The Dead Skunk

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Lycaon pictus, May 7, 2011.

  1. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    Aracnid, there is no loophole no matter how much you insist otherwise.

    There were borders between the US and Canada whose legal status were still disputed by one or both parties, Maine comes to mind, but under the treaty the pre-war status quo was restored in every case where one party had gained land from the other, even when the other party had a legal claim to the territory held.

    The only things this would do is restart the war which the British wanted to be done with and call into serious question British diplomatic integrity at a time when negotiations on all of Europe and more are coming up. Neither serves the British interest in the slightest.
  2. Swan Station Under a hatch

    You appear to be correct on this.

    But, let's see what Lycaon actually has planned here. News of the treaty being signed hasn't yet reached the combatants. Congress hasn't ratified the treaty yet, either.

    And, in the meantime we've already got some major changes:
    - Andrew Jackson is dead, and the US has lost the moot Battle of New Orleans.
    - There is a rising anti-US attitude among the people of New Orleans
    - The British were able to advance as far as Natchez

    So... the British pull out per the treaty as soon as they hear about it. But, after that... what's going to happen?

    If the British pull out of NO, the NOCPS is going to be rather bitter with both Anglo nations. Too bad Napolean is all but defeated already...
  3. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    From the hillside overlooking the artillery, Coffee watched as the redcoats pulled back from their attack.

    If they’d pressed on, he’d planned to move his reserves to the right to fire down on them from more or less where he was standing. If they’d swung entirely around the hill, he’d intended to order his reserves to go left and try to block them.

    But instead, they were going straight up the hill, moving through that one little hollow where he couldn’t quite see them. The thing about having a blind spot was that if you knew exactly where it was and could plan accordingly, it wasn’t really a blind spot any more. Coffee and a few of his aides started walking, determined to get close enough to know when to give the signal.

    The hill was still heavily forested — not too many of its trees had gone into the building of the barricade. That gave the attacking British many chances to take cover, but it also broke up their neat formations and made it that much harder to coordinate a volley.

    In two places, at the highest points of the hill, the wall was particularly high, and crowned with extra pine branches. They seemed to be weak points in the defensive line — only a handful of Americans, the tips of their muskets sticking out from between piles of brush, were positioned there.

    No one ordered the British to converge on these two places. They simply did, as naturally as water flowing downhill. Pakenham was one of the first.

    Which made it something of a miracle that he survived what happened next. At the sound of a trumpet, on Coffee’s command, the brush was pushed or pulled aside to reveal over two hundred of Williams’ regulars at each “weak point.”

    “FIRE!” shouted Williams, standing equidistant between the two points and somehow making his voice carry over the whole battlefield.

    A perfect volley sounded like a single mighty explosion, rather than hundreds of individual muskets were going off. This one was such a volley, but since it was happening in two places about two thousand feet apart, it sounded like either one explosion or two, depending on where you stood.

    Raw recruits were often stunned or terrified by the sound of a volley, especially one that they weren’t expecting. The men Pakenham led were barely slowed down. In fact, it made the soldiers closest to the barricade — most of whom had survived the volley — run faster. They knew by experience that if they could close with the Yankees in the next fifteen to twenty seconds, the enemy wouldn’t have time to reload and it would come down to bayonet against bayonet.

    The second volley came ten seconds later. It was a looser, sloppier volley, more like a three-second roll of thunder than a loud bang, but it killed and maimed more people than the first one had. (The men at the barricade were less than half of Williams’ regiment, but they were holding all the muskets and had loaded and primed them half an hour ago.)

    Even now, the British kept on coming. Soon the first redcoats were climbing the wall… where they encountered the next surprise.

    Last night, the Americans had carefully poured river water onto the wood of the barricade. Now it was covered with a glaze of ice. Under sunlight, even the weak sunlight of winter, the ice would have glistened and given itself away — but between the overcast sky, the piney-wood canopy overhead and all the snow and gunsmoke in the air, there was little danger of that. So they were using all four limbs to try to get some purchase on this slippery woodpile, while the Americans had at them with bayonets and swords and cutlasses and knives and those edged wooden war clubs they’d taken from the Creeks, the name of which escaped Coffee at the moment.

    “LADDERS!” someone shouted. They hadn’t thought they’d even need ladders to climb this paltry thing.

    At this point, the redcoats broke off their attack and retreated behind the trees, pausing only to collect their wounded. There was no sense throwing their lives away now when the means to make a more effective attack would be here in a matter of minutes. And the Americans couldn’t counterattack — the barricade would be just as treacherous under their feet.

    Coffee strode to the left end of his line, and there he waited. As soon as he heard them coming, he turned to Colonel Benton and simply nodded. Benton’s volunteers didn’t get started as quickly or smoothly as U.S. regulars, let alone British soldiers, but soon enough they were swinging around the left end of the barricade to attack the nearest ladder-bearers. The snow was getting heavier.

    That was it. Coffee had no more stratagems, no more surprises, and no more reserves — everyone on the American side who could fight was doing it right now. He hoped the enemy didn’t know that.
    * * *
    If Benton had made his attack half an hour earlier, the British would not only have driven him off, but would probably have followed him around the southeast end of the barricade. But now, they’d been running around uphill and downhill drawing in great lungfuls of cold, dry air that scraped their throats raw, and had taken several nasty shocks and many casualties.

    It showed in their fighting. Those who survived the first few moments of the volunteers’ attack took shelter behind trees and fired from there. Both sides struggled to reload with fingers half-numb from the cold.

    All this was on the left, from Coffee’s standpoint. In the center and on the right, the redcoats were faring no better. They had ladders, but not enough of them to bring their greater numbers to bear. And, again, they had lost more energy than the defenders over the course of the battle. This made all the difference in the almost hand-to-hand fighting on the barricade.

    A few redcoats made it over the wall, but they were quickly overwhelmed and either killed or taken prisoner. One of them — an officer who had just been shot through the chest at point-blank range — drew Coffee’s eye.

    As he looked closer, he saw that the officer’s scarf had fallen off, revealing scars on either side of his neck that almost matched. Coffee had only heard of one man with scars like that.

    This was Sir Edward Michael Pakenham. Like Jackson, he had been a fighter. Like Jackson, he had survived things that no man should be able to live through. And like Jackson, he had finally run out of miracles. Coffee doffed his hat in respect.

    And sure enough, the cry was going up among the British — “THE GENERAL’S DOWN! THE GENERAL’S FALLEN!”
    * * *
    Keane felt sick with guilt. It had been on his suggestion that Pakenham had tried to take the hill.

    Could they still win? Possibly… but not likely. God only knew how many men they’d lost today. When in doubt, he thought, do what you know you can do.

    “Call for a cease-fire,” he said. “We’ll collect our wounded — those who can move — and the bodies of Thornton and Pakenham, and retreat to Fort Adams.” There, he knew, he could hold off anything the dirty-shirts cared to send against him.
    * * *
    We’ve won. Coffee hardly dared to say it out loud. It seemed so fragile. Any moment, surely the British would turn around and attack again, or a fresh army would appear on the southern horizon…

    “What are the casualties?” he asked Williams.

    “On the British side, about two hundred fifty killed, over a thousand wounded. Maybe half that on our side, sir.”

    Coffee nodded.

    About that time, the militia commander returned.

    “The day is ours and fairly won, sir,” he said. “Shall we pursue?”

    “Don’t make me push you downstairs again, Benton.” What was happening to the south was a long way from a rout. The redcoats were retreating in good order, and even after their casualties they still outnumbered the Americans. Attack or pursuit would be foolhardy. “We shall tend to our wounded, bury our dead, and await further orders.”
    Last edited: May 30, 2011
  4. Arachnid Arachnid once more.

    Jan 17, 2006
    London, UK
    Okay so while the British have secured Louisiana they haven't got any further. While they do what they did after the Treaty of Paris in the North-west and simply not evacuate their forts claiming (rightly or wrongly) that they aren't covered by the Treaty of Ghent or what?

    Interestingly if they only hold Louisiana south of Fort Adams that means they will hold the most "French" part as Northern Louisiana (north of Fort Adams) in OTL was mostly settled by English speaking Southerners. That means Britain now has two mostly French speaking colonies.
  5. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    I think I'm going to have to pick up the pace a little. Otherwise, by the time I get to the really cool stuff in the 1850s, Rebecca Black will be the nominee against incumbent President Justin Bieber.:p

    Along with the fear that swept the land in the wake of the loss of New Orleans came anger. Inaccurate early reports led to the widespread misimpression that the city had fallen due to treachery on the part of its inhabitants. In fact, virtually all historians agree that such “treachery” as occurred was provoked by Jackson’s desperate act of attempting to torch the city in order to deny it to the British — an act he never would have considered if he had not already despaired of winning the battle. But even for those who knew the truth, it was easier to blame a cabal of semi-American, French-speaking traitors than a fallen patriot and war hero.
    The subject of what should be done with these “traitors,” should the fortunes of either war or peace deliver them into American hands, was a favorite one of the “War Hawks” of Congress, led by the South Carolinian representatives Calhoun, Cheves and Lowndes. Calhoun in particular waxed famously eloquent on the topic, vowing in one speech that upon retaking New Orleans, the United States would “hang enough traitors to fill the ninth circle of Hell.” For their part, the U.S. Army and militia officers who allowed themselves to be quoted invariably swore that, by whatever means, Jackson would be avenged.
    These sentiments were echoed in Republican newspapers throughout the land. From the safety of their offices, the scribblers called for the city to be “chastised,” “purged of corruption” or “cleansed with fire and the sword.” In mid-February, when word of the Treaty of Ghent reached American shores, the Worcester National Aegis gloated that “the mongrel miscreants must be trembling with fear at the thought of the justice that approaches them in the shadow of the Stars and Stripes.”
    With so many speaking freely out of ignorance, the one man whose words might have rectified the situation held his tongue. President Madison knew the truth about the fall of the city, and, having no intention of running for a third term, had nothing more to fear from public opinion. He had already written a bill of amnesty covering the Louisiana militia, the New Orleans Committee of Public Safety and all members of the city and state government who continued serving in their positions under the British. If this failed, his biographers are unanimous in the opinion that he intended to pardon any New Orleanian who happened to be convicted of treason.
    His closest advisors, however, encouraged him not to introduce the bill or reveal anything of his intentions until the British were gone from the city — or, better still, until the Americans had reclaimed it. “An act of mercy,” said Crawford, “will not be known for what it is unless it is offered from a position of strength.”
    Monroe, for his part reminded the president that Jackson had had many friends in the army, who would not look kindly on forgiveness for his killers. He cautioned that the army might have to retake the city by force, and that if they knew the “traitors” they were hunting had a pardon waiting for them, they might not take those “traitors” alive.
    And so, the people of New Orleans knew nothing of his good intentions. They knew only what they read in the American newspapers that the British sailors under Admiral Cochrane’s command were only too happy to supply them with. As they, too, received word of Ghent, they feared they might be left to fend for themselves.
    Terrible rumors swept the city during that Mardi Gras. They began with the rumor that Madison planned to hang the Committee of Public Safety and the leaders of the Louisiana militia, and soon became a good deal more far-fetched. Two weeks later, Lieutenant George Robert Gleig of the 85th wrote, “The whole city is convinced that the Yankees intend to butcher them to the last child as Joshua did the Canaanites.”
    The city government and militia, more sober-minded, had no intention of fleeing the city they had risked so much to defend. Nor did they wish to throw themselves on the mercy of a nation that had first betrayed them and now had the arrogance to accuse them of treason.
    And so, they found a third option…​

    Charles Cerniglia, The War of 1812
    Last edited: May 24, 2011
  6. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    As a professor of American History, the question my students most often ask me concerning the Federalists (actually, the question my students most often ask in almost all contexts) is “What were they thinking?”
    In the case of the Federalists of New England, what they were thinking in late 1814 and early 1815 was this:
    • Of the four Presidents of the United States, three had been from one state — Virginia. The one New Englander, John Adams, was also the only one who had suffered the indignity of being defeated for re-election. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in 1815 consisted of seven judges, three of whom (including Chief Justice John Marshall, himself a Federalist) were from Virginia or Kentucky, and only one of whom was from New England.
    • In 1790, the then-five New England states held 28.0% of the population of the United States. Twenty years later, they held only 20.3%. They had grown by over a third, but the rest of the country had grown by much more.
    • Since the Jefferson administration, it seemed, the favorite foreign-policy tool of the DRs was the economic embargo, a weapon that hurt the trade-based economies of the New England states at least as badly as it hurt the British or any other enemy.
    • Although they had been assured that the war was being fought for self-defense, they had already witnessed more than one attempted invasion of Canada. As for defense, the defense of the New England states had been severely underfunded — partly by their own state governments, but also by the federal government.
    In short, the New England Federalists saw themselves and their region as having a rapidly diminishing stake in a nation which had engaged itself in a war they opposed, and which had given no thought for their well-being…

    The news of New Orleans did not arrive in Hartford until the convention was almost over. A few hotheads like Bigelow tried to use this to call for more radical action, but they were kept in check by their peers. The final draft of the Convention’s report called for (among other things) limits on Congress’s power to declare war, admit new states or interfere with trade, a diminishing of the South’s electoral clout by ending the 3/5 compromise, and an end to the “Virginia dynasty,” but it revealed no interest in secession.
    Meanwhile, as we have seen, Rep. Timothy Pickering, of Massachusetts’ 2nd District, who had served as Secretary of State under John Adams, had already stated that the British capture of New Orleans would be the signal for the secession of New England. When sailors brought word to the capital (Congress was at this juncture meeting in the Patent Office, the only government building the British had left unharmed) that New Orleans had indeed fallen, Pickering knew that his time had come. He rose to inform the astounded representatives that New England would forthwith secede from the Union and seek a separate peace with Great Britain. (As soon as he had left, the remaining New England representatives hurriedly reassured the Virginians that they had no thought of secession. One of them, a Connecticut congressman with the magnificent name of Epaphroditus Champion, approvingly quoted the Richmond Enquirer from November 1 of the year just past, which stated that “no state nor set of States has a right to withdraw itself from this Union, of its own accord.”)
    Having thus distinguished himself, the 69-year-old Pickering then fled the city and rode hell-for-leather to Hartford in the middle of winter — only to find that the convention was long since over, and another one was not planned until June at the earliest. Not to be discouraged, he, along with John Lowell Jr. and a handful of other like-minded individuals, began work on a “Declaration of Independence” for the New England states.
    He announced his intentions by way of an advertisement in the Boston Centinel, in which he assured all interested parties that once New England had cast aside all ties to the regime in Washington, the British would leave it in peace. (To give the reader some idea of the mindset at work here, Pickering referred to his group as the “blue-lighters,” taking as a badge of honor Decatur’s spurious allegations of treason.)
    Unfortunately for Rep. Pickering, on the very day his advertisement ran, the Centinel also carried the news of the Treaty of Ghent, and with it the understandable expectation that there would soon be peace. The self-professed “blue-lighters” were now irrelevant, humiliated, and with no way of knowing that the worst was yet to come.
    Nor did they realize that Massachusetts Gov. Strong had been quietly making plans of his own…​
    Andrea Fessler, The Federalists: America’s First Second Party
  7. Arachnid Arachnid once more.

    Jan 17, 2006
    London, UK
    I see you are not going the DoD route of an independent New England off the back of Hartford and Pickering though there are some ominous hints...
  8. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    Lycaon pictus

    Interesting scenario and wondering how it will develop. Going to be something happening in NE but unclear what. Possibly an over-reaction by Governor Strong causing further unrest?

    In the south it sounds like the French population are going to consider looking for a protector and only really Britain comes to mind. [Although possibly restored Bourbon France but that could cause a hell of a lot of complications, especially if Boney returns as OTL]. If Louisiana does make a bid for British protection that could also complicate matters a lot. British control of the mouth of the Mississippi could greatly complicate matters, especially when emancipation comes around. It would foul up relations with the US but the latter doesn't have much ability to change matters for a generation or two at least. However could make the next few generations a lot bloodier in N America. Hopefully the 30 year war isn't going to be in N America.

    Actually another option might be to try and declare independence. That could create complications if recognised by Britain and other powers not to mention raise more questions in N England.

    Subscribing and looking to see more.:D

  9. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    In 1815, when steam engines were new and unreliable, it took about six or seven weeks to sail from the British Isles to North America. Thanks to the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift, however, the return journey took four to five weeks. So it was that Lord Liverpool learned about Keane’s capture of New Orleans near the end of January — some two weeks before Americans learned of the Treaty of Ghent.
    Left to himself, perhaps, the Prime Minister might have proceeded as though nothing had happened. The long war against Napoleon had dominated the business of his ministry, as it had that of the ill-fated Spencer Perceval and the five other Prime Ministers before him. Liverpool had been hoping for peace.
    But the reactionary wing of the Tory party, who hated the United States and all it stood for, demanded that the treaty be scrapped forthwith. They were joined in this by the editorialists of the Times, the Globe, the Sun and the Morning Chronicle. Some commentators called this an opportunity to take back the colonies entirely, heedless of the effort that would be required to subdue a republic of eight million recalcitrant souls scattered over an area twice the size of Spain and Portugal combined.
    Even those who were not inclined to hostility towards the United States pointed out that although war was expensive, the sudden onset of peace would surely disrupt the economy, with tens of thousands of soldiers and sailors all unemployed at once, and industries which had come to depend on the Crown’s purchases now in desperate need of new buyers. It was George Canning who suggested that a smaller conflict with the United States might ease the transition from the economy of war to that of peace.
    The Whigs were (for once) united in their opposition to any further pursuit of the war in the New World, but they found little support among the majority. When U.S. Ambassador John Quincy Adams addressed Parliament, demanding that the British adhere to the terms of the treaty, Lord Castlereagh replied, “How many treaties with the Indians has your young nation already signed and broken?” The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs further pointed out that by all accounts available thus far, the city of New Orleans had freely given its loyalty to the Crown.
    “Where now is your vaunted love of the high principle of self-determination?” said Castlereagh.
    What ultimately caused Lord Liverpool and the Duke of York to agree on the course of action they ultimately took was their frustrating lack of immediate knowledge. They knew New Orleans had been taken, but nothing beyond that. For all they knew, the British Empire might reign supreme over the Mississippi Valley, or Keane and Pakenham might have been driven back into the Gulf of Mexico.
    Many in both parties suggested that the Crown send a trusted emissary, a man who had proven his worth in both war and peace. But, again, in this pre-telegraph era news traveled no faster than it could be carried. By the time the emissary returned to London, his report would be a month out of date, and any response to it would take the better part of two months to reach the shores of the New World. Events in Louisiana were proving how much could happen in that time. Whoever was sent needed the capacity to respond to whatever situation presented itself in America.
    So it was that the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief were compelled by circumstances to give one of the strangest commands in the history of the Empire…​
    H. Michael Wolcott, The Great Breach in the Anglo-Saxon World: Its Causes And Consequences
  10. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006

    Intriguing. The only thing that comes to mind is instructing possibly Pakenham, as they won't know of his demise yet, to operate on his own initiative? The problem with this is that they also need to decide what happens in Canada and with the naval blockade as not much point if the war carries on in one area and not in another. Possibly someone in Canada, being nearer the scene of events is given authority.

  11. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    “There they were, all in one place — the best and the brightest, and all the sons and daughters of privilege, indulging in music and dancing and lovemaking and conversation as they dreamed of a better world and squabbled over its details, believing in their hearts that they had the power to take the Western world and reshape it into a form that would bring about peace forever.
    “It was not to be… but was it not a beautiful dream while it lasted?”

    Arthur Christopher Swinburne, An Essay on the Congress of Vienna

    February 13, 1815
    8:50 a.m.

    Sir Arthur Wellesley, recently created Duke of Wellington, had been in Vienna less than a month when the messenger came. The message found him at the gate of the Hofburg.

    When he read it, he had to restrain himself from cursing. Never in his life had he received such absurd orders. Never had he been sent on a less honorable mission. And the worst part was that Lord Castlereagh had left Vienna five days ago. From here on, Britain would have to be represented by his subordinates.

    Well, that needn’t be a disaster. Lord Clancarty was no Castlereagh, but he was competent enough. As for the other two, Lord Cathcart was an expert on Russian affairs, and that was about what he had going for him. Sir Charles Stewart was an excellent soldier, and as a diplomat, was… an excellent soldier. They were perhaps not the ideal triumvirate to preserve Europe from Russian domination, but they would have to do.

    He found Richard Trench, the second Earl of Clancarty, in the Minoritenplatz not two blocks away.

    “I’m afraid I must leave the business of the Crown in your hands,” he said. “I have been called away. With the exception of the King’s German Legion, all British forces currently in the Low Countries are being transferred to our holdings on the North American mainland, and I am to take command of them.”

    Clancarty blinked for a moment.

    “Are we at war with the colonials again?” he finally said.

    “We don’t… know.” It took a great effort for Wellington to keep from raising his voice. He hated giving long explanations, even under sane circumstances.

    “Remember Toulouse?” he said. “You weren’t there, of course, but you might have heard of it. Bloody business it was… but the worst part was finding out that Boney had abdicated four days earlier. The whole battle need never have been fought. And this looks to be an even worse mess.” He explained to them how the city of New Orleans had been seized even as the Treaty of Ghent was being signed — or slightly before.

    “We hold a few other locations,” he continued, “A town on the coast, a few islands… but New Orleans is the only thing His Majesty’s government truly cares about.

    “By now they should be learning of the treaty, but Ned — that is, Sir Edward Pakenham — and the other officers are very clear that they are not leaving New Orleans without specific orders to that effect. So the Prime Minister and our illustrious Commander in Chief His Grace Frederick Duke of York have decreed in their infinite wisdom that I and my army are to cross the whole ocean without having the least idea whether or not we have a war to fight. A sort of… reconnaisance in overwhelming force, you might say.

    “If the treaty has been put into full effect — that is to say, if our army has already withdrawn from New Orleans, or been forced from it — there’ll be nothing for it but for myself and the whole army to turn around and come back across the pond.”

    “And if we still hold New Orleans?”

    “Then I am to determine the attitude of the New Orleansians, or whatever they are called, towards our occupation. If they wish to be restored to the United States, off we go.”

    “And if they wish us to remain?”

    “In that event,” Wellington said, gritting his teeth, “according to their Lordships, the treaty can go hang.”

    Clancarty blinked.

    “The official line is something to do with the illegitimacy of the Louisiana Purchase,” he said, “but the truth is… they want New Orleans. The city commands the mouth of the Mississippi. You recall Malta and the Treaty of Amiens? ‘The forces of His Britannic Majesty shall evacuate the island, and its dependencies, within three months of the exchange of the ratifications, or sooner if possible…’ etc., etc. Of course, the forces of His Britannic Majesty did nothing of the sort — partly because Old Boney wasn’t keeping up his end of the bargain, but never mind that.

    “The good news is that I have been granted ‘full plenipotentiary power’ in this matter. I will be acting in the name of the King — or rather, the Prince Regent — and my decisions will be binding. I will be the one to decide if there is to be peace or war. And I will not throw a perfectly good treaty on the bonfire unless the people of New Orleans are clear and united in their desire for us to remain.

    “Give me regrets to everyone here. Explain the situtaion as best you can. While you’re at it, tell that fool of a Spaniard we have an interest in making a purchase of Florida.”

    “We already agreed to pay the Spanish 400,000 pounds to end their part in the slave trade.”

    “Buy them off again. Pay whatever you need to pay — but for God’s sake, don’t tell Don Pedro I said so.”

    “What about Louisiana? Should we make a… legitimate… purchase of it ourselves?”

    “Not until we know more.”

    And so, Wellington started to pack his bags. He found he was half sorry and half relieved. He’d been here for a few weeks, and it seemed like about four parts partying to one part work. Dances and banquets and concerts and all sorts of social events every night. Wellington enjoyed a party now and then, but this was a surfeit and then some.

    A surfeit and then some — if Vienna had a civic motto, that would be it. Beautiful women, rich desserts, fine brandy, the best music… here was a place where a man could actually begin to tire of these things. Also, concerts (especially the violins) always made him feel wistful, and he didn’t like feeling wistful.

    He met Klemens von Metternich at the door.

    “Lord Clancarty told me what you’re about,” said the prince. “I wish you luck — perhaps you will get Britain’s own back, and clean up that nasty little puddle of democracy once and for all.”

    Whatever his other qualities, the duke reflected, Metternich was not a military man.

    “Give me nothing but the twelve thousand Britons in the Low Countries now, and I can thrash any army the Yankees care to send my way,” he said. “But conquest? That is something else entirely. Anyone who served in Spain could tell you that conquering a nation means more than just defeating its armies.”

    February 22, 1815
    Just after noon
    St. Francisville, Louisiana

    There was no need to call for silence in the ranks as the British army marched south along the river. No one was in the mood to talk.

    Natchez had been a vicious fight, and one that had ended with the army retreating from an enemy they outnumbered… an enemy they had thrashed more than once. At the time it had seemed like the right thing to do — they were in enemy territory, they’d taken heavy losses, and who knew if reinforcements were coming — but now they were all starting to second-guess themselves.

    They had dug in at Fort Adams and waited, practically hoping General Coffee would come and try to force him out. Instead, what had come was two messengers, within days of each other, with news of Ghent. Pakenham might have been willing to stay in the face of that, but Keane was not.

    And now, Keane, riding at the head of his army, felt worse than any of his men. The guilt over the death of his commanding officer felt like a 12-pound iron round shot sitting in his chest. The city of New Orleans, intact and under the Union Jack, was the only thing he had to show for his efforts… and now, it seemed, he was to give it back.

    As his horse went around the bend in the road, he met a small party of men riding up from the south. Two of them, in front, were carrying flags. The one on the left was the Union Jack. The one on the right Keane had never seen before.

    DS Louisiana Republic.png

    “Nous représentons la République de la Louisiane, une nation indépendante sous la protection de la Couronne,” said the man holding the strange flag.

    “It is all right here in black and white,” said the man holding the British flag. With his other hand he pulled out a rolled parchment and handed it to one of Keane’s officers, who gave it to the general.

    As Keane read it, he saw that it was more than just a declaration of independence. According to this, the Louisiana Purchase had never been legitimate, and therefore the people of the French colony had never been truly citizens of the United States. Their wishes had never been consulted, and now for the first time they had expressed them. If this were presented as an argument in a court of law, the judge would fall on the floor laughing.

    Keane said nothing. These people could proclaim themselves citizens of a republic, subjects of the Crown or warlords of the moon, but in his opinion, they would be better served by spending less time proclaiming and more time packing. The United States was coming back to this land, and its leaders were already unreasonably angry with the city and state government. This would only make them angrier.

    Nonetheless, he managed to avoid giving the emissaries of the “republic” a straight answer.

    March 1, 1815
    About 10 a.m.

    The last few British soldiers in the Low Countries were boarding the transports. Wellington wasn’t watching. Nor was he listening to Lord Paget. He was staring at a letter from Lord Castlereagh. It told him that his brother-in-law Ned had been killed in battle, scaling a barricade against the Yankees in a far corner of the Americas, on a hill at a place called Natchez.

    It was not like hearing of the unexpected loss of a loved one in an accident — there was no shock, no bewildered denial before the grief set in. Nor was it like the long-expected last breath of an ailing grandfather. He had always known this day could come, but not that it would. There had always been hope that the two of them would survive this long age of war, grow old rehashing the stories of the Peninsula and France, and wherever else they fought together… until this morning.

    Well, Ned had certainly died as he lived — Wellington had never known a braver man. And it sounded as though Paget was trying to tell him something important.

    “I beg your pardon, Henry,” he said. “What were you saying?”

    “I was saying, sir, that the 33rd and 73rd of Foot have embarked for to New Orleans — if the ships aren’t permitted to land, they’ll sail to Jamaica — and the 52nd is on its way to St. Augustine. Everything else is headed for Halifax or the Maine-New Brunswick border.”

    “Good.” Louisiana was too far from the American population centers to hit them where it hurt, and Florida was a howling wilderness that could not support more than one regiment for any length of time. Any serious attack on Yankee territory — if such were necessary — would have to be launched from the north. Wellington would rather have had the 52nd by his side, but if any one regiment could hold its own in a distant place far from any friend, it would be the Light Bobs.

    “Ultimately, between the units there and the units being sent over from the British Isles, you shall have some 24,000 men under your command. I only hope they have good cavalry horses in Halifax.” Transporting this many men across the Atlantic on such short notice would have been complicated enough without trying to bring their horses along.

    Before boarding, Wellington looked at the letter in his hands again. God willing, there will be no need to fight at all, he thought. But if there is, Ned, I’ll make it a fight worthy of you.

    Then he walked up the gangplank, not looking back. At that very moment, nearly six hundred miles to the south, Napoleon Bonaparte was entering the town of Golfe-Juan.

    DS Louisiana Republic.png
  12. Arachnid Arachnid once more.

    Jan 17, 2006
    London, UK
    Oh bugger, you've just taken the vast majority of the British forces out of Europe just in time for the Hundred Days? That's going to be interesting, though from this:

    I suspect that it will be a lot longer than A Hundred Days.
    SomeFollowTheStars likes this.
  13. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    British opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of peace, not of continuing a war in North America, after a quarter century of fighting and taxation. Plus New Orleans or North America as a whole was far less important to London than Europe.

    On the other hand in the decades to come the British are liable to reconsider the wisdom of this precedent that treaties with the British can be dispensed with whenever one party wishes...perhaps as early as the aftermath of Napoleon's successful return to power.
  14. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    Aracnid, Lycaon

    That is one problem. The other is even for a government this is a shambles. You take Britain's most important military and diplomatic leader and the bulk of it's forces out of Europe and across the Atlantic, a major operation in itself, without knowing whether there is any purpose to it.:confused:

    Also we have the incidental chaos caused by the desire of the Louisianans for independence [and presumably British protection]. If Britain finds out about it the government might decide to overrule Keane as they would be in a position to do under the circumstances, but this could itself be too late to prevent him withdrawing. Or simply Wellington might not get to New Orleans before Keane and the troops are withdrawn. It's amazing how much instantaneous communications can simplify matters like this and their lack can cause no end of problems.

    I'm wondering if part way into the Atlantic Wellington's ship will be caught by a fast packet and informed of Napoleon returning. If so what does he do then with his army travelling to assorted parts of N America.

    Strictly speaking I would expect Napoleon to still lose and be deposed. The Prussians, without British support, are likely to withdraw from Belgium without a fight. However there are huge Austrian and Russian armies that will be marching west and Boney has a pretty fragile grip on power. Once people realise that his return means a lot more fighting and bloodshed and the troops that have rallied to his are consumed then support will vanish pretty damned quickly.

    However what will be different will be that other than naval and economic support Britain will have only a small role to play in the final campaign. A lot of veterans had been disbanded and were re-enlisted for the Waterloo campaign but with about half the peninsula veterans and most of the commanders somewhere in the Atlantic their going to be a lot less important and you won't have a major British role in the critical battle. Hence Britain will have somewhat less say in the final treaty and you might also see a harsher treaty further restricting France after the relatively generous one offered in 1814.

  15. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    stevep, this Prussian retreat, which is certainly the sensible thing to do, improves France's position by giving them a strong water boundary in the Rhine for much of their border while allowing Napoleon to recruit on a large scale in an occupied(liberated?) Belgium, a concern to the British OTL.

    If Blucher does not retreat the effective elimination of Prussia as a military power for the next year or three along with the worst British losses in the entire quarter century of war becomes likely.

    In that event all it takes is for Napoleon to come to some sort of arrangement with his relatives by marriage in Austria and...:eek:

    One problem is that many of the developments OTL have already been raised or agreed on, which is going to leave places like Belgium, Denmark, Poland and such more amenable to an intelligent French diplomatic effort...not to mention Austria facing the loss of the Polish buffer with Russia while Prussian power increases on a much larger basis than Austria.
  16. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    As an unpleasant detail Napoleon had reintroduced conscription and called out the classes of 1814 and 1815. That's roughly half a million(!) French men undergoing training while he headed to Waterloo OTL.

    If the allied powers do not score a decisive victory quickly...
  17. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    Interesting. I thought I remember reading, although a fair while ago that he hadn't dared restore conscription. Hence was limited to volunteers and while a number of veteran troops rallied to the flag and he was training others the barrel was nearly dry. Don't forget that France has been fighting for ~25 years and especially in his later years Napoleon's methods were very costly for the French. Similarly for other areas he recruited in so don't rely on that much support in border areas that come under his control.

    The Rhine is a barrier but France will still be short of troops compared to the forces he's facing and if he tries to recruit in Belgium it will rapidly impact on his popularity. Also with British control of the seas then the French will face quick disruption of trade and communications and the danger of being flanked by sea.

    Prussia I can see although I think a failure to retreat is unlikely. It was only Blutcher's determination that meant the Prussians continued to support Wellington. Without a strong British presence I can't see them staying in Belgium, especially when there's the danger of being isolated and destroyed.

    By this time Austria has already servered links between him and Marie Louise and found a new lover for her. Given he was threatening to throw Europe into chaos again I can't see Austria or any other leaders supporting his return. Excepting possibly the historical of of Murat in Naples.

    Poland is going to go anyway, which Prussia and Russia especially are determined. Denmark is going to lose Norway but opinion in Belgium as I say will be mixed.

    I don't see what you mean about Prussian power increasing in comparison to Austrian? Do you mean the OTL changes which saw Prussia established on the Rhine, which is already agreed or do you think it will make other gains as a result of the longer war against Napoleon? I think that is unlikely and Prussia, already strained is more likely to suffer, at least in the shorter term from a prolonged war.

    Alternatively, if Napoleon did manage to make some deal which leaves him in power and say a Rhine frontier, that would impact more on Prussia than on Austria.

  18. Wet Coast Knight of the Dinner Table

    Nov 26, 2009
    Not so. Britian can state that they will honor the treaty and leave all American territory. They can then further state that since Louisianna has declared its independance, which Britian recognizes, it is thus no longer American territory and that British troops are there because of the defence treaty signed with Louisianna. After all don't the Americans believe in democratic self-determination?

    At which point I'm guessing the restored Napoleon would push for a Franco-American alliance against the British. The extra fuel on the fire would be the British purchase of Florida which many Americans saw as rightfully theirs as well.
  19. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006

    I must admit I'm not clear why Britain is seeking to buy Florida. It's a potential base to operate against America if you're determined on war with them. However whether you do or not it's a location that would need defending and without that is likely to fall under American control pretty soon. Coupled with the fact that between Louisiana and Florida you would cut America off from the Gulf coast and that would have serious implications for them it's something that doesn't seem in the British interest unless they want to break the US as a threat.

    I can see Britain having an interest in New Orleans as its a way of gaining revenge for the US attack without seriously threatening them and the views of the locals gives a moral justification for it. However not Florida as well.

  20. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    Wet Coast, I've barely touched the absurdity of the British calling into serious question the reliability of diplomatic agreements with London just as they are sitting down to determine the future of all Europe and more.

    As for New Orleans...the treaty has been signed, the British(and Americans) have agreed to return to the pre-war boundaries and New Orleans lies within American territory so that would about as credible as the British finding out that the Americans, in the last days before signing the treaty, moved into Canada and are recognizing the decision by the occupied piece of Canada to become independent and expect the British to go along.

    stevep, he had reintroduced conscription for the classes of 1814(never called up) and 1815(he just returned) but no others. Unfortunately that alone was an alarming number of men. As for Belgium, they're being assigned to Holland so a certain level of support for France is assured.

    As for Austria, the British are obviously distracted and looking unreliable so it might occur to Austria that a continent where Russia and Prussia dominate, if they defeat Napoleon, may not be so desireable and if France is offers a reasonable settlement, perhaps leaving Austria all the gains in for gains Prussia certainly did better in 1815 than did Austria.