The Dead Skunk

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

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

    Apr 19, 2011
    When I said "at the moment" I was thinking of the moment when Keane took the plunge. By the time Wellington gets to America, he'll have expanded his defensive lines at least far enough that he won't risk having to engage in urban warfare again.
  2. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    stevep, there won't be a DOW. The US will simply reject the treaty which the British signed but are not honoring. Neither is the US betraying any principle, having extended negotiations previously for so long specifically because of the refusal to yield territory.

    Best case for Keane will be a return to Europe with advice from the Duke of Wellington to die bravely and as soon as possible.:(
  3. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    I just noticed one detail...if the British have freed the slaves in New Orleans then the leaders of the republic will suddenly and dramatically rediscover the virtue of being in the US...and seizure of property by British officers reversed.
  4. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    The British didn't free all the slaves. They seized the ones that crossed their path in the initial invasion. It was Villeré's bad luck that they happened to stop at his plantation on the way to New Orleans.

    Now that I think of it, however, if Villeré had established himself early on as being on their side, they would have returned his "property" to him. Thank you. Time to rewrite a little history.;)
  5. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    Always a pleasure to be of service.:cool:

    tips hat
  6. bm79 Citoyen Louisianais

    Apr 28, 2008
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    You are obviously not from New Orleans and in fact have probably never been to Louisiana:p. In this part of the country, cardinal directions don't mean much. I guess you mean the Brits control the River from the mouth to New Orleans. "Points South" around here doesn't mean didly squat, especially since in 1815 that describes the city and a bunch of alligators. We have four directions here in Southeast Louisiana:

    Upriver (In New Orleans "Uptown")
    Downriver ("Downtown")

    Just to give you an idea of how convoluted our directions get, I live at 4010 Laurel St. That's "the 3rd house up from the uptown riverside corner of Laurel and Constantinople." That's how the real estate agent listed it. Your can google it, it's still green (I keep meaning to paint) and the roof ornament is still askew from Katrina (I've kinda grown to love my cock-eyed snail's-head. I have the epoxy to fix it, but not the will to climb up on the roof).

    What I guess you mean is "New Orleans and downriver." That leaves a lot of settled areas unprotected. If the Brits are acting as the "protectors" of the Louisiana Republic, I'd imagine that at least they'd have forces stationed somewhere along Bayou Manchac, the northern border of the "Île d'Orléans," at the very least.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
  7. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    Obviously the British will be required in self defense to introduce a new system of directions for New Orleans, preferably a system which does not elicit constant requests that a particular set of directions be repeated in English when they were given in English the first time.:p
    Chargone likes this.
  8. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    Guilty as charged. I meant, of course "everything between New Orleans and the sea that they can either walk on or pilot a gunboat through."

    I may have to hire you as a consultant.
  9. bm79 Citoyen Louisianais

    Apr 28, 2008
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    My rates are very reasonable :p

    Still, does that include the "privateer" bases along Barataria Bay? That would extend British control along the Westbank along Barataria Blvd. (formerly a bayou) down to Lafitte and include Grand Isle and Grand'Terre.
  10. bm79 Citoyen Louisianais

    Apr 28, 2008
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    Tant pis!! :p These are the directions which have survived 2 centuries of Americanisation.
  11. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006

    Britain has not rejected the treaty. It has returned all America lands, apart from the Sherbooke pocket in Maine, which I presume was an OTL occurrence. It's just that, thanks to US stupidity, an area which was briefly part of the US has decided it would rather stay unplundered.

    Wellington when he hears about it, or London, at some more distant time, may reject Keane's decision to recognise the republic but until that time, if the US attack Keane's men it will be an act of war.

    I am presuming that OTL Sherbrooke was sat on by London and withdrew. It might be that they would sacrifice the population of New Orleans as well but that the Americans, faced with two hold-outs, one of which breaches the treaty, decide to reopen the conflict.

  12. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    stevep, New Orleans is American territory as understood by the British and American negotiators and thus to be returned to the US under the treaty or the British have rejected the treaty. Indeed, had there been any hint that New Orleans, if captured, would not be returned there would have been no treaty in the first place.

    As Lycaon pictus has made clear the British understand that to keep New Orleans as a client means rejecting the treaty.
  13. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    Of course war may be unavoidable.

    Imagine the Duke of Wellington arriving with reinforcements being unable to find Keane or the British forces he expected to find in New Orleans.

    Will he for a moment consider the American claim that Keane and his forces made the fatal mistake of asking natives of New Orleans for directions and then followed those directions until, hopelessly lost, they all perished in the swamps and were devoured by catfish?
  14. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    It was. To be honest, I don't know why Sherbrooke took until late April in OTL to get out of Castine. I suspect that he was waiting for confirmation that the Crown really wasn't willing to refight the war for the sake of "New Ireland" (Maine east of the Penobscot). ITTL, of course, with Keane and Cochrane practically going rogue in Louisiana, he'll be even less inclined to leave.

    Unless, of course…
  15. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    March 30, 1815
    Washington, D.C.
    President James Madison looked around his office and sighed once again. The Octagon House was a very nice place, but when the President of the United States was living on someone else’s property because he’d been burned out of his mansion by an enemy, something had gone terribly wrong somewhere.

    James Monroe and William Crawford winced a little at the expression on his face.

    “You must be ruing the day you listened to our advice,” said Monroe.

    “Don’t blame yourself — either of you,” said the president. “I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that things could come to such a pass. And if I had offered the amnesty bill or guaranteed pardons, who’s to say things wouldn’t have turned out even worse?”

    “What do you think of this message from Claiborne?” said Monroe.

    “If Claiborne thinks that this Keane is sincere, then so do I,” said Madison. “I also think that I am a head of state and I am not going to negotiate with Keane or Sherbrooke or any other underling of the Crown. Do these people follow orders, or do they not?”

    “One wonders,” said Crawford. “Do you think war is likely?”

    “I hope not,” said Madison. “All the same, we’d better reinforce the defenses along the border. Especially Detroit — I am not losing that place again. Send Lieutenant Colonel Armistead to take charge of the defenses there. He did more than well enough at Fort McHenry.”

    “Have you heard that Governor Strong has decided to call out the Massachusetts militia?” said Monroe.

    “Has he?” said Madison. “Better late than never, I suppose.”

    “What about Speaker Clay?” said Crawford. “Is it true he offered to negotiate with the New Orleanians?”

    “He did,” said the president. “He would have done better to silence the hotheaded War Hawks in our party.”

    “Perhaps,” said Monroe, “but at least no one will accuse him of plotting our capitulation.”

    “Certainly not,” said Madison. “At this point, I’m tempted, but… think of the precedent it would set. If a part of the nation secedes and harbors foreign troops on its soil, must we negotiate to win them back? Given the sort of regional divisions we’ve already seen, I don’t care to see future administrations held hostage to every disaffected state and city.”

    * * *

    April 5, 1815

    What was it Dr. Johnson had said? Ah, yes. "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

    At the moment, the mind of Governor Caleb Strong was feeling painfully concentrated. They were going to find out. Sooner or later they were going to find out.

    Last year, when things had looked particularly bleak, he had written to Sir John Sherbrooke, proposing to take his state out of the war entirely, allowing the British to keep the parts of Maine they’d taken. He hadn’t gotten a response, and not long after that the peace treaty had been signed… but now it looked like they were in danger of war again, and the enemy had proof of his attempted betrayal.

    “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Those last five words seemed to be echoing inside his head. Bringing his state to a separate peace with the British Empire, allowing them to concentrate their forces elsewhere… what else could you call it?

    “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” Unfortunately, all they would need would be Sherbrooke and his secretary.

    There was never a good time to be caught betraying your country, but this was a worse time than usual. Thanks to those Creole maniacs in New Orleans, the people were up in arms against traitors of any sort.

    And the biggest irony of all was that his constituents had hated this war. If the treaty had never been signed, the people of Massachusetts might have applauded him for getting him out of the war cheaply. If New Orleans hadn’t fallen, he at least could have hoped no one would have found out about what he’d done until he was already dead. Now, he could see his future and there was a noose at the end of it.

    He couldn’t very well write to Sherbrooke and ask nicely for his letter back. The only thing he could do was prove, by his deeds, that he was loyal to the United States.

    He looked at himself in the mirror. Perhaps he didn’t cut the most martial of figures even in his uniform, but the militia wouldn’t care. He had given the order a month ago. By now there should be a force assembled in Portland and ready to move.

    His bags were packed. He was ready for war. If Sherbrooke wouldn’t leave Castine of his own free will, Strong would drive him out.

    * * *

    April 7, 1815

    A packet ship left Liverpool harbor carrying messages from all over the British Isles — but not as many as usual. The captain had been given one message in particular, from the Prince Regent to the Duke of Wellington, and been ordered to sail as soon as the tide allowed.

    By the standards of the time, packet ships were very fast indeed. This one could make the voyage from Liverpool to New York City in a mere forty days. Of course, finding Wellington, unlike finding New York, would take up at least a few days. Nonetheless, the captain was confident he would have the message in the general’s hands before the end of May.
  16. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    Lycaon pictus

    Bugger, that sounds like a new war is going to be blundered into. Because of the reaction by hotheads in America to the loss of New Orleans and the resultant response of the locals everything's up in the air. This triggers a new conflict in the north which will prevent a quick and peaceful conclusion of the matter. Have no doubt that Wellington would order Sherbrooke to withdraw and suspect strongly that he would obey but if Wellington finds a shooting war already going on before he gets there.:(

    I'm tempted, because of the desire for peace in Britain, that he would also order Keane to desert the Louisianan's. However if there's fighting already going on that's going to become more complex.

    Then there's the matter of when that packet ship and it's message catches up with him, if it does at all as it's probably going to be wandering into a war zone.

    So it sounds very much like a decent man, doing the moral thing, is going to inadvertently trigger a new conflict no one really wants!:(

    Mind you it sounds like Monroe and Crawford have a lot of answer for as well as they seem to have pushed for conflict, even if only the massacre of the Louisianan's. They must have been pretty stupid to realise that people wouldn't have allowed themselves to be murdered as they seem to have expected.:mad:


    Was the approach by Strong to Sherbrooke OTL? Sounds an extreme step although I know there was a deep hostility to the war in New England. Wouldn't he be better keeping a low profile as this is bound to prompt
  17. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

    Apr 19, 2011
    They didn't push for conflict. They advised President Madison to hold off on promising pardons for the Louisianans or introducing an amnesty bill until New Orleans had been liberated/reconquered. Their plan was more or less for the U.S. Army to retake the city and arrest all the "traitors," and then for the government to graciously forgive them and set them free, proving the nation both strong and merciful. Things didn't quite go according to plan.

    It was indeed, and I was astounded to learn about it.
  18. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    So they just failed to think through the consequences of their actions. Easily enough done. Or possibly they didn't realise how vicious the mood was in the forces that would attack New Orleans. Their made it clear that there's not going to be a fair trial, if one at all and even if the government did issue an amnesty after the sacking of the city it might not be obeyed.

    Mind you strictly speaking it's Jackson's fault for being such an incompetent coward. If he had admitted defeat and withdrawn to fight another day then there would have been no problem. However he insisted on malicious destruction apparently just because he couldn't face the fact he lost. Hitler would be proud of him.:mad:

    You're not the only one.;)

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

    Apr 19, 2011
    Actually, "coward" is just about the only word I wouldn't use to describe him — he'd probably rise from his grave and challenge me to a duel. Notice that I had him go down fighting like a meth-crazed honey badger.

    But yeah, even historians who like him seem to think he would have destroyed a city to deny it to the enemy, and his reputation ITTL is pretty much in the toilet. No $20 bill for him.
  20. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    Lycaon pictus

    I was using it in the moral sense in that he was prepared to destroy the city out of pure spite because he had been defeated.

    Partly my strong reaction is because I'm empathising with Keane a lot as he's been put in a very difficult position as, unlike Jackson, he does have morals. Through no fault of his own, or the population of Louisiana, he has to either risk disobeying orders or stand by and allow a vicious massacre. It's especially difficult since having fought and then got to know them he and at least some of his men have a fair level of knowledge and respect for the locals.

    Unfortunately Jackson isn't held in as much contempt as you suggest as he's being used as the reason for the hostility to Louisiana. After all it's not as if other areas weren't surrendered to Britain at various stages in the war that had [nearly] ended.