Quids Pro Quo? (4)
Abolitionists in the Free states are really unimpressed with British abolitionists for not trying to abolish slavery in Louisiana. Their attitude is, "Stop pretending that's an independent nation and just tell them what to do." New Spain is fairly cordial toward Louisiana, and since they're not formally independent themselves they have no room to talk about Louisiana's situation, but they aren't so cordial as to return runaway slaves. Hacking their way into the Selva Conchate to catch people who don't want to be caught is not something they'd do even for a friend. One or two slaves from Louisiana have stowed away on boats and managed to go undiscovered until they reach the free states and help from abolitionists, but for the most part, Louisiana and the U.S. return each others' runaway slaves. That's why escapees from Louisiana usually don't go due north, but west and northwest into the toughest forest north of the tropics.Thank you for the answer. Fascinating to see how this strange state is developing as its own nation and how it affects its neighbors in the States.
How do the Free states regard it these days? Or New Spain for that matter?
Is there a drive to further assert independence from the British Empire or is there a pervasive feeling that what they have got is the best they can get for the foreseeable future?
Do they have an official policy regarding slaves that escape from the USA and end up in the Republic; or vice versa?
There are Louisianans who seek to assert independence from Britain, but more in the sense of cultural independence. There's still that sense of being caught between the Yankee devil and the master of the deep blue sea.
September 26, 1836
Spain’s ambassador to the Court of St. James was Francisco Javier de Istúriz y Montero. Palmerston suspected the man could easily perform the duties of a higher office, and knew it, but he was a little too liberal in his politics to be trusted by the king of Spain.
“The fighting at sea has been inconclusive,” said the ambassador. “In January we won a victory in Iligan Bay, but we could not follow it up because we were too busy putting paid to the garays that came to prey on wounded ships from both sides. And that has been the story of the war—our navies must form such large convoys for fear of each other that neither side can fight piracy… which according to the Dutch was the point of the war in the first place.
“When we last heard from Luzon, we held the city of Manila itself, the peninsula of Bataan to the west, and the whole Bicol Peninsula here in the southeast. The rest of the island was… contested. On Mindanao, the Dutch had taken Zamboanga—here in the west—and Sultan Iskander of Maguindanao, here, had betrayed us and allied with the Dutch.” Odds were, the ambassador was trying to cultivate a reputation for honesty here, since everything he was saying could be confirmed by the Foreign Office.
“Did the sultan offer any reason for this betrayal?”
“He said it was ‘in solidarity with the faithful of Morocco.’ I doubt he cares very much about the faithful on the other side of the world. More likely Amsterdam offered him a better deal.”
Or a more convincing threat, thought Palmerston. It seemed likely to him that the Dutch were going to win this war, simply because they were slightly less strapped for cash than the Spaniards. Their only problem had been a shortage of manpower, and they’d solved that by recruiting mercenaries from West Africa. And this Iskander would not want his sultanate to go the way of Sulu if Spain could not offer protection.
“I realize, Minister, that it is a matter of some indifference to you who controls Mindanao. But consider that if, God forbid, this so-called ‘Republic of Luzon’ were to make good its independence, it might become a haven for pirates. French commerce, your own opium trade—they’d have their choice of targets. It might even become a French ally… or at least another welcome port for them.”
Palmerston gave a little nod that was carefully calibrated to convey understanding of the point without any implicit promise. The great goal of British policy in Europe was to allow no one power, and especially not France, to dominate the continent. By rights, that should also have been the goal of Spain and the Netherlands, both of which (unlike Britain) had to fear invasion and occupation by France, having suffered it in the last war. And yet they were at war with each other over territory neither of them fully controlled.
No matter. We can still repair the situation… just so long as nothing else goes wrong.
A popular witticism among historians, applied to the Russian invasion of eastern Thrace in 1836, is that it represented “a failure of intelligence in both senses of the term.” It was, but not the way most people think. The Tsar had spies among the Greek and Slavic population of Bosnia-Rumelia, which kept him appraised of both military activity and the general mood of the population—or at least the Orthodox parts of it. They knew that Sultan Husein had seized the country by sneak attack and could appeal to no authority beyond his own loyal soldiers. They knew he had built modern fortifications outside Constantinople, to prevent anyone from doing to him what he had done to the Ottomans. They also knew that as of early 1836, he had not once left the city since capturing it. It must have seemed a reasonable inference that, holding such a strong position in a potentially rebellious country, he dared not set foot outside it lest some ambitious subordinate take control of it behind his back.
Thus, with a single blow—the amphibious landing of an army of 30,000 under the command of General Valerian Madatov on the eastern coast of Thrace—Russia could bisect the peninsula on which Constantinople stood and cut Husein off from the rest of Bosnia-Rumelia. Even if Serbia was too preoccupied by civil war to invade, Greece surely would, and Greeks and Slavs throughout the little empire would rise against it. Russia would support these rebels with arms and soldiers.
Britain would oppose this, of course, as would France and Italy. Any prolonged war would surely drag them in, eager to prevent Russia from becoming a naval force in the Mediterranean. That was why the plan was to invade in September. Over the course of the next few months, the Lodos winds would complicate efforts to sail large ships up the narrow, bending throat of the Dardanelles. France and Italy had many ships that could furl their sails and steam through, but the Tsar did not believe the British would allow them to take point in such an important naval mission. This would delay any naval intervention in the Black Sea until spring.
And by then, it would be too late. The “Gradascevician Empire” would have gone the way of its glorious predecessor, its authority collapsed and incapable of being restored. The only way for authority to emerge again would be in a form pleasing to the Tsar, who explained his ideas for such a form in conversations with his foreign minister. Bulgaria would be a kingdom under some Russian prince (perhaps Madatov himself), providing Russia with a landward link to the expanded and grateful nations of Serbia and Greece. Constantinople and the peninsula of Gallipoli would be Russian-ruled exclaves, giving them access to the Mediterranean. As for the Powers, what could they do in the face of this fait accompli but shake their fists eastward in impotent fury?
That was the plan. And while there was an intelligence failure involved, it was not a failure of either information or military acumen; it was a structural failure. The information gathered by the Tsar’s spies passed through the Foreign Office in Moscow, where it was brought to the attention of the Tsar, who in turn shared it with the army. Given that there were few railroads and no telegraphs in this part of the world, this meant that the army would be acting on information that was months out of date. Even as Madatov was preparing to land at Karaburun, the Tsar was receiving the news that would throw all his plans into derangement.
Sultan Husein was not in Constantinople. He had left the city in early August with his family, his harem, and the bulk of his army, and was currently in the mountain town of Dereköy. Although his loyalists still held the capital, the truth was that the Queen of Cities was under the occupation of a far more merciless enemy than Madatov—cholera. Husein was able to quickly rally his forces and pin Madatov against the Constantinople defenses.
Despite this, Madatov succeeded in his planned mission of occupying a stretch of the peninsula from Karaburun to Büyükçekmece on the Sea of Marmara. But he could not take the city, and now he was surrounded by Husein’s forces on both sides. His own health was failing, although it is unclear whether this was the result of cholera or a pre-existing illness. By spring, the Russian field force would need a new commander, and (in the manner of most pre-modern armies) would be losing more soldiers to disease than to enemy fire.
To make matters worse, those same Lodos winds got an early start this year. The landing was planned for September 27, but poor wind conditions delayed it for a day, allowing Bosnia-Rumelia’s Black Sea fleet (such as it was) to escape and launch irregular attacks on the ships Russia sent to supply their forces.
Meanwhile, this unprovoked attack on what was technically an independent state was having the expected effect in the diplomatic world. Egypt was first, of course, but France, Italy, and the United Kingdom had all independently declared war on Russia before the year was out. What was intended as a lightning-fast decapitation was already on its way to becoming the largest European conflict since the Second Thirty Years’ War…
Robert W. Derek, Great Blunders of World History
 Locally-built Filipino warships, often used by pirates.
 A small sultanate on the west coast of Mindanao.
 The Dutch did this IOTL as well.
 Turkish names should be considered as transliterated from TTL’s romanization system, which I haven’t invented. The same goes for names in Pinyin.
 IOTL, Madatov died of lung disease in 1829.