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

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    The Battle of Levy’s Field
    5/16​

    “How do you Yankee Doodles like the King’s law now?” — Colonel John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton, commanding the 52nd Light Infantry
    Three units of Georgia militia, acting under orders from Governor Peter Early, crossed the border and invaded Florida on May 15, with the intention of fighting and defeating the British regiment at St. Augustine.
    They never reached St. Augustine or fought the regiment in question. They were ambushed by Seminoles under the command of the chief Kinache in a stretch of virgin forest near the present-day location of Sepharad.[1] They retreated to a field owned by Moses Elias Levy (father of David Levy Yulee, future governor of Florida) but were quickly surrounded.
    The First Regiment of Cavalry, under the command of Captain John M. Berrien[2], was able to fight its way out of the trap and return to U.S. territory, but it could not come to the aid of the Second Regiment or the Liberty Independent Troop. Only the intervention of the “Light Bobs,” the regiment the Georgians had come to fight, saved the militiamen from massacre at the hands of the Seminoles.

    David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812


    [1] OTL Jacksonville.
    [2] Remember this name.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
  2. stevep Member

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    Lycaon pictus

    Other than the Detroit/Niagra front, which is where I'll most like to see success:(, things seem to be going very well for Britain.:D Not quite sure how we're in Florida since I thought it was still Spanish?

    That comment about "(After the war, the Chickasaw would be granted a residency in Louisiana.)" does suggest that Louisiana, possibly a hell of a lot of it, are going to stay outside US hands. A French speaking republic under British protection could cause a hell of a lot of butterflies and going to be interesting to see who and how their lands are settled by.

    Holding Florida, even in the shorter term is markedly less likely although the eastern section, with it's swampy terrain could be rather more difficult to overrun than OTL, when it wasn't that easy.

    As I've said I would love to see some gains to protect the Indians in at least part of the old NW but that seems unlikely. Possibly some deal could be made trading off Florida say if that has passed to Britain. [Since the NW region would be more useful and easier to hold].

    The other question of course is timing. Once news reaches them of events in Europe what does Wellington and the US leadership do? Have a fear it will make them think if they wait they will force concessions. [That could backfire if it gets his back up!].

    Suspect that Cochrane is going to be a pain. Very useful for distracting forces from Wellington's line of march but likely to alienate a hell of a lot of people, especially in a region that was very friendly to Britain.:(

    Steve
     
  3. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

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    The Battle of Newburyport
    5/20​

    “Sic semper piratis.” — Rear Admiral Sir Pultney Malcolm, K.C.B., aboard HMS Royal Oak
    Although Cochrane benefited at Portland from Wellington’s drawing the militia away from the city, this battle marked the first intentional coordination of land and naval power in the campaign. As Wellington prepared to bring his army across the river, Cochrane’s fleet sailed up the Merrimack and bombarded the town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, a key privateering port, taking aim at artillery positions and troop concentrations. The bombardment did not stop until some of Wellington’s boats were already past the fleet.
    Despite the cannonade, Wellington’s men took heavy casualties crossing the river. They returned the favor when they reached the southern bank, forming lines under fire with remarkable speed and driving the militia south from their positions. There was just enough of the town left for the British and Canadians to bivouac in for the night.
    Near the end of the battle, the Vermont and New Hampshire militia arrived at the north bank of the Merrimack too late to prevent the British from crossing. They exchanged fire with Wellington’s retreating rear guard while Cochrane’s fleet employed their starboard guns against the latecomers.

    David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011
  4. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

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    The Third Battle of Sackett’s Harbor
    5/22​

    “I can still shoot, but someone else will have to help me reload.” — New York Governor Daniel D. Tompkins
    After the Great Chazy River, when General Brown turned southeast to pursue Wellington, Sir Gordon Drummond picked up reinforcements and turned west to make another attack on Sackett’s Harbor.
    Although Tompkins was outnumbered, he made the most of the resources at hand, hastily improvising a fortified line south of Mill Creek, then launching an attack on the enemy’s flank, rolling them up and driving them toward Black River Bay, where the newly-commissioned USS Natchez opened fire on them and forced them to surrender. Ironically, it is now believed to be a glancing blow from a stray piece of grapeshot from the Natchez that shattered the bones in the governor's left wrist, forcing its amputation.

    David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812
     
  5. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

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    The Battle of Charlestown-beyond-the-Neck
    5/23-24​

    “Last week would have been a good time to evacuate.” — Ebenezer Oliver, of the Boston Board of Selectmen
    General Brown actually arrived in the Boston area the day before Wellington did — only to find that the Royal Navy was in complete control of the harbor and in the process of seizing control of the neck that linked the city to the mainland. Moreover, he had fewer than 10,000 U.S. regulars with which to oppose Wellington’s army, with no prospect of more for several days. The portion of the Massachusetts militia still willing to fight the duke was mostly holed up in Boston itself under the command of acting Governor William Phillips, Jr.
    With this in mind, and having just learned what happened at Newburyport, Brown chose heavy use of delaying tactics rather than open confrontation when the British army crossed the Mystic River. Riflemen in secure positions picked off individual soldiers. Field-pieces were concealed in houses, where they fired at the British through the wooden walls. When Wellington moved closer to the harbor and the protection of the fleet, mines hidden in barrels went off. It took the British most of 24 hours to force their way through the town and across the Charles River.

    David Harvey Copp, Military Engagements of the War of 1812
     
  6. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

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    Here's where we are on the eve of the Battle of Roxbury.

    DS Bloody May Basic 2.0.png
     
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  7. stevep Member

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    Lycaon pictus

    Being so quick on the uptake:eek: I've trigged that red and blue are British and American victories but the last one seems more of a tactical American one despite the colour. Their won time and inflicted casualties for minimal losses themselves. Given that Brown only arrived there a day before Wellington he was also damned quick to get those defences in place or did some of the troops start setting them up in advance.

    How many men does Wellington have? I know he had, depending on the date, about 30-60k troops in the peninsula, but that included the KGL and possibly some other non-British troops. [Not counting the Portuguse and Spanish that were also under his control].

    Steve
     
  8. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

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    Yeah, Brown did about the best possible job given the circumstances. Of course, Wellington is still getting closer and closer to a city the Americans really do not want to lose.

    Wellington's army is about 25,000, maybe a little more. Small by Napoleonic standards, but much bigger than any army in the OTL War of 1812.
     
  9. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

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    (Note: if you're looking at a map of the Boston area, make sure it's one from before the 1850s when they started filling in Back Bay, or this won't make much sense.)



    May 26, 1815
    12:15 a.m.
    Roxbury, Massachusetts

    From his position at the top of the hill, Wellington listened to the sound of the gunfire from the west. It was getting fiercer and fiercer… but not louder. The battle was coming no closer. His men were not falling back.

    Good, he thought. This General Brown was learning the Americans weren’t the only ones who knew how to fight from cover. The fight in the apple orchard to the east this morning had been as close as he had come to dislodging the British from the high ground, and it hadn’t been nearly close enough.

    To the north, the situation was well in hand. Enough buildings had been knocked down on the narrow strand connecting Boston to the mainland that the ships of the line had a clear field of fire.

    Right now, he was trying to concentrate on the problem to the south. Scouts had reported the enemy was massing its cavalry for a charge. This was not exactly ideal cavalry country, which gave him an idea how desperate they must be. They were planning to charge up Warren and Eustis street and meet behind his lines.

    “Are all the Congreves ready?”

    “Just getting the last of ‘em in position, general,” called one of the engineers.

    Wellington took his spyglass.

    “Be quick about it!” he shouted. “The attack will begin at any” — before he could even say the word “moment” the distant thunder of ten thousand horses began.

    He waited. The noise was getting louder — not just because the Yankees on horseback were getting closer, but because they were riding harder and picking up speed. Horses didn’t go straight to a gallop all at once. The perfect moment to strike was coming.

    Any second now. Out of the corner of his eye, Wellington saw with some indignation that some idiot of a Navy messenger was here and trying to get his attention. Fortunately, Morriset had him in hand, and was putting his formidable powers of intimidation to work.

    And… now. Wellington turned, locked eyes with a specific aide and nodded.

    The aide blew a bugle.

    Five thousand rockets streaked toward the enemy in the next three seconds.

    Congreves were tools of limited use. They couldn’t be aimed at anything smaller than an army and didn’t pack enough punch to use against fortifications, but they were perfect for terrifying horses. After lugging the damned things all the way here, Wellington was happy to have an excuse to make them the enemy’s problem instead of his.

    The attack had just been shattered. Horses were crashing into one another, turned aside or fled in panic, their riders no longer in control. That said nothing about the men and beasts that had been killed or wounded in those few seconds.

    As soon as those American cavalrymen who could retreat had done so, Wellington turned his attention to the west. The gunfire was dying down. The attack there was failing as well. Now he could turn his attention to whatever missive Cochrane had seen fit to interrupt him with.

    He read it. It wasn’t from Cochrane after all.

    He could feel his face starting to burn. He gritted his teeth and willed his hands not to shake from rage. He turned to the messenger, who was still trying not to look at Morriset.

    “Thank you,” he said in a voice almost completely devoid of inflection. “You did well to bring this to me. That will be all.”

    Wellington retreated to the building he’d commandeered as headquarters, Morriset following close behind. Once he was out of everyone’s earshot, he exploded.

    “GOD DAMN IT!” he shouted. “Peace! War! Take New Orleans! Give it back! Take it away again! Sail to America! Sail back to England! And everything seven weeks late! IS THIS ANY WAY TO RUN AN EMPIRE? IS THIS ANY WAY TO FIGHT A WAR?” Wellington rarely lost his temper completely, but this was a special occasion. When he could keep his voice level, he told Morriset to send a messenger to Brown under a flag of truce, requesting a cease-fire. This done, he explained the situation.

    Old Boney was back. The French, incredibly, were rallying to him. The allies had pledged men and material to put paid to him. To this end, you are required to do whatever may be needful to settle affairs in North America as expeditiously as possible, then to proceed with all surviving forces of the March expedition and as many units of the British Army as our New World colonies can spare

    It was signed by the Prince Regent. Below that was the signature of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, second son of the king, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces and no friend of Wellington’s. Below that was the distinctively illegible scrawl of Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister.

    “It’s too much to hope for that this Madison fellow won’t have news of Boney’s return,” he said, “or that he won’t have realized the implications.”

    He sighed. He couldn’t just pull his army out, the Americans would wait until he was well away from their shores, and then raise new armies and attack Louisiana, Florida and the Canadas. He needed a peace treaty, and so far there had been no sign of one.

    Time to make one, then. He pulled out a map of North America that had no strategically valuable information on it and drew a couple of lines. This was going to require some very quick and dirty negotiation.

    * * *

    Wellington had to give Brown credit — the man looked Morriset in the eye and didn’t even flinch. The pleasantries, such as they were, were quickly gotten out of the way.

    “You did your level best to dislodge us today,” said Wellington. “You failed. Your army is still intact, but not in position to defend anything beyond itself.”

    “You’ll find we have not yet begun to fight,” replied Brown. Wellington knew he was quoting some American ship captain or other, but didn’t care.

    “You haven’t? Well, why the devil not? My army is at the gates of Boston! Whatever Homeric feats of arms you have in store for us, you’d better perform them now!”

    There was a long, drawn-out moment of silence.

    “That’s what I thought,” said Wellington. “Enough of this posturing. How long does it take to get a message to your capital from here?”

    “About ten days.”

    “And who exactly is responsible for ratifying peace treaties in your mare’s nest of a government?”

    “The President, with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

    “Is your Senate in session?” Please tell me yes, he thought. I’m going to be delayed enough as it is.

    “Indeed it is. Congress reconvened in special session last month specifically as a response to your invasion.”

    “I bask in the glow of their attention. Tell them this from me.” He handed Brown the map. “If you want peace, this is what it looks like.”

    Brown looked at the map. “You’re claiming Louisiana south of the 31st parallel and Florida east of the Chattahoochee?”

    “Yes. I am willing to hold a cease-fire for one month, but if I do not have in my hands a treaty acceding to all said demands on or before the twenty-sixth of June, Cochrane and I will resume the attack and we will not stop until we have taken Boston by force.” He took a breath. This was the part he wasn’t going to boast of later. “Tell them we will then raze the city, leaving not one stone upon another… and that neither he nor I can make any promises at all regarding the conduct of the soldiers and marines under our command toward the civilian population.” If he had burst into a recitation of the second Harfleur speech from Henry V, the point would have been clearer, but not much.

    “Cochrane well nigh did that to Portland and Portsmouth already,” said Brown. “I thought your soldiers were more civilized than that.”

    “Well, you were wrong. My soldiers are the scum of the earth. Unfortunately for you, they’re better at their trade than yours.” (Personally, he detested rape and pillage. He hated anything that infected his army with disorder, making it less like an army and more like a well-armed mob. But it was better to let the Yankees believe the worst of him than let them try to pry apart him and Cochrane.)

    “Cochrane and I will maintain the blockade,” Wellington continued. “We will allow food into the city, but no weapons or ammunition. Whatever else happens, no one will starve.”

    “So you are holding thirty-five thousand people hostage.”

    “Is that how many there are?”

    Brown nodded. “I’ll send the message on its way.”

    “One more thing,” said Wellington. Days like this were the reason he had no plans to ever write his memoirs.

    “I’m well aware that this is your country, and that given time you can assemble an army large enough to overwhelm me by force of numbers if nothing else. Therefore, if I even suspect that you’re using this delay to reinforce yourself, I will resume the battle at once.”

    “Now, that is unreasonable.”

    “Why, so it is. Do you know what else is unreasonable? War. Yet here we are.”

    “More American regiments are already on their way here.”

    “Then you’d better deploy them where I never find out about them,” said Wellington. “If you think you can outfox me in this, you’re welcome to try — but remember how many lives hang on your judgment.” He hated making these threats. He still had nightmares sometimes about Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo. But he saw no other way to end this war without letting the British position on this continent collapse.

    God, he thought, please let these people see reason.
     
  10. John Fredrick Parker Donor

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    Though I see you have already planned otherwise, I could see one way for the US to still get control of the Mississippi at this point in the TL -- if Madison has already gotten word of Napoleon's return, he may well decide to call Wellington's bluff.

    I can see a southern delegate (maybe Calhoun) going to meet the general and straight up daring him to burn Boston..
     
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  11. Free Lancer Banned

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    Just found this TL and I have to say I’m very impressed how you managed not to make this a American Screw TL like every other war of 1812 I have seen. How far are you going to go with this TL?

    If the British in America have received the new that napoleon is back so should the Americans as well, unless I’m wrong the knowledge that the Americans can hold Britons Arms down while Napoleon goes for their throat should give them a more better position on the negotiating table
     
  12. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

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    Glad you like it. I'm taking it at least as far as 1860, longer if I can figure out what happens after the various wars and revolutions of the '50s.

    Right now, Madison knows Napoleon is back, but he also knows that Prussia, Austria, Russia, Spain and various minor powers have all joined in the alliance to bring him down. What he doesn't know is how badly the British government wants to be seen fighting Napoleon after the Elba fiasco.
     
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  13. Free Lancer Banned

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    Good to know it will be interesting to see how everything will have changed

    Even with all of Europe united against Napoleon it still took many years for them to bring him down, I would imagine that all of Britain will be screaming bloody murder for the government to focus on the giant right next door instead of the one across the vast sea.

    So I believe Madison’s choice will come down to a leap of faith, to continue the war with all the reassuring maybes or agree to the demands,

    Personally I think that Madison will take the leap, America had formed into what she was at that point because of leaps of faith like that.
    what ever happens next wil be good
     
  14. stevep Member

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    Lycaon pictus

    Good battle description but I rather think you gilded the lily a bit. How big was Brown's army that he had 10k cavalry? Especially when their trying to charge up two streets, which at this time period would probably be pretty narrow compared to modern standards. Also 5k Congreves sounds rather a lot given how big the things often were. Even if only about 10% actually stayed on course in such a narrow front you would possibly struggle to find any survivors. [Especially since you mentioned Brown's force was only ~10k regulars and the total population of Boston as 35k that many cavalry seems way too high.]

    Wellington might try to bluff like he did, although I suspect more likely it would be seeking to get Brown to surrender and have Boston as an hostage. Given that it sounds like Brown's forces have been very badly mauled and that he would also know what happened when a town was taken by storm, possibly a brief reference by Wellington to not wanting a repeat of Badajoz;) I suspect that Brown wouldn't be the pillock that Jackson was. Also that avoids the problem of waiting while the Americans recover and mobilise more men.

    It might make the US government more willing to agree to terms quickly. Also if he informed the US that he has been instructed to do "whatever may be needful to settle affairs in North America" that could be taken two ways and may make the US government less certain that they can wait him out.

    As it is just checked a map and he seems to have been very generous to the US as he's only claiming a very small area for the Louisiana republic, only about half the OTL state. That makes me wonder if he should ask for more even if only to give some negotiating room. Although this could more easily given as a take it or leave it position.

    I'm presuming that the northern borders are going to be unchanged.

    With the small republic I can't see a lot of room for the displaced Chickasaw. Given the probable lasting hostility of the Americans to the Louisianans I can also see a radically different Tejas in TTL. They might be a much better source of settlers for the region than the Americans and less likely to rebel. If they do I think they will be highly unlikely to want to join the US.

    It's the south that has really suffered in TTL as it's lost the bulk of two states and settlement in the area may be delayed more than the north. Therefore I would say that if there's going to be a civil war with slavery as the trigger for a succession bid they will have to go a lot earlier. Plus with a Louisiana that if still closely linked with Britain is probably anti-slavery, they are going to be screwed economically.

    Steve
     
  15. stevep Member

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    Free Lancer

    That might be very bad for the US. This is 1815 remember and Napoleon is already on very short supplies in terms of available men. Even if with a weaker 'British' force without Wellington's leadership he wins an TTL Waterloo campaign he's still likely to be stomped pretty damned quickly.

    Furthermore Wellington is already pretty mad and has made a generous offer. [More generous than I think he could have and given he has also avoided finishing off Boston, which would have been more logical]. If they try playing hard-ball now they could find that they have a very angry opponent and that the next two things they hear from Europe are:
    a) Napoleon has been defeated
    b) Britain is extremely piss-off that the US rejected generous terms and have decided.

    Frankly I think Lycaon has made the republic far too small and that the Americans are likely to recognise this. It can easily be surrounded and then will be economically and militarily defenceless. It really needed to be at least the size of OTL Louisiana to have a practical independent future.

    Another factor if the US continues the war is that New England might grow more unhappy with Washington again, despite Cochrane's behaviour. Since it is rejecting peace and the ending of the war that is being waged on their territory, including presumably ending Sherbrooke's claim, all for a couple of pieces of territory that the south wants.

    Steve


     
  16. Free Lancer Banned

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    True we know that know but in 1815 the British did not know the true extent of napoleons weakness at that point, I do believe that Britain’s hierarchy will be more fearful about napoleon then the Americans at that moment.

    Wellington has made a generous offer, but you forget the entire reason the war happened in the first place was because of insults to the US by Britain, so even if Madison agrees to the terms I really doubt the southern dominated congress will agree so easily.

    Now wellington is in a dangerous position his next move can lead to horrible consequences for him and his goals, he can probably take Boston but it will most likely become a blood bath for either both him and the Americans or just the Americans either way once that news gets out I would imagine that new England will not be pleased with Britain.

    And like you said that if they accept the terms then they will be economically and militarily defenseless so I believe that some concessions will have to be made to the US the only things I can think of are either lowering the demands for the Louisiana territory or getting some kind of deal for New Orleans.

    But will admit I’m no expert on the war of 1812 this is all coming from my observations and speculation.
     
  17. Free Lancer Banned

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    I have a question one of the reasons why England was willing to end the fighting between her and the US is because she came under heavy Russian pressure to do so, how has this changed?
     
  18. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    One upcoming development might be this TL's equivalent of Waterloo.

    A similar battle, except for the British contingent being reduced in size and under another(lesser?) commander, could result in a victory for Napoleon.

    If the next news to arrive includes the collapse of Holland's territory south of the Rhine, Walloons rallying to Napoleon's side, 30-40 thousand British dead or captive and Prussia effectively out of the war...:eek:


    Just checked and OTL Waterloo took place barely three weeks after the latest update. By the time a settlement or a renewal of hostilities has taken place there may be a ship on the way with news...
     
  19. Art Well-Known Member

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    I do not see the point of this TL. . .

    Britain setting themselves up to be ruined. . . Because unless they think they can take back America, then eventually they will make America a permanent enemy. In OTL Britain kept out of fighting the United States, but if they keep New Orleans, then war is inevitable, and NO WAY will Britain win. As for taking Maine, or Florida. . . nothing but stupid hubris. They are setting themselves up for a terrible fall.
     
  20. stevep Member

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    Very true, which is why Wellington's urgently trying to bring the war to a end having just got the news.

    No, actually the key POD is Jackson being a dick-head, and the Americans following the same path. If he hadn't been so stupid then New Orleans would have been returned. That's been made clear. It was just the desire of the US for a bloody massacre out of spite because they were defeated that made Keane take a moral stand and the weakness of the US leadership meant it spiralled out of control from there. That's the thing that set the two on a collision path.

    I fully agree that Sherbrook was a pillock and out of line and very surprised that this happened OTL. However it's chiefly the mess in the south that means we're got this unnecessary war.

    Very true. Events in Europe have left him in a very difficult position. As I said in an earlier post I think he would be better off having insisted on Boston's surrender, which would have given more security against the Americans fighting on and bring things to a quick end. That would probably have avoided a possible later battle, which might also led to a bloody sack. As you say there is an acute danger that relations between the two nations are going to be rocky for some time.

    I think you have failed to actually read what has been said. The suggested republic is vulnerable because it is so small! It could easily be surrounded by American expansion because they would have formal claim to the neighbouring lands and could drive out anyone else. If it was markedly bigger then it would actually be more defensible.

    Some sort of deal for New Orleans would be the best bet. However the main deal the people want is 'don't slaughter us' and that's one the US government and locals are unwilling to give. [From a previous chapter the President might be willing to offer pardons after a trial but, even supposing that anyone 'arrested' survived to make it to trial the Louisianan don't know that. All they see is a determination to seize a lot of their citizens and dragging them off to a kangaroo court simply because they stopped a lunatic burning down their city.

    I think none of us are experts on the conflict.;)

    I haven't heard this. Where did you get that from? I rather doubt that the Czar would be interested in a far away low level conflict, other than possibly glad it was distracting a major rival. [At least until the ogre got out again;)].

    If there was lasting enmity it would be a problem for Britain and a very serious one for the US.

    Presuming that the Napoleon problem is settled fairly soon there is no way the US can take New Orleans if Britain wants to stop it. They have the support of the locals, not just the French, but also the Indians who will not want hordes of settlers stealing their lands. Even more importantly they control the seas, which means they can reinforce it much easier than the US can send invading forces down there. Also it means they can totally screw the US economy. Furthermore Britain is so much more powerful than the US at this time, in just about every way that it's a no contest if it comes to a big war.

    Florida could probably also be held in the near term at least. [With one little trick it could be a really serious thorn in the US's side]. However not sure what Britain is doing there as OTL it was Spanish held until the Americans seized it. I suspect Britain seems to have picked it up from Spain at the 1814 peace treaty in TTL but I'm not certain. Have asked
    Lycaon before but can't remember seeing an answer.

    I don't think there is any aim to take land in the NE, although holding land in the NW would still be quite possible in a longer war as the US has only the barest military presence there. However the point is that Britain doesn't want this war. A couple of pieces of stupidity [Jackson and Sherbrooke] a moral stance [Keane] and a moral/intelligence failure [US President] are what has caused this mess. I think Wellington is only trying to protect New Orleans because Keane has committed British honour to defending them. Don't know why Florida unless as I say Britain has received it from Spain?

    Steve