Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Greenhorn, Feb 22, 2019.
I'm glad you find it interesting. I have some big things planned revolving around the 1864 election.
It's starting to look like the Union is going to spend an inordinate amount of effort pushing for Baltimore and Washington and spend a lot of effort beating their heads against the wall.
Even if they take back Maryland eventually, they'll have spent so much time, effort, and blood that the Confederacy may be able to successfully negotiate separation.
By the spring of 1863 the pinch of the Union blockade began to be felt on the Confederacy. With the fall of Port Royal, South Carolina the Union had gained an important refueling base to extend the blockade still further south to Savannah and Jacksonville, and after some botched attempts the capture of the North Carolina barrier islands in the summer of 1862 would close off the sounds there to Confederate raiders and blockade runners. So to would the pattern be repeated on the Gulf Coast, the North completing their blockade of all major Southern ports by May, 1863.
That was, except for three major targets. In Texas Galveston still stood strong against repeated Union assaults, keeping Southern access to Latin America and the Caribbean alive, however tenuous. Wilmington in North Carolina, with it's storm battered coast, sand bars, and difficult terrain proved to be particularly troublesome for Union commanders, and a safe haven for blockade runners. The port would become increasingly important for the South as the rest of their ports closed, one by one, strangling their access to foreign equipment and supplies that was needed to equip their armies. The last port was Baltimore, a major ship building city that still sat well behind Confederate lines, defended by sea from the captured Forts McHenry and Carroll, as well as shore batteries hastily constructed by the Confederates. It was an important harbor for Southern blockade runners, and it's iron foundries made it an important construction site for the Southern iron clads that were now desperately rushed out to break the Yankee stranglehold.
In April of that year two Confederate iron clads, the CSS Maryland and CSS Baltimore City would set out to confront the Union blockade around Norfolk. Norfolk was a strategically vital city with large naval yards that had supplied much of the nascent Confederate Atlantic forces. Under McClellan's cautious watch it would finally be captured in August of 1862, sealing the closure of the Chesapeake Bay. The Southerners now moved out to end it, but after a spirited battle were forced back, the Baltimore City being heavily damaged in the fighting while only sinking one Union ship and damaging another. After a long journey up the Bay it would be forced to land at Annapolis, not being able to make it all the way to Baltimore.
Baltimore was by now the largest industrial center in the Confederacy, it's factories churning out desperately needed shoes, uniforms, swords, ammunition, rifles, ships, rails, and other goods. By mid 1863 the city's factories would churn out enough rifles to "equip our fine army twice over," as Johnston would put it. Elsewhere in Maryland wartime production also rose, iron ore operations in Prince George's County going to fuel the furnaces of Elkton, Baltimore, Towson, and others.
But not all was well in the sunny South. The fall of Nashville in October of 1862 would open up the rest of Tennessee to northern invasion. Unable to import food many parts of Dixie now fell into borderline famine conditions, especially in places like Alabama where the principal focus of agricultural production would be on cotton and other cash crops, not edible goods. This was no different in Maryland, who now suffered from having lost it's principal agricultural regions in the Hagerstown and Frederick Valleys and from the threat to fishing operations in the Bay due to Federal troops on the Eastern Shore. There was still much agricultural land in secessionist hands, but it was focused on tobacco production, and provided limited relief. Rationing became common place in Baltimore by the winter of 1862, and in January of 1863 food would have to be shipped in from Virginia to keep the population from starving. To help combat this problem Groome and his government would take drastic measures, including the requisitioning of farm stocks to feed the army and mandating that farmers switch from tobacco to corn or wheat production, much to the chagrin of his planter supporters. It might cost him in Annapolis, but Groome's focus was on "preserving Maryland territorial integrity, and if that means a tighter belt, then an extra loop we shall we go."
In the North trouble was brewing. Lincoln had become anxious over the failures of McClellan and took increasing control over the military conduct of the war. His bumbling would see U.S. Grant invade Kentucky before even clearing Missouri of Jackson and his supporters, angering the legislature in Frankfort enough for them to pass a narrow Ordinance of Secession. Kentucky secession would be mostly symbolic in the end - most of the pro-Southern population had already gone to Tennessee, and the important transportation hubs were all in easy range of the US. By the end of June most of the state would be brought under Federal occupation, before the Confederates could respond quickly enough to save it. But his real problems would come from the east. He would fire McClellan for his incompetency at destroying Johnston's army, but even as he put Hooker in his place he only doubled down on the sort of micromanagement that had cost McClellan victory at Towson. In May Lincoln would demand Hooker try to take Towson again, this time with more men. The general had no chance to object, and went ahead with the President's orders, fearful of what lay instore should he not:
"Delaying any action further would only serve to see my firing from the Army, to say nothing about being dragged before that committee. I am staunch in my stance behind Lincoln and the war, but it appears that no one's loyalty is trusted."
Hooker would set out in May, his first action being the advance from Unionville towards Baltimore County. He hopped that doing so would threaten the Confederates in Westminster with encirclement and that the rebels would abandon the city without a fight, which they did on the 18th. The Confederates would fight only a brisk skirmish at "Secessionville", abandoning both it and Westminster as they fell back towards Alpha Ridge near Reisterstown. The victory here would clear up his right flank as the bulk of his army now moved down towards Towson, brushing past Johnston's riverside defenses as they crossed U.S. Ford towards the town. Much like before rebel resistance stiffened, but unlike before, when Johnston's attack came, Hooker stayed put, having his own men dig in opposite the Confederates around the Hunt Valley. Hooker had initially disagreed with Lincoln's demand he do so, but the praise he was showered with by the Northern press for sticking it out north of Towson (the casualties of course being covered up by the administration) emboldened him. Soon he would work to flank Johnston's positions at such battles as Second Gunpowder River, Cockeysville, First and Second Lutherville-Timonium, Perry Hall, and others. At White Marsh (June 26) the Federals would score an important victory, securing their bridgehead south of the Gunpowder River and advancing to near Essex, on the Back River, putting the spires of Baltimore in their sights.
Hooker's victories here would be vital for Lincoln, and go on to greatly impress the Northern public, earning him the nickname "Yankee Napoleon". As for Johnston, his inaction against McClellan and Hooker, the recent turn of events, and his frequent squabbles with Beauregard and Davis would see Davis fire him. In his place went a new commander who Davis hoped would take the fight to the North. That man would be Robert E. Lee.
Finally! Here comes the Marble Man. It was cool to see Johnston last so long though. Also, I'm a bit surprised at how easily the Union secured Kentucky. Especially since they officially seceded and joined the CSA. I'd have thought that most of the war out west would be in Kentucky rather than Tennessee. Anyways, looking forward to seeing how this all pans out. Oh, and I assume New Orleans has already fallen?
Yes New Orleans has been taken in July 1862.
Great TL so far!
While my knowledge of ACW is limited, from my perspective it looks very plausible. PoD (as I understand it, MD Governor Election that was very controversial and close IOTL goes the other way and Groome is elected instead of Hicks) is minor enough and believable and its consequences are explored methodically and fairly. Unlike most CSA TLs I have seen on this site this TL is not ASBish in any way: yes CSA does considerably better than IOTL but this is entirely justified by PoD (if anything Confederacy could have done a bit better and it would still be plausible). Please keep up your outstanding work on this TL, I will eagerly wait for updates.
While we all hold our breaths for what Robert E. Lee would be able to do on the eastern front, I have a couple of questions and speculations:
1. Since according to post #58 in October 1862 Unionists already act against civilians in Buckeystown and fight Gilmor’s partisans in southern Frederick in the Autumn of 1862, one can assume that Union was able to recapture most of Frederick County almost immediately after Jackson’s Hagerstown campaign (second half of August 1862). Is this a correct assumption?
While it is certainly possible, Jackson was able to secure passes over Blue Ridge and majority of McClellan’s army was probably diverted to trying to break CSA defense along Gunpowder (which happened in September 1862). Obviously, majority of Confederate forces was likewise occupied near Towson defending mountain passes requires a lot less troops than seizing them.
Moreover wouldn’t taking Frederick back in such a swift manner secure McClellan’s position a bit despite the failure at Towson?
Originally I thought that there is a typo in post #58 and the dates concerning partisans in southern Frederick are a year earlier than described (i. e. Gilmor’s actions in Autumn-Winter 1861, Buckeystown in October 1861 and Adamstown in January 1862).
However post #64 seems to contradict such an interpretation and reinforces the assumption about swift Union recapture of Frederick Valley in September-October 1862: Baltimore had food shortages in winter 1862-1863 (and Federal control of Frederick county is listed as one of major reasons for that) and Unionville, MD was captured by McClellan in November 1862 (while it can be captured from Thurmont or Uniontown in North Frederick which may well be under Federal control, capturing it from Frederick itself looks more natural).
So did the Federals indeed managed to recapture Frederick in September-October 1862?
2. It seems that US operation against CSA Coast are delayed by approximately 3 month comparing to OTL (New Orleans captured in July instead of April, Norfolk in August instead of May).
I am curious though was the Peninsula Campaign similarly delayed (thus starting in June and finishing in October) or was it completely butterflied away. While the fact that Union was able to capture Norfolk probably indicates that the Peninsula Campaign did happen (IOTL Norfolk was captured as part of the campaign), ITTL seizure of Norfolk might well be a separate action (after all the troops for Peninsular Campaign of OTL sailed from Alexandra and ITTL Alexandra and DC is controlled by Confederacy since June 1861).
Please excuse my question if it is a spoiler.
3. While changes in the Eastern Front compared to OTL are of course extremely important, changes in the Western Front seem to be dramatic as well. The facts that Missouri seceded, that Jackson’s militia was able to capture St Louis Arsenal and that Kentucky remained neutral for the whole winter and its neutrality was broken by Union, not Confederacy are all major.
It seems that the successes by Union in the West while happening along the similar lines to OTL are delayed by at least 8 month: while Confederate forces were pushed from Missouri into Arkansas, ITTL it happened by late 1862, unlike IOTL where it happened in late 1861 (at least in the Winter of 1861-1862 CSA still holds both Jefferson City and Kansas City; in March a bloody battle of Hermann Farm happens, which is probably located in Hermann, MO, on the right bank of Missouri River). Nashville is taken ITTL in October 1862 comparing to February 1862 of OTL.
If the delay in Union actions compared to OTL remains unchanged, Vicksburg would fall in first half of 1864 in time for Elections but just barely. Of course changes on the Western Front can be much bigger than simple delay compared to OTL.
One of the first major divergences can be immediately after the last update we have on the West (i. e. Nashville). IOTL Confederates conducted a major offensive in August-October 1862, capturing Frankfort, KY and coming pretty close to capturing Louisville. While extended Kentucky neutrality might mean that CSA forces in Tennessee ITTL began to concentrate later than IOTL, we can probably expect that CSA counteroffensive on the West happens in the end of 1862 or the beginning of 1863. If the counteroffensive happens along the same lines as IOTL Confederates may well enjoy greater success in Kentucky given changes ITTL. Or maybe it can be further west ITTL with recapture or encirclement of Nashville or even further West coordinating efforts with Missouri bushwhackers.
Sorry for being nitpicky and if my conjectures are premature or naïve. I do not have an extensive ACW knowledge, but your writing urged me to dive into the topic. Thanks again for this amazing TL!
I'm happy you like my TL! I always appreciate comments and feedback, good or bad. I'm especially glad my timeline inspired you to read more into the ACW!
1. One thing that I try to show is that the Confederates are busy shifting their forces around in Maryland, especially in the western part. Johnston didn't agree that offensive action was needed, and it's very likely that, after Jackson had secured the Blue Ridge passes and Frederick and done his due damage to the B&O hubs at Frederick (which was the main reason for the attack) that he ordered Jackson back east to reinforce the approach to Baltimore, which was always considered the most important target in Maryland. A weakened Confederate force in the Blue Ridge would be decent pickings for Banks, though his taking two to three months does show the tenacity of rebel defenses in the area. To me the victory here would probably reflect better on Banks than McClellan because McClellan is A) in trickier political water with Lincoln and the administration, B) allowed Frederick and the Blue Ridge to fall in the first place, and C) was primarily concerned with taking Baltimore, which he bloodily failed twice to do.
But as to your last question, yes Frederick was in Union hands in October, 1862.
2. The Peninsula campaign never happens - McClellan is too busy around Baltimore to launch it. The capture of Norfolk was a separate operation to help Union blockading efforts and deny easy access to the Atlantic by Confederate blockade runners and other ships (and, more optimistically, it could provide a staging area for an attack on Baltimore, Washington, and/or Annapolis).
3. I haven't really focused a whole lot on the Western Theater, but there will be changes to the Kentucky offensive. So far the biggest changes out west, IMO, are that the Confederate position in Arkansas is a lot better, and they still control nearly all of the Mississippi River in that state and Tennessee, which will have big impacts on the Union ability to capture the river by 1864.
The Confederates' first move that summer wouldn't come around Baltimore, which continued to be besieged by the Federal army, but out west, from Jackson's men. Baltimore's industry was reliant upon coal from western Maryland imported via the railroads, but now the Union controlled the major fields around Frostburg. To help alleviate the problems the Southerners would haul in coal from Virginia, but as time wore on this became increasingly uneconomical. So, in July, Jackson would be sent to raid the stores at Westernport and, if possible, push up the Georges Creek Valley and secure the mines for the Confederacy.
Jackson would set out from Poolesville on the 17th, marching across White's Ferry to follow the B&O on it's path south of the Potomac River. The first major obstacle was the US garrison at Harpers Ferry, the one at Point of Rocks being driven off by Mosby's Rangers earlier that week. Jackson's men now surrounded the town, taking up positions along the ridges that towered above it and demanded the surrender of the city. When none was forthcoming he brought up artillery and shelled it, forcing the two New York regiments on Maryland Heights off the mountain while doing so. After just twenty four hours the Federals would surrender some 18, 000 men, most of them being paroled as Jackson hurriedly continued the march west. Martinsburg fell next, the Union commander there retreating towards Hagerstown rather than duke it out against Jackson. By July 21 the Confederates had crossed the Potomac around Hancock and advanced upon Cumberland, and the last Union garrison before the coal fields.
News of the events would be slow in coming to Hooker; Mosby and Gilmor had cut the telegraph wires. It wouldn't be until the 20th that the reports of the surrender of Harpers Ferry would reach the general, but these weren't taken seriously, Union officials still holding firm to the reports that Jackson was still in position around Reisterstown holding the Confederates' left flank. So no reinforcements came in these first few, critical days and, as such, Cumberland was left with it's 2, 300 defenders against the onslaught of Jackson's Corps.
The Union troops defending Cumberland consisted mostly of Ohio and Pennsylvania militia, and were hopelessly outclassed by the Southerners. They had taken up positions on the ridge east of town, but they occupied the geographical height of it, not the military, and their restricted view allowed Jackson to assemble his forces undetected and undisturbed. The Confederates would launch their attack on the 22nd, hammering the center of the Federal line and breaking through in a matter of hours.
Frantic messages from Cumberland were now being delivered to Hooker about Jackson's threat, but still the general had his doubts. At first he would only send Banks and some 7, 000 men from their camp around Westminster to lazily meander to the town and see what the commotion was about, and it wouldn't be until the testimonies of several prisoners taken in an attack near Reisterstown were collected that proved that Jackson had left the works around Baltimore. But rather than pursue his foe Hooker had a different idea - surely Jackson's departure meant that the rebel lines around Baltimore were considerably weakened, and that an attack now against the left flank could be the decisive blow to end Lee's army. He gathered his men, and drew up a hasty plan to attack the Confederates near the road junction of Pikesville.
The Federal advance would start on August 7, and included the First and parts of the Second Corps. The advance would start off well, but hasty planning and poor coordination delayed it the more the Union forces pressed on. With this delay Lee would be able to bring in Ewell's Corps to reinforce this section of the line and meet them. The battle would start on the 10th with the morning time shelling of the Union lines, but really it would be over before it started. Four days earlier Jackson had captured Westernport and was ordered back to Baltimore by Lee to engage Hooker's army. Hooker was fighting against time without even knowing it, sending in the First Corps wide to the right in hopes of outflanking the rebels and getting around their Baltimore defenses. This they would succeed in doing, and Hooker now threw in the rest of his force. Standing in the way of the First Corps' assault was Steuart's Brigade. Captain Johnathon Greene of the 3rd Maryland would describe the carnage:
"We had been forced out of earthworks by their charge earlier in the day, but a delay in their command had allowed us time to reorganize ourselves in the woodlot behind it. Now we stacked logs and rocks in a makeshift line awaiting the renewed Federal attack, and when it came it came like hell. Our men poured their fire into the enemy, watching with great satisfaction as they began to fall. Their advance slowed, but didn't stop. The cry now rose, 'buckshot, fire at will!' but the enemy was still too far away for the muskets. When they came close enough they had a murderous effect on them."
The Union attack was broken up, the men retreating back outside of the woods. Unlike the previous commander, Johnston, Lee now went in for the kill, ordering a massive counterattack to cripple Hooker once and for all:
"The rebs threw themselves upon us like animals, their men only stopping to fire the muskets and some not even doing that. This had the effect of a creating a nearly continuous stream of fire as their men yelled and charged our line. With every ounce of strength I kept the men from panicking, but who could blame them if they had? As soon as we cut down one man another eagerly took his place, hooting and hollering like never before."
"The advance stalled after a few minutes as the Yanks picked up their slack. Naturally the reinforcements were poured in and I heard one fellow cry from next to me, 'get out of the way Maryland and let Virginia in!' That must have been one of Pickett's boys, but no sooner had they come in when a Yankee volley cut them down to size. Their men limped back to our line, and I couldn't help but shout out 'get out of the way Maryland and let Virginia out!' in response."
"There was no time for hesitation. The rebels kept throwing themselves upon us. Finally I had to order a retreat, before they had broken our line and shattered the whole of the army's flank."
The counterattack went on for hours, grinding Hooker back as both sides poured more and more men into the fighting. But that night the tide of the battle would finally turn - the first of Jackson's hard marching corps would arrive from Whites Ferry and fill in the gaps in Ewell's section of the line. Now Lee planned for the next days' fighting. Men from AP Hill's Corps from further east were brought in and positioned for a massive flanking attack against the Federals. Lee's original hope had been to send Jackson on a flanking maneuver around Hooker, cutting him off and trapping him, but his men were exhausted from their marching, and so Lee settled on a less ambitious plan of sending Heth's Division and Trimble's Brigade to hit the flank of the Second Corps and advance down their line, rolling it up and forcing the Union into full retreat. It would go off at dawn, the Federals never knowing what had hit them. Startled the Northerners fell back, their line melting away. By now Hooker's cavalry had reported that most of Jackson's men were back from Westernport and were joining Lee's line. Stunned the general would order a full withdrawal back towards Reisterstown, the Confederates harassing them along the way.
The victory at Pikesville would be heralded as a glorious triumph for the Confederacy. In it they had succeeded to nearly vanquish an entire Federal army, sending the villain Hooker tail between legs back north of Baltimore. But in reality it came at a heavy cost. Jackson's hasty recall would leave his gains in the west, once again, easily vulnerable to counterattack, which the Union now did. It had also cost Lee a good many men, some 7, 500 in all, including much of the famed Maryland brigades. More importantly it forced him to extend his lines around Baltimore several more miles to close the gap that had almost been exploited by Hooker's men. At this rate the Confederacy would bleed itself white before the Union had reached Richmond, or even Baltimore.
The defeat at Pikesville wouldn't stop Hooker. Even as little as a week after the battle he had been pressured by Lincoln to redeem himself, and this the general gladly went along with. As it was, the dominant thinking among Union brass was that Lee's victory was only because of the last minute arrival of reinforcements from other parts of the line and that, surely, this had left the eastern end of the line poorly defended and vulnerable to attack. Hooker agreed, and plans for an offensive against the muddy crossroads of Stemmer's Run, a little hamlet along the railroad north of Essex. AP Hill's Corps had been the one defending the line here, but not Federal cavalry was reporting that just two understrength brigades were holding the section of the line from the vicinity of the Back River all the way to near the Belaire road. It was a golden opportunity, one not even Hooker could easily give up. Quickly he rushed to re-deploy his units from around Pikesville, hauling them around Baltimore to positions near Stemmer's Run.
At a little after dawn on the morning of August 22nd Confederate skirmishers would spot the advance of Union troops along the railroad towards Stemmer's Run. Just as Hooker had hoped Merryman's and Robertson's Brigades were the only units in the area, and Merryman would send out the 12th and 16th Maryland to gather the target and strength of the enemy (for the cavalry was still sitting around Pikesville) and, if possible, engage him. This they did a little ways northeast of town, Private John Best noting in his diary:
"We got orders to move out to meet the enemy at around eight o'clock. We had just gotten breakfast and weren't terribly fond of moving out, but we shoveled through our grub and took up a line along an old railroad bed a few hundred yards up."
As the Marylanders and Delawareans would find out it wasn't a single brigade on a raiding mission as reported, but rather a full Union corps, Reynolds', complete with cavalry and artillery escort. To call the battle that ensued in the railroad bed a battle would be putting it mildly, John Reynolds himself later stating:
"It wasn't war, but murder."
The Confederate skirmishers waited until the Union troops advanced to within a few yards of their positions. The firing quickly picked up along the line, the colonel of the 16th being shot down within mere minutes. Within ten minutes it became obvious to Confederate field commanders that the enemy possessed an "overwhelming supremacy in manpower" and panic began to set in amongst the men. The last few yards in front of the bed was open ground, allowing the Marylanders, many of whom carried old smoothbore muskets, to exact a deadly toll on the Northerners, but it was useless. Twenty minutes into the action General Wadsworth would send some men on a flanking mission to get around the front of the Confederate works, a New Jersey regiment from Paul's Brigade finally doing so after marching through a small bog and opening the ranks of the rebels to a deadly enfilading fire. The Marylanders were now taking fire from the front and left, the New Jersians shooting down the ranks of the men "with remarkable ease." Merryman panicked, calling a retreat that only left the Delawareans from Robertson's command in an exposed position.
The Marylanders retreated in "utter chaos", and once leaving the relative protection of the railroad bed were left totally open to the fire pouring in from the Pennsylvanians at their front. Dozens fell trying to cross the field back to friendly lines, but dozens more remained trapped in the bed, the 1st Delaware being virtually surrounded by Paul's men. Despite this the Delawareans held firm, not giving up the fight. One New Jersey officer would note:
"Those damned fools! Couldn't they see the hopelessness that Merryman had left them in? Apparently not, for when our men charged at them their spirit only seemed to rise, their men giving a curdling yell as their color bearer leaped up, waving that infernal cross around ceaselessly. He was cut down in a matter of seconds, but not before his compatriots had managed to put up a remarkable defense."
The Northerners fell upon the Delawareans, fighting the rebels hand to hand in a bloody struggle. With the bed being filled with Union troops the New Jersians on the flank were forced to halt their firing and enter the work themselves, allowing a handful of lucky Confederates to escape and link up with the others a little ways down the road. But for the vast majority there would be no such luck. Within minutes the Northerners would wound or kill dozens of the remaining rebels, including all of the officers. When the bloody affair was over just twenty men were left of the 1st, out of a pre-battle roster of some 330.
Reynolds' initial attack was devastating for the Confederacy, but the rebels regrouped, wiring Lee of the urgency of the situation. Merryman now took charge, taking up an improvised defensive position along some wooded hills, his right flank anchored by a swamp, his left by a small creek. The men waited for the attack they knew would surely come, but surprisingly for them it would be hours before it came, Reynolds waiting for reinforcements to arrive after the fighting in the railroad bed convinced him that the rebels were larger in number than originally thought. This was time desperately needed for the South as Lee now rushed in AP Hill's and Jackson's men to meet Hooker's troops.
Merryman's line came under fire late in the morning, a little before ten o'clock. Paul's men would once again be sent in a flanking maneuver, this time, however, getting lost in the swamp while doing so. Unbeknownst to the rest of Wadsworth's men they advanced without their flanking support, allowing the Confederates to concentrate all of their attention on the advancing Union columns. In the woods the Confederates would have decent concealment, lessening their casualties as the numerically superior Northerners pressed on them. But even this wouldn't be enough to stave off the carnage for long - Paul's Brigade would appear out of the swamp and on the Union left flank after eleven thirty, reinvigorating the Union attack just in the nick of time. The extra brigade proved too much for Merryman, who was now forced to retreat once again, keeping a small detachment of men to cover the retreat of the main body of troops. The Federals now pounced on this small body, pouring a "devastating" fire into them. Brigadier General Gabriel Paul himself writing:
"We pushed mercilessly on them, shooting with all deliberate speed. With just yards left the men entered into a full on charge, bursting into the rebel lines and destroying their puny command. It was a repeat of the scene at the railroad bed earlier that morning. No rebel lay standing after our attack."
None left standing, and so far three regiments totally annihilated. The carnage was overwhelming, and Merryman's troops were now being hotly pursued by the Northerners, having no time to mount an effective fighting retreat. The end was in sight, a Union breakthrough seemed inevitable. But the further the Confederates retreated the closer they drew to their logistical hubs near Baltimore, and the assembly area of their precious reinforcements. A reaction force of Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia men was now assembled, the first officer found on scene, Jackson, put in command and rushed out to meet the Yankee onslaught. And not a minute to spare! Merryman's desperate redoubt south of Stemmer's Run was being bloodily attacked by two Union divisions, another seen assembling in the woods just beyond.
Jackson's arrival would go a long ways to rally the rebels. Over confident Northerners now charged the Confederate lines, advancing just a few yards before being cut down by Jackson's men. Another assault, this one more organized and with more of the II Corps thrown in, was launched, but the results would be similar, a whole Northern brigade being held up by the fire of a lone cannon (the rest of the battery still unloading). Reynolds would report Jackson's arrival to Hooker, who now wired Lincoln about the situation. What to do? Lincoln was clear - launch a frontal attack with all men available and shatter the Confederate lines, or be sacked like McClellan. Hooker did as told, but doing so took time, and it wouldn't be until nighttime that any respectable number of men could be assembled to undertake it. By then most of Jackson's and Hill's men would arrive, Lee now dispatching Jackson on a special mission to breakup the stunned Northerners before their attack could come in.
He would assault the Union right flank, advancing through a thinly held section of the line in a wood patch between Robinson's and Doubleday's Divisions. By then it was dark, and the attack wouldn't go in until the next day, but when it did it went in with the ferocity of a hurricane. Doubleday's men were caught completely off guard, Jackson shattering through his line and breaking through in less than an hour. As the Confederates advanced the scene was dramatically reversed from the day before:
"The country here is punctuated by many small hills and depressions. The Virginians would corral a not insignificant number of Yankees into one of these such depressions, surrounding them and firing into them at will. After a couple of minutes the whole of the mass would be a casualty of some form or another. The spirits of the men soared and, a little while later, the same scene would be repeated, until we had the effect of completely annihilating the Union commands that occupied this section of the line."
It was an utter rout, the Union right collapsing and retreating by way of Stemmer's Run all the way back to their defensive works. The suddenness of the Confederate attack would stun the Union, paralyzing Hooker from taking the necessary action to stabilize his lines further up and secure at least some of the ground gained earlier last day. The Northerners went into a full retreat, not stopping until they had reached the safety of their lines near White Marsh.
Lee's victory at Stemmer's Run would cement his name in the mythology of the South for eternity. His victories had absolutely devastated the Army of the Chesapeake, and regained some of the ground lost by Johnston earlier that year. He had inflicted terrible casualties on the Union, some 13, 500 in all, to the loss of 12, 000 of his own, making the fighting at Stemmer's Run the bloodiest of the war so far. In the South victory now seemed inevitable as Lee was poised to invade the North and as news of a victory out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee put Nashville and Kentucky in Confederate sights. In the North it would only serve to deepen the bitterness of the public towards Lincoln, and Lincoln's and the Radicals' paranoia of a Copperhead conspiracy to overthrow the government. The garrison around Philadelphia would be expanded to 250, 000 men, Lincoln now assuming, in that September, even more control of the Army of the Chesapeake's tactical movements.
Even though this is about Maryland, do we get to find out what exactly went down at Murfreesboro?
I could have an update about the war in the west, but in brief Beauregard took up a defensive position around the town but, ITTL because of more troops from Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee the Confederates didn't have to split off their forces to defend any other city, allowing Beauregard to out maneuver the Union forces and defeat them.
I got to say I'm really enjoying this timeline so far, its quite detailed and it certainly has a unique twist for an American Civil War Timeline in my humble opinion, although I may be a bit biased since I am a Marylander!
I'm glad you like it!
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