would be entirely impossible to protect via conventional means (i.e. fortresses). While there had been fortresses in New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn, etc for centuries, even the most modern guns could not cover even a fraction of the Harbor. Thus, New York would be home to the lion's share of the Atlantic Fleet of the US Navy.

However, the fleet had been defeated the previous day. There had been enough civilian traffic through that attested to that fact.

As darkness fell the night of November 6th, the allied forces would halt a few miles out of New York, knowing the city would be there the following day. By dawn, what wounds which could be treated by the exhausted and bloodied French, Italian and Spanish crews were treated. Then the eight remaining functional ships of the Latin Alliance fleet would sail for the Lower Bay between Brooklyn and Staten Island confident that if the Americans had any heavy ships left in the region, they would have been deployed the previous day. Instead, the allies would merely be expected to suffer a few potshots from the largely obsolete fortification in Brooklyn (Bay Ridge) and Staten Island (St. George). Spies had reported no 10, 12 or 13 inch gun emplacements as of the previous summer. It was unlikely that they had upgrade since then. Peacetime had a way of generating complacency....which the Americans would soon pay the price.

Once through the petty fortifications, the allies could pummel the economic and trade center of America. Even if this did not force the Americans to terms, it would paralyze the American economy and war effort for months, maybe years. This was especially vital as the Brooklyn Naval Yard remained the largest American shipyard, even more productive than Norfolk. With that shipyard destroyed....along with half a dozen warships in various stages of construction.....the Americans would take much longer to become relevant again on the high seas. And given America's location, irrelevance on the high seas made them irrelevant in total.

Rear Admiral Felice Canevaro commanded the allied fleet by virtue of bearing the most powerful ship, the Cuniberti, and no other reason. The French Captains would resent this but were effectively ordered to shut up. This was a political decision but a good one. Canevaro was a decorated officer with battle experience.

The Admiral, seeing the disconnect between the various allied fleets, had deliberately kept the previous day's battle plan as simple as possible for fear that miscommunication would through the fleet into confusion. Thus, Canevaro ordered the fleet to simply follow the Cuniberti no matter what. If the Cuniberti was lost, then follow the next ship in line. It was not a strategy for the ages akin to Trafalgar but it worked. Canevaro's only regret was not ordering the smaller escort vessels from the area. They had suffered terribly as a result.

However, Canevaro had not expected the Americans to joust with his obviously superior fleet FIVE TIMES!

Now his fleet was down to the Cuniberti, the older Milan, the two French Loire class ships Loire and Seine, two Spanish cruiser and only two remaining escort ships. Another Spanish cruiser and an escort ship, both badly damaged, would wait outside the harbor for towing home after New York was taught a lesson.

Sailing between Staten Island and Brooklyn at 8:30 in the morning, the Italian commander was confused. Yes, he saw some American merchant ships fleeing. That was expected and he was hardly going to try to seize or sink hundreds of merchant ships. This was not particularly honorable in his mind, anyway.

But it was the lack of land-based artillery that surprised him. Had the Americans completely ABANDONED their fortifications?

The only answer was an explosion 500 yards to his starboard. A massive funnel of water and a hellish clang rocked the French cruiser Loire, the ship obviously badly hit.

But how?

Canevaro had heard no cannonfire. Finally, a junior officer pointed out an odd concrete bunker near the water's edge. What was that?

A discernable trail of sped out from the bunker off the coast of Brooklyn. It took only a moment for the Admiral's mind to collect and shout "Torpedo!"

Fortunately, this particular torpedo was either poorly aimed or failed to run true. It passed 50 yards aft of the Cuniberti and struck a mud embankment a minute later on Staten island. The Loire was plainly badly hurt but the rest of the fleet was rapidly reaching the relative safety of the Upper Bay. From here, the Admiral could clearly see Manhattan ahead under the cheery November sky. To the east a few miles along Long Island's coast would be the Brooklyn Naval Yards.

Still shaken by the land-based torpedo launch, the entire convoy would sail into the middle of the Upper Bay as if to seek protection of distance from any further land-based weapons. However, the danger was only beginning.

From the southwest between Staten Island and New Jersey steamed two Destroyers which he suspected (correctly) were the same two which had spied his fleet days before. Though he did could not recognize them as the USS Salem and USS Atlanta, he knew that the smaller ships did not carry guns capable of damaging his heavier vessels....until he recalled these vessels also carried torpedoes. A shout from the opposite end of the bridge would bring attention to a pair of older torpedo boats sailing from the opposite direction from the East River between Manhattan and Long Island.

A perfect entrapment, Canevaro thought with awe. I should have considered this. The Americans are reputed to having the best torpedoes on earth after a generation of research. What were they called? Whiteheads?

It appeared that all four of these ships bore two torpedoes, each aiming their prows directly at the broadsides of the nearest allied vessels. To their credit, Canevaro did not need to signal his fleet to act. He likely would not have had time anyway in the close quarters of the Upper Bay. Eight allied ships promptly gave up any pretense of cohesion and would begin spiraling crazily in hopes of avoiding the torpedoes. Every gun at their disposal began firing in hopes of landing a shot at the small, fast and, for the moment, extremely deadly American ships.

Knowing that a single shot from a heavy ship-of-the-line would shatter their vessels, the American sailors nevertheless steamed forward, heedless of the danger. The Italian Admiral had to fight the urge to give them a formal salute as the Cuniberti's Captain bellowed instructions.

The ensuing melee seemed to take hours though Canevaro was sure it was only a few minutes. After all, the entire bay was only a few miles wide. Soon, the destroyers from the southwest would loose their first torpedoes into the mass of vessels rapidly turning. By happenstance, the Seine would suffer one strike along the hull near her stern. The huge ship visibly rocked. Luck was with the fleet again as the other torpedo somehow missed the crazily spinning allied ships.

One of the American destroyers was struck by what was obviously a heavy round as the ship convulsed as if shaken by a giant. Losing all power, the ship was settling within seconds as her stern had effectively disintegrated.

The second destroyer, seeing the fate of his compatriots, would not waste time. At 1/2 mile, the ship loosed his second torpedo and obviously turned to flee at best speed. Huge splashes of cannon fire would erupt on all sides of her. Providence would be with the allies again as the torpedo, probably badly aimed, would miss again.

However, the two older torpedo boats were also approaching from the northeast. Fewer rounds were bracketing them as the allies had apparently deemed the destroyers the more immediate target. This would prove costly as the torpedo boats were able to approach to within 1/2 a mile before loosing the first of their torpedoes. Moments later, a belated shell struck so close that one of the torpedo boats was capsized.

The other slightly adjusted her trajectory and loosed her own second bolt at the invaders less than 30 seconds later. Wisely, she turned back from whence she came, the crew no doubt praying for all they were worth.

In less than a minute, the wake of the three torpedoes could be discerned at 500 yards, then 400, then 300. By ill-luck, one of the Spanish cruisers caught the first two torpedoes, one fore and one aft. Massive explosions rocked the vessel. The fact that the hits were suffered on the opposite side from what Canevaro could see did not lessen his assurance the vessel was doomed.

The third and final torpedo reached the spiraling ships 30 seconds later. This time Canevaro got a good view of the wake as it reached the hull of the Milan at a sharp angle. The Admiral only had a moment to wonder how that would affect the penetrating power before a sharp clang erupted....but no ensuing explosion.

A dud! Canevaro nearly exclaimed in disbelief. Fate is with the Milan today!

At least it was until the prow of the Seine collided with the Milan a few second later from a similar tight angle. In hindsight, Canevaro deemed it fortunate that only one collision had occurred in the frantic maneuvers of the past few minutes. He had no idea the damaged to the Milan and Seine but was grateful that the rams had been removed from the prows of most modern steamships in the past decade. Once standard for the ironclads of the past, the larger steel ships seldom carried them. With bigger guns, getting close enough to ram another ship was always unlikely. Guns which carried five miles tended to preclude that.

At least, for the moment, the danger appeared to have passed. Canevaro ordered his signal man to form back into a line. He paused briefly, trying to determine his path. One of his ships had been lost. Both the Seine and Loire had been torpedoed with uncertain damage but likely significant. The Milan had taken repeated hits yesterday and had just suffered a collision.

Perhaps it was time to cut his losses and skip the assault on the Brooklyn Naval Yard. The Italian was about to command the signalman to command a general retreat when the Cuniberti was shaken by a collision.

"What the hell?!" he muttered.

The Admiral knew that was not a shell exploding....or a torpedo. But there were no other vessels within three hundred yards. What had they hit?

Moments later, the lookouts reported, "Submersible! We collided with a submersible!"

Eyes gaping open, Canevaro attempted to calculate the odds of a collision even in these relatively close confines. They were long indeed.

"Shit," he muttered.

The Americans had also been experimenting with submersibles for years as well. They got that Norwegian....what was his name.....Nordgren or something?

Apparently the Americans were pairing these new submersibles with.........

"Order the damn withdrawal!" Canevaro shouted. By happenstance, the Cuniberti was oriented back towards the narrow straight between Staten Island and Brooklyn. "Signal the fleet!"

The next few minutes bore out his fears. From the west, with no vessels in sight, came the wake of a torpedo, this time bearing straight into the Milan's starboard. This torpedo would NOT be a dud and the violence of the blast immediately told the Admiral that the Milan was finished. Unlike more modern ships, the Milan did not have thick hull shielding or efficient anti-flooding bulkheads. One glance assured the Admiral that the Milan would be fortunate to make it out of Upper Bay, much less any further.

Instead, he ordered the fleet onward, leaving his countrymen to their fate.

To the east, his lookouts reported more torpedo wakes from the direction of Brooklyn. Again, no vessel was visible. The Loire would open up her batteries, perhaps hoping to strike the submersibles underwater. Maybe it just made the Captain feel better to be firing back.

The Loire would be rocked once again. But only once. Maybe the 2nd torpedo missed or was a dud.

All Canevaro could do was hope that the Cuniberti avoided further damage. With a heavy heart, the Admiral received a desperate call of another wake spotted from the west, this time heading straight for the Italian flag ship. Canevaro rushed to the windows and actually managed to spy the offensive item in question at 500 yards. Indeed, it seemed to have been expertly aimed to catch the Italian ship on the run.

400 yards.



200........and the torpedo exploded in a geyser of water.

Sandbar! The Admiral actually joined the Cuniberti's crew in whooping in delight.

Moments later, the Admiral remembered the land-based torpedoes and wondered if the threat had not yet ended. However, the surviving six allied ships would not detect any further attacks as they fled the Upper Bay to safety. Decades later, the truth would come out that the American installation had run low on torpedoes and more allied ships might have been sunk as they fled had a bureaucratic snafu not occurred.
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Dewey may have lost, but his second line of defense kept the Latin Alliance from wreaking havoc on the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and possibly New York City itself. Good chapters by the way.
Chapter 317
November 7th, 1905 - noon

10 miles east of New York Harbor

Admiral Canevaro could barely keep his hands from shaking in a disgraceful lack of self-control

But the aging Italian officer could not conceal his dismay at the disaster.

Of the sixteen vessels with which he'd sailed from Cadiz, only eight remained and four of those were wounded....most quite badly.

Italian Battlecruiser Cuniberto - had taken four modest shellfire hits in previous days battle. One of the six gun turrets was out of action but otherwise the vessel was functional.

French Battlecruiser Loire - had taken several moderate artillery hits the previous day and two torpedo hits that morning. Many compartments flooded. Fortunately, the engines remained fully functional.

French Battlecruiser Seine - had taken several moderate artillery hits the previous day and one torpedo that morning. Listing badly to port and a gun turret non-functional. Extensive fire damage. Fortunately, the fire did not reach the armories. Uncertain if the ship would be able to elevate or lower guns effectively enough to fight.

Spanish Battlecruiser Esmerelda - 12 year old Spanish ship had been the only capital ship to avoid damage.

Spanish Battlecruiser Infante - 10 year old Spanish ship had been badly damaged the previous day and had not partaken in the "Battle of Upper Bay". Crew currently working to return ships engines to functionality.

French Frigate Desperaux - 8 year old light escort was only lighter vessel to avoid damage over the past two days.

French Corvette Orleans - 10 year old light escort had suffered moderate shell damage the previous day.

Spanish Frigate Biscay - heavy damaged the previous day, clearly taking on water and the pumps were failing. Did not take part in morning battle in Upper Bay.

It had been an ugly 24 hours for the allied fleet. Yes, they had bled the Americans badly as well (three capital ships sunk, two others badly damaged, plus a destroyer, torpedo boat and submersible sunk in Upper Bay) but that didn't hide the fact that Canevaro had lost half his fleet and another quarter so badly damaged that they would be fortunate to reach a friendly port......a port likely to be several thousand miles away no matter the direction.

Canevaro let his junior officers handle the damage repair. At this point, he was not inclined to rush an escape. Doing so may cost even more vessels.

How did this happen? How did the Americans so perfectly time their trap?

Only then did the Admiral turn his gaze a few miles east and recall the sight of several large balloons flying above Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Of course, the Italian cursed his stupidity. Spotters in the balloons were telegraphing down ship movements. The Americans had been doing that for forty years since their Civil War! Even our damned idiot army is doing the same in along the Rhine. How did not not see this?!

The Americans timed their attacks perfectly. It was a remarkable achievement. He wondered what would have happened if the Americans had been given more than a few days notice. Someone had clearly been preparing for war.

Though the allied plan to hobble the American Atlantic squadron had been at least partially successful, the benefits may be slight given that the toll the Americans took on the allies in return. The plan had been to surprise a few unready....possibly even unmanned.....American capital ships in port with no warning, wipe them out, destroy the American shipyard....and then sail on to Norfolk, do the same there if possible, then on to Havana where the allies would hopefully wipe out the smaller American Caribbean squadron.

Isolate and surprise the American squadrons in detail.....wipe them out.

It sounded so simple in principle. But war never followed rules or plans.

"What is the status of the Biscay?" He demanded of his adjutant.

The young man sputtered, "Captain Arce fears that the engines bear no promise of repair. He requests that we take the Biscay in tow...."

"No," Canevaro snapped. "Order the Desperaux to evacuate the Biscay's crew and have the vessel scuttled. I will not slow our fleet to save an old Frigate."

"Admiral!" This was the Captain of the Cuniberto. "Smoke detected on the southern horizon."

Given that this was an immensely busy shipping lane, there had been hundreds of sighting of merchant ships. Out of practicality, the Italian had not ordered any merchant raiding. But the Captain was too skilled an officer (after all, Canevaro had trained him and handpicked the man for the assignment) to interrupt without a reason.

"Enemy ships?"

"Yes, sir. I believe they may be the six lighter vessels which declined to engage in yesterday's battle. However, spotters believe that there is at least one, possibly two, capital ships among them."

Canevaro sighed, "Any chance they may be those two Dakota-class ships which fled north yesterday?"

This was unlikely given those ships' most recent heading. They were damaged enough to make for the nearest port. The Admiral doubted very much they turn about in the night, sailed wide of New York southbound to meet their fellows and were now steaming north again.

"No, sir. The profile does not seem to match. These vessels are......bigger."

"Of course they are, Captain. Of course, they are."