The Dead Skunk

I would say born Washington again, but also philly Atlanta and st louis

I'd say these generals have yet to show themselves a second coming of George Washington.

Well the American advance continues but the upper Canadian forces are down but not out. So the question now is, will the Canadas still fight in this dark hour or will establishment and rebel come together to fight the invader? A dramatic birth for Canadian nationalism?

Stay safe Mr. Poe.
 
Sinepuxent (1)
Dropping this one a day early in case people are on the road for the holidays, and also so you'll have an extra day to savor the cliffhanger.😁 Merry Christmas!
(And again, the abandonment of Sinepuxent IOTL means the layout of the harbor and sandbar is a little different, so Google Maps won't help with this one.)

It is a fact that even in this pre-Plori stage of the colony’s history, attitudes between races were different than they were elsewhere. Partly this was because black freedmen and fugitives had a valued role in that society that they didn’t have elsewhere—as English teachers for the other immigrants. Their English might not have passed muster in the West End of London or white American society, and not all of them could read (which limited how much help they were as teachers), but it was still English. This gave them an entryway into other communities that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The population of Florida consisted mostly of first- or second-generation immigrants. (I include the Muscogee[1] in this, by the way—Native Americans they may have been, but they were no more native to this particular part of America than the escapees from America.) Immigrants, as a group, are self-selected for hard work and willingness to endure danger and hardship for the sake of long-term goals. Runaway slaves, as a group, are a lot more so. If one group of immigrants was more noticeably successful than another, the Floridians themselves didn’t notice it and demographic statistics aren’t detailed enough to record it. So while it’s a mistake to think of the various communities of Florida solely in terms of what they became later, as if they were all just vegetables waiting to go into the stew, it’s worthwhile to notice that there was no hierarchy yet.

Except of course there was a hierarchy. At the top were (try to contain your astonishment) white people. What made Florida unusual, especially in the British Empire, was that white people weren’t alone there—the Muscogee were there as well, by virtue of owning so much of the colony. Some of it was inalienable (meaning they couldn’t sell it or give it and nobody else could possess it) tribal land, some of it the tribes owned in the usual way, and some of it individuals like Sam Arpucky, George Miconaba, William Osceola, or Halleck and Thlocklo Tustenuggee (that’s their names—look them up on EnSOAKopedia[2]) had bought in their own names.

My ancestors saw themselves as a warrior elite. As I type these words I’m half expecting G.G. Elmar to rise from his grave and burst into this room shouting “EVERY gang of landowning leeches ever spawned thinks it’s a warrior elite!” Which is true, starting with the English aristocracy the Muscogee were fighting alongside and the Southern planters they were fighting against. The difference was that in 1837, the Muscogee were no more than one generation removed—and their leaders were no generations removed—from having to fight for their lives against a powerful enemy that wanted to carthagize them. They also knew perfectly well that if they didn’t make it clear they were able and willing to fight, their even more powerful allies would sweep them aside just to get rid of the competition. I think we can all agree that makes a difference.

But to them, the Asian and black immigrants were just tenants—people who picked their fruit, harvested their rice, kept their bees and sheep, and needed their protection. You can see this in how they reacted when Governor Morrison started forming volunteer regiments out of these immigrants. The pejorative term for a Floridian, “joffie,” first appears in print accounts of the War of 1837 as a description of the volunteers. It’s a slight mispronunciation of the Muscogee word for “rabbit,” which gives you an idea what the Muscogee expected from the volunteers as soldiers. They made an exception, of course, for the Corps of Colonial Marines, especially after word of the Battle of Sinepuxent came south from Maryland…

Arthur Micco, Florida: A History Reconsidered

July 7, 1837
38°17’N, 75°06’W
5:45 a.m.

The sun was just starting to rise over the Atlantic. On the deck of HMS Illustrious, Captain John Dundas Cochrane[3] could see the shadow of the ship stretching over the water until it almost seemed to touch the shore of North Assateague. Alongside it stretched the longer shadows of Caledonia, Prince Regent, and Admiral Cockburn’s flagship Nelson, along with eight other ships. The Yankees would have to stare into the sun to get a good look at them.

This attack was Sir George Cockburn’s brainchild. He’d been putting it together since he heard of the declaration of war. What better way to teach the Yankees what was what than for the Royal Navy to destroy their Naval Academy?

And whatever they were using for a navy wasn’t here. Even if it had been, it would have been hard put to match this show of force, which was itself only a portion of what Britain had to offer. There was only one ship that they had any reason to fear, and according to their intelligence, it was too far away. They would have done their work and gone before it arrived.

The building that housed the Academy stood on the shore of Sinepuxent Bay. The harbor was guarded by two forts. These forts were low, surrounded by berms of earth and sand, both equipped with heated shot and capable of covering the whole entrance. Such forts could be reduced, but it would cost ships and men—more than such a symbolic victory deserved—and would be much harder without the bomb-ships and rocket-ships that the Royal Navy was probably working on right now in some shipyard somewhere.

So it was a very good thing that wasn’t the plan at all.

* * *​

The United States and the United Kingdom both consider the Battle of Sinepuxent a victory, but neither nation has ever named a warship after it. (The various U.S. Navy venators[4] named Sinepuxent were all named for the city, according to Navy press releases.) In addition, both nations’ governments held hearings afterward to explain the outcome of the “victory.”

In London, Sir Robert Peel, Leader of the Opposition, called for Lord Duncannon to step down. “Given the appearance of these terrible innovations and the utter absence of anything resembling preparation for them,” said Peel, “what assurance do we have, as we sit in session, that our Navy has not already been blasted out of the water and that the shores of our isles do not lie naked to the aggressor?” Lord Brougham defended his First Lord of the Admiralty, saying that “the true test of a man is not whether he can be surprised, but how he responds to surprise.” He added that the Royal Navy was already devising countermeasures “which will be made known in time to this august body—and to the enemy.”

For the United States, the humiliation of the land battle necessitated hearings in both the U.S. Congress and the state legislature in Annapolis regarding the performance of the militia…

Eric Wayne Ellison, Anglo-American Wars of the 19th Century

* * *​

The attack was simple—six ships would open fire on the northern fort with long guns from out of range of heated shot[5] and raise a safe, obscuring cloud of dust from the walls of earth and sand. Then the rest of the ships would move in closer and hammer the fort with carronades. Then they would do the same thing to the southern fort.

One might call this a feint, but it was a real threat that could not be ignored. What everyone hoped the Yankees didn’t know was that the killing blow was meant to come from elsewhere.

Illustrious was one of the ships doing the carronading when Cochrane saw the white sails coming in from the north, between the island and the shore. He couldn’t quite make out the Colonial Marines double-timing it alongside on the shore, but he knew they were there.

As soon as it was light enough, a flotilla of smaller vessels had sailed between North Assateague and Fenwick Island. All the southern entrances to Sinepuxent Bay were guarded by forts, but the northern entrance was unprotected. Studying this apparent weakness, Admiral Cockburn had come to one conclusion—it’s a trap. And sure enough, the northern inlet was too shallow for anything larger than a sloop, and even those ships would have to travel along a predictable path where they’d be easy prey for artillery. The Yankees could have stationed any number of guns on the mainland side of the narrow place, concealed behind brush, with the RN none the wiser.

That was where the Corps of Colonial Marines came in. Their job was to sweep the shoreline and seize or destroy the guns… and having done that, to head south into town.

And the best part was that the Marines were all black freedmen. Let Berrien chew on that.

* * *​

It might be more useful to consider Sinepuxent, not as a single battle, but as two battles fought in close proximity. Before we consider the terrible events at sea, we should first address the course of the battle on land. The defense of the town of Sinepuxent and environs, U.S. Naval Academy and all, was the responsibility of the Maryland militia. Academy students were expected to reinforce this defense in the event of an attack on the town.

The northern approach was guarded by light artillery. This artillery was hidden, but Admiral Cockburn had intuited its presence, and intelligence from Florida had confirmed it. Part of his battle plan was for the Colonial Marines to do a fast march down the mainland shore of the inlet, looking for those guns. They found that the guns were there… but for the most part, the gun crews were not, again confirming intelligence reports. Only a few militiamen were keeping watch, and their sole contribution was to flee for Sinepuxent and warn the town. The rest of the militia would barely have time to reach the armory and start handing out weapons before the Marines arrived.

Charles Cerniglia, 1837

* * *​

8:00 a.m.
Cochrane adjusted his spyglass and looked between the forts into the town of Sinepuxent. Success. The Maryland militia stationed here had been no match for a thousand trained soldiers. The Academy was burning, smoke streaming from every window. The Colonial Marines were using its flaming hulk as cover while they exchanged fire with the militia and students.

Then, for no apparent reason, the sails on a sloop burst into flame.

What just happened?

Cochrane got his answer a moment later, when two other rockets shot out of the town and exploded near the flotilla. Fortunately, they were not near enough any of the ships to do any damage.

First, let’s make sure they don’t do it to us. “Farquhar! Douglas!” Lieutenant Arthur Farquhar and Midshipman Charles Douglas appeared. “Get some men up on the rigging and soak down the sails!”

* * *​

For many years afterward, the U.S. Navy spoke of the Class of ’38 and the Class of ’42[6]—or simply “those who were there that day”—the way officers on the Continent a generation earlier spoke of “Nancy boys.” These were the men who had nothing to prove, whose mettle was already known to the world. Not because they had won the battle, but because they had survived an attack by trained soldiers coming out of nowhere. Interrupted in their studies early in the morning by shouts, cries, and the noise of an advancing army, they had held the building long enough to take the books, maps, and various valuables out, and carried them to the town hall, executing a fighting retreat with weapons that they were being handed just in time to begin using.

As for the militia, congressional and state hearings would both determine that their failure that day was, in the words of Governor John Nevitt Steele, “a failure not of valor, but of vigilance.” They had stood their ground in the face of an enemy they never should have allowed to get so close in the first place.

The commanding officer of the Sinepuxent regiment, Col. Charles Carroll of Doughoregan (a.k.a. Charles Carroll V), accepted the full blame for this failure and tendered his resignation. No one else was ever formally punished. To the defenders of the militia in the Maryland newspapers, the resignation of the grandson of a Founding Father and a member of the closest thing Maryland had to a royal dynasty was more than sufficient. “We hope that Carroll’s sacrifice will put an end to these calumnies against our brave Militia,” wrote the Baltimore Ledger. To the Army, the fact that the militia’s only response was to offer up Carroll as a sacrificial lamb was a sign that even the best state militias—and Maryland’s militia was indeed reckoned one of the better ones—could not be relied upon for any purpose other than reinforcement during combat. Sinepuxent, even more than Bladensburg a generation earlier, was the death knell for the idea of state militias as a serious military force, and none of the subsequent battles in the war reversed this judgment.

It was also yet another blow to the ingrained contempt for black soldiers that many whites in America still felt. The Corps of Colonial Marines, made up of Caribbean freedmen, had inflicted a defeat on the upper-class white militia and cadets. In their retreat, they had successfully carried out their own wounded, allowing no one to fall into enemy hands. When word of this battle came to Louisiana, President Roman introduced a bill that would expand government conscription to the free black population. “Whatever else Negroes may or may not be able to do,” he said, “they have proven that they can be trained in the soldier’s art.” After the Florida invasion, he made a second attempt to pass the bill, observing, “Who has more to lose if our republic falls to the Americans?” The bill was voted down—for the year. By the time it was reintroduced, of course, black men would be fighting for Louisiana, in greater numbers than Roman could have anticipated or desired.

This was not the first time that black soldiers had appeared on American battlefields, of course. To pick one example, blacks had fought on both sides at Bladensburg, showing both courage and professionalism in a battle where many whites had failed to show either. But in America, not only Southern gentry, but northern whites as well, had a tendency to put such incidents out of mind almost as quickly as they occurred. (As Captain March would one day say to Sen. Grayson during a Senate hearing, “How many times do we need to teach you this lesson, old man?”)

Charles Cerniglia, 1837

* * *​

8:30 a.m.
The Marines had left even faster than they’d arrived. Cochrane could hardly fault them for that—they had more reason than most not to want to be captured by the Americans, as they surely would be if the little ships that had brought them here all burned.

As he’d feared, the forts had begun to fire rockets at the fleet. His own foresight had protected his sails from damage, but that was not the case on every ship.

Then he turned to the south, where the rest of the fleet was.

No.

Beyond them, in the southwest, there was a thread of smoke on the horizon where no smoke should be.

Tonight or tomorrow, they said.

Long after we’re gone.

It can’t be here now.

Endymion
had already turned to investigate. That made this rightly Captain Wolfe’s concern, and Admiral Cockburn after him. There was no need for the captain of Illustrious to take an interest in the matter, but… I have to know. He aimed his spyglass, and there it was.

The demologos was coming.


[1] Meaning both the Creeks and the Seminoles.
[2] SOAK=Sum Of All Knowledge.
[3] Admiral Cochrane’s nephew. I hope nobody gets confused with all the Cochranes and Cockburns in the RN.
[4] Cruisers
[5] Heated shot was often fired with smaller charges, so it would bury itself in the hull instead of plunging through.
[6] As IOTL, Naval Academy students spent the first year of their five-year course of study in the academy, the next three years at sea, and the last year back in the Academy.
 
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What a lovely gift thank you.

And the best part was that the Marines were all black freedmen. Let Berrien chew on that.

*Cackle* "This day, a nightmare comes true. Enjoy!"

(As Captain March would one day say to Sen. Grayson during a Senate hearing, “How many times do we need to teach you this lesson, old man?”)

Ha!

And in Florida time to show that rabbits can fight.

Looks like I was right that Roman would not easily suceed in his conscription reform. But what is this on more partaking than he planned next year? An uprising in Dixie declaring loyalty to rhe Republic?
 
A good update indeed. Seems like the battle was a mixed bag with the Royal Navy getting a rough time of it. Good to see there's one in the eye for the US government as well. Is it going to create mass panic with the thought of colonial marines appearing along the coast at will, perhaps?
 
Sounds like the Florida invasion will happen sooner rather than later. Maybe Berrien demands action now to avenge the British unleashing "savages" on American soil? It could buy Louisiana more time if Berrien feels Britain being punished is the priority.

This battle might also affect the war in the North with Berrin fearful the raid will be the first of many using Colonial soldiers against the South which will terrify him and his supporters more than any desire to gain land to the North.
 
So it looks like the Demologi are about to clean house with the Royal Navy. At least Cochrane got what he wanted, another blow to the American image.
 
Sounds like the Florida invasion will happen sooner rather than later. Maybe Berrien demands action now to avenge the British unleashing "savages" on American soil? It could buy Louisiana more time if Berrien feels Britain being punished is the priority.

This battle might also affect the war in the North with Berrin fearful the raid will be the first of many using Colonial soldiers against the South which will terrify him and his supporters more than any desire to gain land to the North.

Makes me wonder how it's going to all turn out. From what we know of the world after the war, Louisiana will remain independent, there will be no TQ Presidents after this one and America will go through a period known as 'The Troubles' before it's engulfed in another war. None of those really bode well for the US at all. Although, I am curious about how victory would make these events come into being, should America emerge victorious in some shape or fashion.
 
As it stands, I'm betting on an ironic victory in Upper Canada/loss everywhere else for the United States tipping the balance further in favour of the free states.
 
Although, I am curious about how victory would make these events come into being, should America emerge victorious in some shape or fashion.

It all depends on how one defines victory I suppose. The South would not view it as much of a victory if the war ends with Upper Canada conquered, but no 'justice' against Florida or conquest of Louisiana. Likewise the South may see a draw if the South remains intact at the expense of trading back the Canadian conquests.

I am thinking the defeat will be as much political as military. With Berrien after this neglecting the Northern front keeping the American army from pressing its advantage as everything possible is shunted to Southern forces letting the imperial forces rally, settle a deal with the Francophones, and counterattack.

I could also see Berrien ending the war despite a relatively tenable position if he becomes convinced ending the war would be better for the South.

That would set up well for the troubles if a large segment of American society believes the war effort was squandered by another segment of society combined with the slavers already growing paranoia. Also sets up well for another war inside twenty years or so with the Americans believing they would have won this round if only their own house was in order at the time.
 
It all depends on how one defines victory I suppose. The South would not view it as much of a victory if the war ends with Upper Canada conquered, but no 'justice' against Florida or conquest of Louisiana. Likewise the South may see a draw if the South remains intact at the expense of trading back the Canadian conquests.

I am thinking the defeat will be as much political as military. With Berrien after this neglecting the Northern front keeping the American army from pressing its advantage as everything possible is shunted to Southern forces letting the imperial forces rally, settle a deal with the Francophones, and counterattack.

I could also see Berrien ending the war despite a relatively tenable position if he becomes convinced ending the war would be better for the South.

That would set up well for the troubles if a large segment of American society believes the war effort was squandered by another segment of society combined with the slavers already growing paranoia. Also sets up well for another war inside twenty years or so with the Americans believing they would have won this round if only their own house was in order at the time.

All fair points and sounds likely, although the war that's coming might not be against an external foe if the tensions within the country get as bad as OTL, just with more blood on hand.
 
All fair points and sounds likely, although the war that's coming might not be against an external foe if the tensions within the country get as bad as OTL, just with more blood on hand.

With the weaker slavers and any hope of foreign aid being much smaller than OTL I actually think we will avoid any Confederacy analogue ITTL; with the Troubles resulting in the end of slavery. Though how well that end will actually workout for the freed remains to be seen.

As for a coming foreign war:

Also turning ten this year are William Meriwether Shannon and Michael Todd. They’re both decent students, although better at sports. When it comes to foot racing, horse racing — they can both handle full-sized horses, as young as they are — or wrestling, neither will let himself be outdone by the other for very long. Everyone in Kentucky is making plans to watch from a safe distance when these boys discover girls.

“Tell Mike I’ll be in New Orleans two weeks before him.” — General William M. Shannon
“Only if he has a good, fast prisoner detail.” — General Michael Todd

So at the very least another war with Louisiana is in the making. And that likely means the British Empire is involved.
 
Sinepuxent (2)
July 7, 1837
38°17’N, 75°06’W
8:45 a.m.

As soon as he’d heard word that a British fleet had been spotted making for Sinepuxent, Captain Sydney Smith Lee had ordered full steam ahead. These ships were expensive. High time one of them was tested in battle, to see if they were worth the money.

Until last night, USS Representation had never once in all her years of service moved faster than three knots. (Lee was sure the Navy would claim this was foresight and part of some devious years-long plan, but he knew it had just been to save coal.) For the past eighteen hours, she had been moving at her top speed of six—still nothing to brag about in front of the captain of a sailing vessel, such as… was that really Endymion up ahead?

Yes. It was. The swift and deadly frigate that had been such a terror to the Americans in the last war. Sailing right up as if it had nothing to fear. They weren’t expecting us so soon. They never did learn our top speed, because we never had a reason to show it to them until today.

Let’s see what else they don’t know.

“As soon as they’re in range, destroy the rigging.”

That took another few minutes. Lee was very glad the Navy had agreed to equip Representation with rockets. He’d insisted on the best ones available—or what he hoped was the best. Some of them exploded with a fine blue flame. Did that make them hotter? They certainly made a merry blaze of Endymion’s sails. Not so fast now, are you, my dear? And that was only the beginning.

“Is the shot heated, Rasmussen?”

“Another fifteen minutes, sir.” That Dane from Massachusetts might be a northerner, but he was exactly the kind of man you wanted in charge of something as dangerous as heated shot.

“Very well.” Lee gave the orders for the second rocket bombardment—canister to sweep the decks and anti-ship incendiaries. There he was sure he had the best—at least the best that was currently available. (Take your time, Stabler brothers. No rush.) The fires that blossomed along the side of Endymion could not be put out by water.

Endymion fired back, of course. Representation didn’t even turn to engage. She simply steamed past, ignoring the cannonballs that left little dents in its iron-plated hull, briefly illuminated with orange-yellow light when the fire reached Endymion’s magazine.

* * *​

Cochrane lowered his spyglass. HMS Endymion, with Captain Wolfe and 359 men on board, was gone—blasted out of existence by a soulless grey mechanical monster that didn’t even look like a proper ship.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw semaphore flags being raised on Nelson.

EG, 1-RATES ENGAGE, BOARD REP​
REST GO NORTH, RENDEZVOUS​

What the hell is he playing at? Is he trying to go down in a blaze of glory?

On second thought, it made sense. Egmont was the closest ship to Representation and had over six hundred men on board, and every single one of the first-rates held a much larger crew complement than that thing. If one of them could get close enough for a boarding action… they still couldn’t take it as a prize, because there was no way of getting it back to Bermuda, never mind Portsmouth. But at least they could scuttle it. And that would be a blow to the Yankees—a lot of work and a lot of money must have gone into that monstrosity, and it was the keystone of their defenses on this part of the coast. But how many ships and men would be sacrificed in the attempt?

Never mind. I have orders to follow.

Cochrane gave the command. He hated doing anything that felt like a retreat, but… we’ve already won. We did what we came to do. We could all turn and flee this instant and still call this battle a victory. Even if that horror is faster than we thought, it can’t possibly outpace us. If nothing else, it will run out of coal before we run out of wind.

And there is always a chance that the admiral will succeed.

With Illustrious underway, Cochrane had nothing to do but stand at the stern and watch the progress of the battle. He could see the red sparks of heated shot arrowing from Representation into the sides of Cornwall and Poictiers. Egmont was already on fire from heated shot and rockets, the crew piling into the boats or swimming for shore. Prince Regent was trying to get closer to Representation by using the burning third-rate as a shield.

Then she passed Egmont, coming up alongside Representation.

And the columbiad spoke.

Cochrane could still feel his bones vibrating from that sound when he heard the splash and the splintering of heavy timbers. The boom of a hundred-pound columbiad was louder than the report of a normal cannon, deep as distant thunder and abrupt as a rifle-crack.[1] It had a terrible finality to it, like a book the size of a city slammed shut by the hand of God.

It seemed to say: If you can hear this, you are already dead. This battle is over.

Which for Prince Regent, it surely was. The shot had been exactly the sort of damage the columbiad was designed to inflict—a massive hole right at the waterline. Worse, the shot appeared to have gone right through the keel. The front of the ship was collapsing in on itself, dragging her to a dead stop in the water.

And now that no one was paying attention to them, the forts had gotten in on the act, sending cherry-red heated shot and screws of fire at the ships that came within range. Illustrious was already too far north, but none of the others were. Everyone not manning the guns was bringing up buckets of water or pouring those buckets over the decks or sails, or down the sides of the ships. Every once in a while a canister rocket would explode over a deck and kill a handful of men, but the rest would just keep working. HMS Powerful had lost almost all her sails and, with no way to escape and nothing better to do, was still trying to plaster the southern fort with suppressive fire.

Already three ships—Ajax, America, and Scarborough—were pulling away. Then a single rocket from somewhere on the beach needled its way through one of America’s gunports and found the magazine.

The ship exploded.

A moment later, as if she had forgotten she was on fire and needed to be reminded, so did Egmont.

And Representation wasn’t even trying to engage the two remaining first-rates that were coming after it. It was chasing the rest of the fleet. It should have been like an angry cow chasing racehorses, but some of the other ships had lost too much of their sails to those incendiaries and could hardly make better speed. Cornwall’s crew was abandoning her—the fire had gotten out of control there.

But Representation was turning away.

No—it was turning to point its other side at Caledonia, which was getting too close behind it.

The other columbiad spoke.

A hole a horse could have leapt through appeared in Caledonia’s side, and the mainmast—severed at the base—began collapsing into the bowels of the ship. All that from a cannonball scarcely larger than a man’s head.

And Nelson—on fire in three places—was still pressing the attack.

We came with twelve ships. We’ve lost six—probably seven, Powerful will be captured once she runs out of powder and shot. But if we can only rid the world of that damned thing


* * *​

“Sir!” shouted Rasmussen. Captain Lee wasn’t sure if it was to overcome the noise of the battle, or the ringing in both their ears. “If we fire the columbiads one more time, the carriages won’t take it! They’re not strong enough!”

“If that ship gets close enough to board, it won’t matter! Do it now!”

* * *​

A third shot. Nelson was zigzagging—as much as such an enormous ship could—and the hundred-pound ball sliced along the hull, sending a whole cannon spinning out into the sea.

Representation poured the heated shot into the gaping hole that had just formed. Then, at the last moment, she closed all her gunports on that side.

Nelson exploded so close to Representation that flames washed over the starboard deck of the demologos, causing rockets to launch themselves in random directions.

Farewell, Admiral Cockburn. You were one of the greats.

Wait. Can it still be coming?


Yes. One side was painted black with enemy soot, but Representation was still chugging away in pursuit of the limping, wounded Poictiers.

Captain Cochrane felt sick with despair. There’s nothing we can do. We can’t stop it. We can’t harm it. We can’t even hinder it. It’s slow, but if it sets our sails on fire we can’t escape. We can’t protect the smaller ships carrying the Marines. We can’t do anything against that bloody…

And then it stopped… and began to turn, rotating in the water like an immense compass needle.

For no reason, it turned and headed for the harbor, leaving behind a sea strewn with scorched wreckage and dead or struggling men.

Why? It had us. Why?

Never mind. Thank you, God. Thank you. Thank you. Thine is the victory.

Because it can’t possibly have been ours.


“Send out the boats and be ready with lines,” Cochrane ordered. “God willing, we can save some of those men.”

* * *​

“It seems you were right,” said Lee.

“Sorry, sir,” said Rasmussen. The Demologos class of warships was a class in name only. Every ship was different in design, and carried with it innovations that might or might not be used in the next one. Representation had been the beneficiary of this, faster and more seaworthy than any of her adoptive sisters, but now she was paying the price. Someone made a mistake when they were building this ship. They should have considered that we might have to fire each columbiad more than once in a given battle. They should have taken greater care in their calculations of force and strain.[2] They should have given us better gun-carriages. And more reinforcement for the lower decks and hull while they were at it.

That recoil from that last blast had broken the columbiad’s carriage, the huge gun had fallen, the deck was damaged, and water was coming in from somewhere below the armor at a rate that meant there was no hope of returning to Hampton Roads. They would have to make port in Sinepuxent, and that within the hour. And there they would remain for some time—Sinepuxent didn’t have the facilities to repair a demologos. Men and equipment would have to be brought here, and that would take who knew how long. Months, probably. It might be most of a year before Representation steamed to sea again.

All around them, U.S. Navy cadets were either putting out the last ashes of their Academy, or heading out in boats to collect the survivors of the battle.

They burned our academy. We ravaged their fleet. Who won this battle?

I don’t know. But thanks to me, the mouth of the Chesapeake lies open to the enemy. I don’t know who won this battle, but I fear I have just lost us the war.



[1] A bit speculative on my part. Here’s a columbiad firing with one pound of gunpowder. According to my research, a loaded columbiad fired in anger would have used somewhere between 10 and 20 pounds.
[2] Ever since I toured an old fort in Kansas and saw the firing slits positioned directly facing each other across a corridor, so that if invaders ever got inside the defenders would have no alternative but to shoot each other, I’ve never been willing to underestimate the capacity of designers to screw things up.


Happy New Year!
In January we head to Florida.
 
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Blue fire from the rockets? Well that's a bad time for the Royal Navy.

Talk about the stuff of nightmares. This bte as the deathblow for an era of warships written in smoke and blood.

Seems like this may be indicative of the wider war. The USa having advantages that 'should' win them the war but being undermined by outside factors together with the skills of the opposition. Which can come together to create major blame assignment based in-fighting with the Troubles and national desire for a rematch down the line.
 
Well, that's a big oof moment for the British Navy alright. At least they have some numbers to help with it. I take it the Representation was supposed to protect the Chesapeake and it having moved out from it, has now left it vulnerable to attack? I also take it that, having invested so much in the Demologos class of ships, the US Navy is a bit short on more conventional ships?
 
A battle that both nations claim as a victory and both commanders think of as a loss, really lovely stuff here, liked Cochrane's prayer especially.
 
Now to see how the nations react to this.

For the USA I expect sectional reactions to differ. The North seeing it as a victory and validation of the Demologos strategy. And the South focusing on the fact American territory was invaded and ransacked by the Colonial Marines. I maintain Berrien will pressured by his supporters t punish British Florida which is the Den of the Beast as far as they are concerned, the sooner the better.

For the UK this will like the invasion of Upper Canada be a wake-up call with many in power fear they have become complacent. Regardless of how the war ends we will see policy changes for the Royal Navy and the British Empire in America and possibly further afield.

For Louisiana I think this will press further on the conscription expansion movement. It has both demonstarted troops of coloir can and have shown their comopetece and coyrage in arms, and that the Brirish Empire is not an invincible protector they can count on. Likely not enough to push it through on its own, but this debate will I still think be the accidental gateway into abolitionism gaining a true foothold in the Republic.
 
Well, that's a big oof moment for the British Navy alright. At least they have some numbers to help with it. I take it the Representation was supposed to protect the Chesapeake and it having moved out from it, has now left it vulnerable to attack? I also take it that, having invested so much in the Demologos class of ships, the US Navy is a bit short on more conventional ships?
Yes and yes. (Although a big part of it is that the US Navy knew they'd be much weaker than the RN no matter what happened, so they concentrated on ships fast enough to escape, plus the handful of demologoi.)
 
That would be this guy, last seen in 1826:
Adolf Rasmussen turned ten in December, and his English has become quite good. Apart from being able to untangle even the most hopelessly snarled bit of net or line, he isn’t much use out on the boats. His parents are thinking of apprenticing him to somebody. Maybe a gunsmith.

"One rifle is a toy. One thousand rifles can change the course of a battle. One million rifles will alter the very nature of war.” — Adolf Rasmussen
Right now he's gaining some practical knowledge of artillery with the U.S. Navy.
 
South for the Winter (1)
Content note for the usual reason. (EDIT: I forgot the map. Sorry.)
Florida34 cropped.png


The first invasion of Florida began on September 1. Berrien’s plan was to conquer the peninsula over the course of the fall and winter, avoiding the worst summer heat and disease for as long as possible. “The sooner Florida is ours,” Berrien said, “the more thoroughly we may harden it against the British counterattack.” Implementation of this plan was in the hands of General David Twiggs, who was in overall command. The initial invasion was a regiment of U.S. cavalry under the command of the newly-promoted Col. Joseph E. Johnston and the recently-raised 1st and 2nd Georgia Cavalry regiments.

This invasion force crossed the St. Mary west of Fort Kinache and headed south, reaching Sepharad the next day. Johnston took the town without resistance, as the nearest soldiers were at Fort Colborne to the east. He informed the community that as of now, they were “freed from the British yoke, and could look forward to the rights and duties of citizenship in the United States.” He then requested shelter and provisions for his men and horses, and for the Georgia infantry regiments and militia that would soon be arriving, which would have been an imposition even if September 2 hadn’t been a Shabbat in a mostly-Jewish community.

Help was already on the way, but slowly. The same hurricane that kept the battered Ajax, Illustrious, and Scarborough[1] in harbor in Bermuda delayed the arrival of reinforcements from the mother country for a crucial week. But since the declaration of war, Governor Morrison had been far from idle. The Creek and Seminole regiments had already mustered for war, and the Crown was recruiting and training volunteers in Trafalgar, Bombay, Charlottesport[2], Liverpool[3], Kowloon[4], and St. Augustine. What was near at hand were the small garrisons from nearby fortifications. The “Battle of Levy’s Field”—one of many skirmishes in the War of 1812 which in a larger war would have gone unnamed by history—had left these garrisons with a case of earned hubris[5] and contempt for the force and skill of American arms. Late in the day on September 2, the Fort Colborne garrison attacked the American forces at Sepharad just as the latter were being reinforced by infantry. The attack was a complete failure.

According to the Army, the next target was St. Augustine…

Charles Cerniglia, 1837

September 5, 1837
South of Sepharad, Florida
about 5 p.m.

Major Lee[6] looked down from horseback on Sergeant Hooper Bragg, who had a feeling Lee was looking down on him in another sense as well.

“For the past few evenings I have been preoccupied with correspondence,” said Bragg, speaking a little slower than usual so as not to lapse into a lower-class accent. “There are many in this company who can neither read nor write, and need someone to write their letters home for them.”

“Commendable of you.”

Bragg lowered his voice so that his own men couldn’t hear him. “Given a choice, I’d sooner spend my evenings in the company of gentlemen, sir.” Where do y’all meet and talk? Where do y’all go for a drink?

“No doubt, Sergeant. But you should consider it your duty to tend to the needs of your men.” Privately, Bragg wondered if this was sincere, or if this was Lee’s way of saying kindly keep your lowborn, scandalous face where your betters don’t have to look at it. “Carry on.”

And off Lee went, his horse picking its way carefully over the dirt and corduroy road, leaving Bragg to return to the company of his own… company. He had a lifetime of experience (or as much of a lifetime as a 19-year-old could have had) in looking for signs of scorn in word choice, tone, face, or manner, and there hadn’t been anything from Lee to suggest that he’d even heard any of the stories about Bragg’s family… unlike so many others. Hooper Bragg. Son of a carpenter and a murderess. All right, his father was a carpenter, but so was Jesus Christ. You’d think that would give the profession a little more respect. And he was sure his mother had never killed that freedman. Or if she had, he’d had it coming.

Bragg almost wished he’d gone north and joined the armies under Armistead in Upper Canada. The Army as a whole was better than most at recognizing merit, but Southern gentlemen favored Southern gentlemen. Lee was the—what was it they called it in school?—the Platonic ideal of a Southern gentleman. But he also seemed to know what he was doing, and more importantly, so did Col. Johnston. Bragg had heard good things about Col. Trousdale of the Second Georgia Cavalry, but he doubted the man could match up, and Col. Fannin[7] of the First Georgia Cavalry even less so. As for Isaiah Hart, who ran the Georgia militia… boys playing at war. They can point a gun the right direction and shoot it, but God help us if we need to rely on them.

But combat wasn’t here yet. What was here was a need for clean water. No sooner had Bragg made sure his company had access to some than another officer came riding up.

“Captain Gabriel Toombs, Second Georgia Cavalry.”

“Sergeant Hooper Bragg. What can I do for you, sir?”

“We’re hearing reports that there is a large body of trainees at St. Augustine,” said Toombs. “Cols. Johnston and Trousdale wish to bring up a regiment or two of infantry for reinforcement before he marches on the town.”

Bragg nodded. The original plan—swoop in and take important targets with surprise attacks by cavalry, bring in infantry and artillery to reinforce them, force the British garrisons to either sit uselessly in their forts or come out and fight on American terms—had already succumbed to the realities of campaigning in Florida. Through swamps and over corduroy roads, a horse couldn’t run any faster than a man on foot without being at risk of breaking a leg and having to be put down. They’d already lost more of the beasts to careless steps than to enemy fire.

“At the same time, our rear is at risk of Creek attack over the St. Johns. We need to secure that flank, and we need to do it now.”

* * *​

St. Johns River, east bank
about 6:15 p.m.

The banks of the St. Johns were lined with paddy fields. Raised paths between the fields, and the occasional wooden walkway, were the only way to get around without getting your feet wet. Was this good horse country? Well, on the one hand, from horseback you had a better chance of seeing anyone who might be lurking in the tall rice. On the other hand, they absolutely could see you.

What it really was, Bragg decided as he slapped futilely again at a buzzing sound near his left ear, was good mosquito country. Whatever else they were growing around here, if they were operating a mosquito ranch, they were enjoying success beyond their wildest dreams. Smoke, the sooty bay gelding he was riding, was flicking its ears and swishing its tail in all directions. Even Captain Benning[8] of the First Georgia Cav was flailing to keep them off his blond head as he talked.

“See these fields?” said the captain. “They haven’t been harvested yet. The grains are still on the stalk. There’s a reason we invaded at this time of year. Now is the rice harvest. Now is when the runagate Negroes are out here. They can run, but they can’t hide. Every one of you catches one gets a share of the money.”

So that’s the real reason we’re here, thought Bragg. Fuck. He had no objections to slavery—his father wasn’t even a planter, but his business was such a success he owned twenty of them—but running around the paddy fields catching them seemed like a bad idea. Isn’t there a war on? What if the Injuns show up and want to fight? What are we supposed to do? Tell them ‘Come back later, we’re busy’? If we take Florida, everyone and everything in it is already ours—do we have to do this now?

Maybe they don’t think we can take Florida. Or they think we can take it but not hold it.

Or they’re just stupid. Never forget that’s a possibility. Last time Georgians stole a nigger off the limeys, the nigger went and burned down Savannah. So why not steal some more?


“Look for the females and the little pickaninnies,” said Benning. “They’ll be less trouble to handle.” Bragg nodded, along with everyone else. Will you just shut up, you towheaded fool? We’ll catch whoever we catch. You’re not making it sound any better.

My family isn’t hurting for money. But if I catch one, maybe I’ll get a little respect from these people.

Who am I kidding? The real high-class planters like Lee will still think I’m dirt because I worked with my hands. And for everybody else, this is just a lark.

May as well join the fun and hope the Injuns don’t interrupt.


* * *​

But for the first twenty minutes or so, there wasn’t much that could be called “fun.” Just riding around empty fields on horseback, slapping at mosquitoes and watching the rice for signs of people hiding in it.

Suddenly a soldier with a big mustache was shouting “Heads up, Sergeant!” There was a group of children—boys, they looked like—headed his way. Their lack of shirts made their dark brown skin very plain against the green stalks.

Bragg urged his horse forward a few paces to block their path. He gave a little upward tug on the reins, and his horse reared up on its hind legs. That always impressed people.

Then there was a sudden movement out of the corner of his eye, and without warning, Smoke’s left leg was giving way.

Bragg had his boots out of the stirrups and his left leg pulled up just in time to avoid being pinned under the water when the horse came down with a splash. Someone—no, several child-sized someones were running past him.

He stood up, reached out—and was pulling back before he even consciously realized he was under attack. There was a flash of steel in front of his chest.

Moving quickly, Bragg lunged as soon as the blade was past, got his hands on his attacker’s arm and shoulder and pinned the boy against the side of the berm. And this was just a boy—fourteen, maybe fifteen. Not big. Not real strong. But by the time the mustached officer and his friends got here, the other boys had made good their escape.

Bragg looked at the boy he was holding down. His features were subtly different from a Negro’s. His hair was black, but straight as a white man’s.

“I think we got a Hindoo,” he said. “I hear there’s a lot of ‘em in Florida.” Are we supposed to make slaves out of Hindoos? What’s the rule? This is exactly the sort of thing nobody ever tells me.

“Whatever he is,” said Bartow, “looks like he got in his licks on you.”

“What are you”—then Bragg felt the wetness on his shirt and the stinging on his chest. He looked down. There was a cut on his chest, and it was bleeding something fierce. Bragg wrested the sickle out of the boy’s hand and examined it. It was small, but had a better edge than any razor he’d ever shaved with.

From the sound of things, the others hadn’t thought about the question of what to do with people who weren’t white or black. While they were arguing, Bragg took a look at his horse. It was still thrashing around, one leg hamstrung. There was only one thing to be done. Bragg took the knife and slit its throat. The knife really was sharp—Bragg barely felt the resistance. Goodbye, Smoke. Last time I ever name a horse. All it does is make it sad when they die.

“Look, he’s definitely not white,” said Bartow. “And thanks to him, we lost the other boys, and I’m damn sure some of them were real niggers. Besides, if we’re going to be living here after the war, do we want these people as neighbors?”

“Put ‘em on ships and send ‘em all back wherever they came from,” somebody said.

“Well, we don’t have a ship. In the meantime… we’ll say he’s a nigger with Injun in him. Somebody’ll buy him.”

“Whatever the hell he is, this one’s a fighter,” said Bragg. “Y’all want to watch out for that.”

“Strong enough to fight is strong enough to work,” said Bartow, tying up the boy. “What’s your name, soldier?”

“Sergeant Hooper Bragg, U.S. Cavalry.”

“Sergeant Bragg, when we sell this boy we’ll see that you get your share. I’ll remember your name.”

“People generally do, sir.” Bragg slapped at his neck, and felt with satisfaction the tiny body of the crushed mosquito in his hand. Stupid little shit. There’s free horse blood all over everything, my blood all over everything, and you just had to try and get a drink out of my neck.

And I need to get some bandages. Probably some stitches, too. And some whiskey to pour on the wound. And a lot more whiskey to drink.

But at least I’ll get paid for this evening’s work. After that, the little bastard can burn down the whole state of Georgia for all I care.



Let me be clear—I am no more inclined to offer a defense of Col. Fannin and his yeomen than I am to defend Abercorn, Sebastian II, or the Group of Five. They were uncoexistwithable. Morrison wisely took advantage of the 1837 invasion, and Fannin’s actions within the invasion, to give what was then a collection of competing and sometimes hostile nationalities a sense of common purpose by inflaming them all with a common fear—that if the Americans won, anyone whose skin was darker than tea with cream was doomed to be dragged north in chains and sold into slavery. Since then, this has become one of the founding myths of the people we now call the Plori.

The fact remains, however, that of the 203 people kidnapped by slavers during the ill-fated invasion, only eight were of entirely non-African ancestry. It is sheer historical accident that one of them happened to be Anil Malakar…

Arthur Micco, Florida: A History Reconsidered

[1] These are the ships that made it back to Bermuda. HMS Powerful was captured at Sinepuxent, Poictiers was too badly damaged to make it home and was driven ashore at Cape May, and the rest… well, you know.
[2] OTL Port Charlotte. (They can’t all be mind-blowing changes.)
[3] OTL Fort Myers.
[4] OTL Port St. Lucie.
[5] Victory disease
[6] At this point IOTL Robert E. Lee was still a captain.
[7] James Fannin, a slave trader.
[8] The man Fort Benning is (at least as of this writing) named for.
 
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