The Dead Skunk

I wonder if the British will raise regiments from the freed slaves in the Carribean in order to defend Florida?

I expect the colonial government in Florida will be swamped with volunteers from the locals. While British Florida is certainly no racial paradise, each group of 'color' has a lot to loose if the Americans conquer south to say the least. With Berrien in charge, who is not only proslavery but also been trying to expel the Cherokee for years, they have even more reason to be wary.

Its been mentioned the Georgia militia has already fought some skirmishes on the border with Florida; likely already setting off alarm bells across the colony of impending invasion.
 
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I expect the colonial government on Florida will be swamped with volunteers from the locals. While British Florida is certainly no racial paradise, each group of 'color' has a lot to loose if the Americans conquer south to say the least. With Berrien in charge, who is not only proslavery but also been trying to expel the Cherokee for years, they have even more reason to be wary.

Its been mentioned the Georgia militia has already fought some skirmishes on the border with Florida; likely already seding off alarm bells across the colony of impending invasion.
Yeah. I wonder what the US would do to the Asians in the area? They might be more worried about being expelled than enslaved or genocided like the Africans and Natives are.
 
Winter Storm (4)
The U.S. Congress’ April 19 declaration of war had been against the United Kingdom and its empire, not against the Republic of Louisiana. If anyone in the Hôtel de la République took the slightest reassurance from this, there is no record of it. On the orders of President Berrien, Ambassador Fish had departed at the end of March, saying that he had been recalled. No one had come to replace him by the time New Orleans received word of the declaration. Everyone knew what this meant.

On May 15, Roman addressed the Assembly and the crowded atrium from the President’s Lectern. His speech was short, but to the point:

Citizens of Louisiana, we must prepare for war. As I speak, the nation whose treachery forfeited our loyalty is preparing to reclaim us by force. Our friends are strong, but our foes are near. To hold on until our friends arrive will require all our strength.

Roman announced that he was ordering the Grand Army of the Republic to begin a levée en masse, conscripting all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 18 and 25. He was authorizing War Minister Keane to purchase small arms and artillery sufficient for this expansion, and (despite his distaste for increasing the debt) Treasury Minister Disraeli to secure a loan from the Royal Bank to cover the expenses. While this was necessary in order to cover such a rapid expansion of the armed forces, it had the effect of binding Louisiana ever tighter to London before a single shot was fired.

The first priority of the Grand Army would be to bring the garrisons in all forts bordering U.S. territory up to full strength. On Keane’s advice, the isolated Fort-Labatut and the punishment assignment Fort-Douane were exempted from this order; instead, the warship Volonté de la République was ordered to take up a position in the river alongside Fort-Douane…


The United States had multiple commitments in 1837—the war in the Canadas, the planned attack on Florida and the need to maintain large reserves of troops against a British invasion. Even if they had not, it was too late to plan and launch an invasion of Louisiana before the end of spring, and summer was the worst possible season for such an enterprise. Roman and Keane knew they had at least until the beginning of fall before the invasion began, and their spies in Mississippi were able to track the progress of American preparations. By the time the war came to Louisiana, the Grand Army would be ready and at full strength. But this was little comfort, since that full strength would constitute at most 15,000 men—half the size of the peacetime U.S. Army, to say nothing of the army Berrien was assembling for war.

Under the circumstances, no one willing to fight could be turned aside. The métis would be fighting once again, this time alongside their fallen foes the Ichacq, who would earn citizenship by their service. After Sinepuxent, Roman presented a bill to the Assembly abolishing the already threadbare “three-fourths white” requirement for military service and expanding conscription to free Negroes.

This was the most controversial measure Roman had ever put forward. Conservatives were almost universally opposed to it, while Radicals were divided but not prepared either to accept or reject it. The debate raged for two months…

Michel Beauregard, A History of the Republic of Louisiana


June 3, 1837
No. 10 Downing Street

Well, I did ask for this job, thought Brougham as he listened to Palmerston, trying to block out the distracting noise of the men building the telegraph office in back. Obviously I couldn’t have known there would be wars going on in the Balkans and North America both

Instead of cutting his losses in Bosnia-Rumelia, Alexander had decided to double down. Now the tsar was claiming that the chunk of Danube delta Wallachia had seized six years ago, which had given the Südzollverein access to the Black Sea and which no one had complained about at the time, was “rightful Moldavian territory” which King Carol of Wallachia needed to hand over to King Carol of Moldavia this instant. At last report, he had declared war on Wallachia and (by extension) on Austria. This never would have happened if it hadn’t been for that damned silly war over an island that sank into the ocean before the ink was dry on the treaty. Now the tsar thinks Austria is weak.

And Palmerston had just informed him that as of the latest he’d heard from Athens, King Paul’s son-in-law, Ioannis Kolokotronis, had politely knocked the door of his palace and requested that he declare war on Bosnia-Rumelia. Since Kolokotronis had been backed up by his own family retainers and many senior officers of the Greek army, the hapless king had agreed. Which puts us at war with Greece. Not that we tremble in fear of their arms, but just how much blood must we shed—our own and others’—in defence of that parody of an empire?

Then there was the rebellion in the Canadas. That had been a ghastly surprise out of nowhere. Things had seemed so peaceful under Prince Edward. Auckland had seemed certain that all was quiet. What the devil had been going on over there that everyone in London had missed? And what was going on now? It sounded as though the mostly-English rebels in York had accepted American help with open arms and the mostly-French rebels in Montreal had rebuffed them. Which went against what Auckland wrote that he was hearing from everyone around him.

Brougham hated knowing so little and not being sure of what or whom to trust. The smartest man in the world—and he was sure he was at least in the top ten—could not make a good decision with bad information. We must learn more. Perhaps I should put our friend Radical Jack[1] on the case.

And, of course, the United States had declared war again. Damned Yankee Doodles, once again causing trouble while we’re in the middle of a major war. Well, much joy they got of it last time.

The latest news was unsurprising, but unpleasant. “Goderich and Duncannon[2] agree that HMS St. Lawrence was always a doomed ship,” said Palmerston.

Brougham nodded, gazing at the map on his desk. His finger traced the irregular outline of the peninsula of land between Lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Had we but guns enough and men, this could have been a stronghold of the Empire. With it we might have dictated terms to the Yankees no matter how they grew, having the very heart of their nation within striking distance.

It’s not as though we never made plans. Year after year for two damned decades, through the Liverpool and Wellington and Grey and—Hell, I must acknowledge it—my own term in office, we said to ourselves, “We should build more bases in Upper Canada. We should build fleets on the Great Lakes.” It was always something we meant to do, something we were going to do, but we never did get round to finding the money.

And now it’s too late. One cannot hold a peninsula against an enemy that rules the waters. We’ll soon lose it, and the only way to get it back will be to seize something of equal value and trade it at the negotiating table.


Which should be possible, as by all accounts, Berrien wasn’t even interested in the Canadas. What he really wanted was Louisiana back, and Florida and Texas to go with it. Louisiana would fight to retain its independence, Texas would mean war with Spain as well as Britain—and as for Florida, Brougham was having a hard time keeping from grinning at the prospect of that fight. Then it would be the Americans trying to hold a peninsula in the face of a power that could land troops where it chose. Of course, this wouldn’t happen right away—not even this clodhopper Berrien could be fool enough to invade Gulf Coast territories in the summer, and Brougham meant to have reinforcements there no later than September. It was true that piling one war on another would stretch the British army thin, but since they were already recruiting, they could have forces in the field much sooner than they would otherwise have been able to.

“In your opinion, sir,” said Palmerston, “what are our aims in this war? It seems to me we should expect a little more than the status quo ante bellum.”

“I quite agree.”

“Alas, France and Italy do not. Gérard and Manzoni[3] both insist that their alliance with the United States is defensive in nature, and as President Berrien is the aggressor—they’re both quite careful to say ‘Berrien,’ not ‘the United States’—they will therefore not be joining the war effort. However, they say they wish to be present at the peace negotiations and will go to war to prevent any further significant loss of American territory.”

“How do they define ‘significant’ loss?”

“They implied that the loss of a state or territory, such as the United States suffered in ’15, would be unacceptable. It may be only a bluff, but we are in a state of alliance with them in Bosnia-Rumelia. If they wish to harm us, they need only make a deal with Russia and Greece and bring the troops home.”

Brougham nodded. France and Italy had in fact done more than their share, sending steam-frigates with furled sails through the Dardanelles and the Bosporos during the winter to harass Russian shipping.

“And unlike in ’15, there isn’t another American state conveniently ready to secede and accept our protection,” said Brougham. “Most of all, I want to know what went wrong in the Canadas—especially Upper Canada—before I consider adding a restive province to our empire.” Palmerston looked worried. Never fear. There are other ways to punish our rude cousins.

“Make no mistake, Henry[4]—if I think it the best course, I absolutely will carve a chunk from their flank and damn the consequences. But do you know what I really want from the Americans?

“Money. Indemnity. It would be fitting, would it not? How much of our financiers’ money did they use to build those wretched canals of theirs?” A little ditty from the Literary Gazette ran through his mind:

Yankee Doodle borrows cash,
Yankee Doodle spends it,
And then he snaps his fingers at
The jolly flat who lends it.
Ask him when he means to pay,
He shews no hesitation,
But says he’ll take the shortest way,
And that’s repudiation!
[5]

Since the war began, of course, the federal government and the states that hadn’t yet defaulted were “suspending” payments to British interests “for the duration.” No one was optimistic about those payments unsuspending after the war was over.

“And how much of their money comes from cotton and tobacco grown by slaves and purchased by us? Some would call it a greater sin to engage in honest trade with them than to take their wealth by force.”

“I think you’re right,” said Palmerston. “Assuming, of course, that they have any gold in their treasury to give after this war.”

“If they don’t, then I think the Royal Navy could use some new basing rights. In the South, if possible, to drive the point home. Charleston, Savannah, Mobile… while they’re paddling about on their little canals, let them remember who the seas belong to. Speaking of which, I have an idea to run past Goderich and Duncannon…” Brougham pulled out another map, this one of North America itself. He pointed at a spot on the northwest coast.

“With all due respect, that seems a little far afield of our concerns,” said Palmerston.

“Our concerns, yes,” said Brougham. “Astoria is little to us and everything to them. The mouth of the Columbia River here is their one and only outlet on the Pacific Ocean. Should we seize this—Fort Clatsop?—they will respond in one of three ways. They will commit an army to its liberation, with the immense logistical support required to send such an army across half a continent’s worth of wilderness and have it in shape to fight at the end. If they are feeling particularly foolish, they will attempt the same thing with their navy. Or—they will sue for peace and pay what they must to get it back. Any of these would please me greatly. And we can do this with one regiment.”


[1] John George Lambton, Earl of Durham, Lord Privy Seal to both Grey and Brougham.
[2] In early 1835, Graham resigned from the government over the restructuring of the Church of Ireland. John William Ponsonby, 4th Earl of Bessborough and Viscount Duncannon, is his replacement as First Lord of the Admiralty.
[3] Alessandro Manzoni, Italy’s foreign minister.
[4] Once again a PM and his foreign minister have the same first name. Sorry.
[5] IOTL, this poem appeared in the London Literary Gazette in January 1845.
 
“Astoria is little to us and everything to them. The mouth of the Columbia River here is their one and only outlet on the Pacific Ocean. Should we seize this—Fort Clatsop?—they will respond in one of three ways. They will commit an army to its liberation, with the immense logistical support required to send such an army across half a continent’s worth of wilderness and have it in shape to fight at the end. If they are feeling particularly foolish, they will attempt the same thing with their navy. Or—they will sue for peace and pay what they must to get it back. Any of these would please me greatly. And we can do this with one regiment.”
I'd say Berrien wouldn't be that stupid to attempt such a far flung expedition to an underpopulated and poorly connected Oregon, but given how much he's cocked up already it would be a miracle if he had the sensibility not to.
 
While this was necessary in order to cover such a rapid expansion of the armed forces, it had the effect of binding Louisiana ever tighter to London before a single shot was fired.
After Sinepuxent, Roman presented a bill to the Assembly abolishing the already threadbare “three-fourths white” requirement for military service and expanding conscription to free Negroes.
So Berrien has convinced Louisiana to cleave tighter to Britain, and begin discussing arming black men.

Are we sure he's on America's side?
 
New Orleans is taking things seriously, good. Time for Keane to remind the Americans to fear him. Where does the old major general stand on the issue of arming the Freedmen?

Speaking of which I am not that confident the arming will happen this war. The Conservatives have come down against it and the Radicals split. unless Louisianan gets seriously invaded I could see the issue shouted down. But even in defeat the cause of liberty will be advanced. The split of the Radicals will likely see the start of abolitionists politics in the Republic, even if it means the two party system breaking down for now in favor of the Conservatives. The American threat isn't going away and many will see this issue coming again next war and give addressing the slave question new urgency alongside the Freedmen.

Also, the loan and military expansion will tie New Orleans closer to London, who will be keen to support a growing abolitionist movement and even a Conservative dominated government won't be able to do anything about that. So even if its just a small start for abolitionism Britain will be well situated to feed that growing flame.

Brougham certainly is a humble one isn't he? Still he is asking the right questions with Canada, and seizing Astoria is a good plan to get Niagara back at the peace table. As they aren't going to hold Astoria and the not participating allies would likely object to carving up much from existing states my guess is that Britain will mostly take off the top of the Unorganized Territory.

And it looks like we have months until the Southern theater opens with Berriens real targets opened. What will Berrien due in the meanwhile with the Canadian invasion?

Very interesting for France to frame this as Berrien's war rather than the USA's. Hoping to present themselves a opponents of the Quids and not the nation as a whole in anticpation of the Dead Roses returning to power?
 
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I mean, people are saying that Berrien isn't stupid enough to launch a campaign in the summer, but does he know that? He does have experience in the region and will probably believe that surprise and speed will win the day. It's the main priority for him after all, securing slavery above all else. Just what is he willing to risk and sacrifice in order to keep it going?
 
It seems that our good friend Berrien will also go to war with Spain. I wonder how much territory the Spanish will gain when they slap the US with the help of the British.
 
I mean, people are saying that Berrien isn't stupid enough to launch a campaign in the summer, but does he know that? He does have experience in the region and will probably believe that surprise and speed will win the day. It's the main priority for him after all, securing slavery above all else. Just what is he willing to risk and sacrifice in order to keep it going?

If he were to launch such an attack I think it would have to be Louisiana. The Mississippi would allow relatively quick and supported deployment from deeper within American territory. Heck the river leads right to the capital.

But one would expect the river to be well defended for that very reason.

Hmm, for Berrien to try such a thing he'd likely have to believe the Republic is fragile with the locals willing to flip loyalties rather than support the "British domination". Probably with a lenient peace deal in mind with a goal to quickly integrate the former republic rather than being punitive.

Still that requires him taking such a gamble when many will be against it, and not something that will happen quick.

Still such a breakthrough or 'sudden' attack may panic peopel into supporting the conscription reform.
 
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Do the British have plans to try and provoke an uprising by slaves in the Southern USA?

Does Austin in Astoria have any ajor ties with the Quids or other parties? or is he his own thing politically?
 
Do the British have plans to try and provoke an uprising by slaves in the Southern USA?

Does Austin in Astoria have any ajor ties with the Quids or other parties? or is he his own thing politically?
If an uprising happened, they'd make the most of it, but they don't plan on starting one. (The younger Henry Brougham of the Caroline affair would have done it and not cared what the Louisianans thought. The almost-60-year-old PM Baron Brougham and Vaux is a little more cautious.) By now the slave spy network headquartered in Trafalgar stretches into Baltimore and St. Louis, and the British will be exploiting it for intelligence and quiet sabotage. The Army and Navy know this, which is why they try to keep slaves away from anything important. This will be yet another point of contention between President Berrien and the DRP-dominated institutions he is in charge of.

Speaking of parties, Austin was a loyal Dead Rose up until Savannah—they seemed to him like the party more focused on growing the nation. Although his views are well outside the mainstream, he hasn't broken with the party yet.
 
Winter Storm (5)
Is William S. Harney gonna be involved at any point?
Now this is a crazy coincidence…

June 7, 1837
along the Rideau Canal, Upper Canada

In consideration of the unique value of these dispatches, and the hardship and danger required to produce them, I formally request an increase in salary of not less than…

“Saddle up, everyone! We don’t stop until we reach Bytown[1]!”

Edgar Allen Poe reluctantly put down the letter he planned on sending with the next dispatch. When he was in the Army, Poe had thought that he would never find a job less suited to his talents. Now that he was… not back in the Army—with the Army but not of the Army—he realized he hadn’t known how good he’d had it.

For one thing, he’d had a comfortable office around him then. Whatever the clerical work he’d been tasked with had done to his poetic soul, it hadn’t bounced his unpoetic backside repeatedly against the saddle of a still less poetic horse for hours on end.

It had been a different matter when he’d arrived in the city now calling itself Toronto. He duly wrote his report to the Baltimore Ledger that the Stars and Stripes flew over the city; that the city was still wracked by pro- and anti-American protests which sometimes turned into riots; that the new government was hopeful of admission to the United States, but couldn’t agree on whether they wanted to be known as the State of Ontario, Erie, or Huron; that General Armistead’s forces had swooped out of Sackett’s Harbor across the river, crossed the Rideau Canal and taken Kingston, the last British holdout on the lake; and that there were still British garrisons in Upper Canada, but that they were scattered and had nowhere to rally. He’d even written an ode to the chill gray waters of Lake Ontario on the way over, which he was very pleased with and had sent to New York News & Literature. Perhaps they would accept it. Every little bit of money helped.

And then he’d gotten the word that Governor Talbot and the soldiers beseiging Toronto had retreated. Col. Harney, who was in charge of U.S. forces in Toronto, had said something along the lines of “Damned if I’m going to be sitting here nursemaiding this town when there’s fighting to be done!” and gone rushing out in pursuit. He’d stopped only long enough to visit Poe and say, “Mister Newspaper Man, if you want a real story, come with me!”

That had been a week ago—a week of what felt to Poe like hard riding, northeast through Peterborough and Perth. Every minute of it, Poe had worried. As far as he could tell, Harney’s forces and Talbot’s were more or less equally matched. It had made sense for Talbot to retreat—he couldn’t retake the city against an army of comparable size and Mackenzie and Morgan’s forces, more American soldiers were coming every week, and he could expect neither reinforcement nor resupply for months. There just wasn’t anything left for him to do in Upper Canada other than be cornered and forced to surrender.

Poe wasn’t so sure it made sense for Harney to be chasing him like this. If they caught him on the open field, the outcome was very much in doubt. But he was here to report, not to advise. He was acutely aware of his own lack of expertise in such matters. He hadn’t even meant to be so close to the front line.

Only yesterday General Armistead, a man of no mean ambition himself — chiefly to be known as something more than “the other Armistead[2]” — had caught up to them. The Rideau, which was meant to be a convenient avenue for British reinforcements in case of American invasion, had instead turned out to be a convenient avenue for… American invasion. Now they had the British outnumbered more than two to one. And they had Henry-Hunt rockets and artillery, while the British only had a few Congreves and three- and four-pounders they’d managed to take with them.

And from the sound of things, today was going to be the day of decision.

* * *​

Between the river and the canal, just south of Bytown, there was a long, slender spit of land with a ridge of highish ground running down the middle. The British were holding both sides of it.

If they’d had enough cannon, and ammunition to use in it, it would go hard with us, thought Poe. As it was, holding the high ground (such as it was) just made them more exposed to American cannons. But while they stood, they were between the Americans and the Ottawa River. And are there really so few? I thought there were more. Armistead evidently agreed—he’d ordered Harney to deploy all his scouts in case the rest of the British army was out there somewhere, planning a sneak attack.

As a reporter, Poe had been advised that he would be safer without a weapon than with one—between that and his civilian suit, with any luck no one would mistake him for a soldier. He’d also been advised to come no closer to the actual fighting than necessary, a stricture he was happy to comply with.

So he could see little of the course of the battle. It seemed to be mostly an exchange of fire. Cannon firing onto the slopes, rifle-fire responding. The British seemed to have exhausted their round shot. If they had grapeshot or canister, they would be saving it for when the Americans charged up the hill. The battle seemed to progress for an hour or more with no resolution.

The rocket-men had been quiet so far, running up to the edge of the water and then back, seemingly pacing out the distance, doing some sort of calculations on scraps of paper, then moving their tripods around. After a good deal of fiddling with the angles, they launched.

The result was five almost evenly-spaced explosions over the west side, not to mention a sixth that went off too soon over the canal. On the east side, four rockets exploded overhead and two more hit the dirt and exploded there. What a charnel-house that must be.

* * *​

About half an hour later the British surrendered. Poe stood on the south bank of the river, hardly noticing the Stars and Stripes being raised over the lumber town, jotting down notes for his next dispatch.

“The men on that hill may have lost,” said Armistead, “but they did what they came to do. The rest of the army escaped.”

What they’d fought on the hill south of Bytown had been perhaps a third of Talbot’s forces. The rest had crossed the Ottawa—finding rafts was easy in a lumber town—and was taking up positions on the north riverbank, in the town of Hull[3] or retreating into the hills north of Hull.

“He’s Papineau’s problem now,” said Armistead. “Or possibly Papineau is his. In any event, we hold the town, and with it we effectively control all of Upper Canada.”

For now, thought Poe. Sooner or later the British will send their army, and they’ll have allies waiting. Unless Talbot and Papineau destroy one another, and we can’t possibly be so lucky. But unlike the readers of New York News & Literature, the readers of the Baltimore Ledger weren’t paying to hear his gloomy thoughts.


[1] The original name of Ottawa.
[2] This is Gen. Walker Keith Armistead. He’s the brother of George Armistead, hero of Baltimore and (ITTL) Detroit and the man for whom the capital of TTL’s Indiana is named.
[3] IOTL now known as Gatineau


Next week: the Battle of Sinepuxent begins.
 
Seems like the US has had a good start to the conflict so far, see if it continues to last. At least Edgar Allen Poe seems to be generally doing OK.
 
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