The Pale Horse: The Northwest Montana Insurgency and its Aftermath (1987-2002)

The Mormons, at this point, have basically been shattered by the first year of Operation Mountain Lion. There's a handful of scattered cells functioning in the countryside south of Butte but, for the time being, they're essentially irrelevant. Of course, once government presence has disintegrated further, this could well change.
That was 4 years ago by this point, I'm surprised they haven't managed to reconstitute themselves considering that unlike the rest of the NWF that was essentially on it's own until the British started sending aid the Mormons have Utah and heavily Mormon southern Idaho conveniently to hand. While I'm sure mainstream Mormonism has no interest in assisting a bunch of fundies like the NNL there should be a lot of fundie Mormons in the PSA who would be very happy to provide assistance if Utah and Idaho are anything like the OTL region in the 1980's.
 
That was 4 years ago by this point, I'm surprised they haven't managed to reconstitute themselves considering that unlike the rest of the NWF that was essentially on it's own until the British started sending aid the Mormons have Utah and heavily Mormon southern Idaho conveniently to hand. While I'm sure mainstream Mormonism has no interest in assisting a bunch of fundies like the NNL there should be a lot of fundie Mormons in the PSA who would be very happy to provide assistance if Utah and Idaho are anything like the OTL region in the 1980's.
Maybe for now it actually has the opposite effect? The sympathetic neighbours make it very easy for Mormons to escape Montana and live in the PSA with the assistance of Mormon charities. Which could lead to some dramatic stuff later on (like how the Taliban grew out of refugee camps in Pakistan rather than the actual battlefields of the Soviet-Afghan War) if the author wants to re-involve them in the later phases of the conflict.
 
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That was 4 years ago by this point, I'm surprised they haven't managed to reconstitute themselves considering that unlike the rest of the NWF that was essentially on it's own until the British started sending aid the Mormons have Utah and heavily Mormon southern Idaho conveniently to hand. While I'm sure mainstream Mormonism has no interest in assisting a bunch of fundies like the NNL there should be a lot of fundie Mormons in the PSA who would be very happy to provide assistance if Utah and Idaho are anything like the OTL region in the 1980's.

Maybe f itor now actually has the opposite effect? The sympathetic neighbours make it very easy for Mormons to escape Montana and live in the PSA with the assistance of Mormon charities.
That was precisely my thinking on the Mormons. The NWF ended up in their commanding position among the various insurgent bodies in the early 90s simply because they were the only people who couldn't run somewhere else.
 
This was brilliantly written and disturbing at the same time...subscribed!

If I could ask a favor, could you post a version of the map of the CSA constituent republics with the actual name of each republic labeled? And being from the South, I'm curious about how "New Afika" worked....Yes, that part of the South has a very high African American population, but its not homgenous by any means-majority white and majority black towns exist right next to each other, and of course any town of any size would (then and now) be likely to have a mixed white and African American population. Did the CSA do what the Soviets did in early 20th century Central Asia-draw a bunch of squiggly lines on a map with little relation to either physical geography or the actual population on the ground, assign one squiggly-bordered province to each ethnicity (or black people, in this case) and then spend the next few decades pressuring everyone to move to their "ethnic homeland"? Actually, the thought of the depression-era South's racial issues being handled by a bunch of Soviet style bureaucrats is rather disquieting-it could go in several different directions, some of them really dark.
 
Interlude: The New Afrika and Gullah CSRs
This was brilliantly written and disturbing at the same time...subscribed!

If I could ask a favor, could you post a version of the map of the CSA constituent republics with the actual name of each republic labeled? And being from the South, I'm curious about how "New Afika" worked....Yes, that part of the South has a very high African American population, but its not homgenous by any means-majority white and majority black towns exist right next to each other, and of course any town of any size would (then and now) be likely to have a mixed white and African American population. Did the CSA do what the Soviets did in early 20th century Central Asia-draw a bunch of squiggly lines on a map with little relation to either physical geography or the actual population on the ground, assign one squiggly-bordered province to each ethnicity (or black people, in this case) and then spend the next few decades pressuring everyone to move to their "ethnic homeland"? Actually, the thought of the depression-era South's racial issues being handled by a bunch of Soviet style bureaucrats is rather disquieting-it could go in several different directions, some of them really dark.
In planning out the TL, I’ve only got as far as naming some of the CSRs comprising the Combined Syndicates of America: a map of the CSA with each of the CSRs who have either been mentioned already or are intended to play some sort of role in the chapters I’ve planned out is set out below. It’ll be undoubtedly expanded upon as I get further.

CSRs.png


To an extent, the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs were a project which withered on the vine. With its roots in the Sharecropper’s Union’s uprising in early 1938 which essentially gifted the Chicago government control of most of the upper Mississippi at a crucial moment for the survival of the state, its actual implementation as a culturally-distinct and independent homeland for black Americans was hampered by the fact that by the time the borders of the CSRs were agreed in 1940, the most prominent black Syndicalists had either managed to get themselves killed (in the case of Oliver Law) or attached themselves to one of the several internal factions which were ultimately frozen out of the decision-making process (most obviously Ned Cobb and Harry Haywood). As a result, the Chicago Congress ended up drawing a line around the two most monolithically black areas of the CSA and establishing the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs as constituent republics of the CSA.

There was some population exchange, particularly between New Afrika and the newly-formed Gulfland CSR (established as a counterweight to New Afrika for white Southerners): while compensation was promised for any property left behind, this in practice took years to arrive, if ever: well into the 1960s this provided an active source of tension between the CSRs. While there was a genuine improvement in relations from the early 1970s onwards (driven in part by the unlikely but genuine friendship between Gulfland President George Wallace and New Afrika President Robert Lee Maupin) pretty much the only thing both CSRs have consistently agreed on is that one of them should own New Orleans (currently within the East Texas CSR, and one of the few cities of any size to have a roughly equal population of black and white Americans).

One of the biggest demographic changes from OTL is that the Second Great Migration never took place – while there was a ramp-up of production in the Steel Belt to support the Syndicalist war effort in Europe, this never reached the extent of the US in the Second World War. Additionally, the Chicago government was acutely aware that its power was ultimately derived from a network of dozens of mid-sized unions, and was happy to give workers a very wide degree of latitude in who they wanted to fill vacancies in the factories they controlled. Despite occasional faltering efforts to ensure some degree of openness, most unions, particularly in areas with significant white ethnic communities, ended up dominated by these communities: for example, even as late as 1992, it’s virtually impossible to get a job as a skilled labourer in several industries in Cleveland unless you’re identifiably Polish.

This, plus the secession of two of the whitest parts of America circa 1936, means that the black population of the CSA in the early 90s is about 25% of the total population, almost exclusively concentrated in the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs. The attempts of local government to construct a new unified identity for the inhabitants of the former, and deep folkloric interest in the customs of the latter, have meant that the two CSRs have inexorably diverged, to the point where “Negro” (the preferred ethnonym for black New Afrikans) and “Gullah” are seen as completely culturally distinct.

The CSA did enjoy genuine success in eradicating lynching in the South from the early 1940s onwards, and during the psychotherapeutic regime of William Sargant, “racism” was, strictly speaking, one of the things you could be lobotomised for. A well-disposed visitor to the New Afrika CSR in the early 90s could be forgiven for leaving with the general impression that the CSA has stamped out racial oppression, and vastly improved the lives of its Negro citizens – provided, of course, that he doesn’t ask too many pointed questions about relative HDIs of each of the CSRs, or exactly how many Negro and Gullah politicians have attained positions of genuine prominence on a national level.

In reality, the New Afrika CSR is, alongside the Appalachia CSR (the brainchild of a branch of Syndicalists who believed that the Appalachian people formed a distinct and historically oppressed ethnic group), one of the poorest in the CSA: the vast majority of its citizens are still essentially sharecroppers who have exchanged one master for another (and sharecroppers earning materially less by 1992 than they were by 1980 thanks to rampant inflation). It should be noted that the Gullah CSR’s ownership of Charleston and its port has made it significantly wealthier than the New Afrika CSR: as of 1992, Gullah President Clarence Thomas has begun to ally himself with the reformist faction of the Syndicalist Union Party.

The Gulf CSR has historically been somewhat more developed than the New Afrika CSR: recent discoveries of oil off its cost, however, will ensure that the two CSRs will have very different experiences of the collapse of the CSA. I’ve planned out a TL covering this period from their perspective (provisionally titled “When the Levee Breaks”) after the current TL is finished.

For reference, a map of the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs (taken from a children’s world atlas published in 1960) is reproduced below:

mqKKTpJ.png
 

Eparkhos

Banned
In planning out the TL, I’ve only got as far as naming some of the CSRs comprising the Combined Syndicates of America: a map of the CSA with each of the CSRs who have either been mentioned already or are intended to play some sort of role in the chapters I’ve planned out is set out below. It’ll be undoubtedly expanded upon as I get further.

View attachment 673621

To an extent, the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs were a project which withered on the vine. With its roots in the Sharecropper’s Union’s uprising in early 1938 which essentially gifted the Chicago government control of most of the upper Mississippi at a crucial moment for the survival of the state, its actual implementation as a culturally-distinct and independent homeland for black Americans was hampered by the fact that by the time the borders of the CSRs were agreed in 1940, the most prominent black Syndicalists had either managed to get themselves killed (in the case of Oliver Law) or attached themselves to one of the several internal factions which were ultimately frozen out of the decision-making process (most obviously Ned Cobb and Harry Haywood). As a result, the Chicago Congress ended up drawing a line around the two most monolithically black areas of the CSA and establishing the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs as constituent republics of the CSA.

There was some population exchange, particularly between New Afrika and the newly-formed Gulfland CSR (established as a counterweight to New Afrika for white Southerners): while compensation was promised for any property left behind, this in practice took years to arrive, if ever: well into the 1960s this provided an active source of tension between the CSRs. While there was a genuine improvement in relations from the early 1970s onwards (driven in part by the unlikely but genuine friendship between Gulfland President George Wallace and New Afrika President Robert Lee Maupin) pretty much the only thing both CSRs have consistently agreed on is that one of them should own New Orleans (currently within the East Texas CSR, and one of the few cities of any size to have a roughly equal population of black and white Americans).

One of the biggest demographic changes from OTL is that the Second Great Migration never took place – while there was a ramp-up of production in the Steel Belt to support the Syndicalist war effort in Europe, this never reached the extent of the US in the Second World War. Additionally, the Chicago government was acutely aware that its power was ultimately derived from a network of dozens of mid-sized unions, and was happy to give workers a very wide degree of latitude in who they wanted to fill vacancies in the factories they controlled. Despite occasional faltering efforts to ensure some degree of openness, most unions, particularly in areas with significant white ethnic communities, ended up dominated by these communities: for example, even as late as 1992, it’s virtually impossible to get a job as a skilled labourer in several industries in Cleveland unless you’re identifiably Polish.

This, plus the secession of two of the whitest parts of America circa 1936, means that the black population of the CSA in the early 90s is about 25% of the total population, almost exclusively concentrated in the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs. The attempts of local government to construct a new unified identity for the inhabitants of the former, and deep folkloric interest in the customs of the latter, have meant that the two CSRs have inexorably diverged, to the point where “Negro” (the preferred ethnonym for black New Afrikans) and “Gullah” are seen as completely culturally distinct.

The CSA did enjoy genuine success in eradicating lynching in the South from the early 1940s onwards, and during the psychotherapeutic regime of William Sargant, “racism” was, strictly speaking, one of the things you could be lobotomised for. A well-disposed visitor to the New Afrika CSR in the early 90s could be forgiven for leaving with the general impression that the CSA has stamped out racial oppression, and vastly improved the lives of its Negro citizens – provided, of course, that he doesn’t ask too many pointed questions about relative HDIs of each of the CSRs, or exactly how many Negro and Gullah politicians have attained positions of genuine prominence on a national level.

In reality, the New Afrika CSR is, alongside the Appalachia CSR (the brainchild of a branch of Syndicalists who believed that the Appalachian people formed a distinct and historically oppressed ethnic group), one of the poorest in the CSA: the vast majority of its citizens are still essentially sharecroppers who have exchanged one master for another (and sharecroppers earning materially less by 1992 than they were by 1980 thanks to rampant inflation). It should be noted that the Gullah CSR’s ownership of Charleston and its port has made it significantly wealthier than the New Afrika CSR: as of 1992, Gullah President Clarence Thomas has begun to ally himself with the reformist faction of the Syndicalist Union Party.

The Gulf CSR has historically been somewhat more developed than the New Afrika CSR: recent discoveries of oil off its cost, however, will ensure that the two CSRs will have very different experiences of the collapse of the CSA. I’ve planned out a TL covering this period from their perspective (provisionally titled “When the Levee Breaks”) after the current TL is finished.

For reference, a map of the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs (taken from a children’s world atlas published in 1960) is reproduced below:

mqKKTpJ.png
Interesting. Do the Amerindians have their own CSRs or regional autonomies, both in the CSA and the PSA? And other than the Black and Appalachian CSRs, are there any others in the CSA?
 
Somewhat relatedly, on the DigiTel map, there are a lot of cities which are marked as being separate from the CSRs that surround them. In practice, how autonomous are they?
 
Interesting. Do the Amerindians have their own CSRs or regional autonomies, both in the CSA and the PSA? And other than the Black and Appalachian CSRs, are there any others in the CSA?

There's the tiny Sequoyah CSR, carved out of Oklahoma, but that's about it. The CSA's always been very vaguely well-disposed to Amerindians on principle, but in practice they were never a numerous or important enough group to get much of a seat at the table.

Somewhat relatedly, on the DigiTel map, there are a lot of cities which are marked as being separate from the CSRs that surround them. In practice, how autonomous are they?

That very much depends on the city and the CSR in which it's located. New York and Chicago are virtually autonomous, while New Orleans and St Louis have a vastly greater administrative dependency on their CSRs. The existence of autonomous cities, a byproduct of several Local Defence Councils formed during the Civil War and ultimately amalgamated into the CSA, has historically been seen as something of an anomaly by the Chicago government, but no-one since Burnham has really cared enough to regularise their statuses.
 
In planning out the TL, I’ve only got as far as naming some of the CSRs comprising the Combined Syndicates of America: a map of the CSA with each of the CSRs who have either been mentioned already or are intended to play some sort of role in the chapters I’ve planned out is set out below. It’ll be undoubtedly expanded upon as I get further.

View attachment 673621

To an extent, the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs were a project which withered on the vine. With its roots in the Sharecropper’s Union’s uprising in early 1938 which essentially gifted the Chicago government control of most of the upper Mississippi at a crucial moment for the survival of the state, its actual implementation as a culturally-distinct and independent homeland for black Americans was hampered by the fact that by the time the borders of the CSRs were agreed in 1940, the most prominent black Syndicalists had either managed to get themselves killed (in the case of Oliver Law) or attached themselves to one of the several internal factions which were ultimately frozen out of the decision-making process (most obviously Ned Cobb and Harry Haywood). As a result, the Chicago Congress ended up drawing a line around the two most monolithically black areas of the CSA and establishing the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs as constituent republics of the CSA.

There was some population exchange, particularly between New Afrika and the newly-formed Gulfland CSR (established as a counterweight to New Afrika for white Southerners): while compensation was promised for any property left behind, this in practice took years to arrive, if ever: well into the 1960s this provided an active source of tension between the CSRs. While there was a genuine improvement in relations from the early 1970s onwards (driven in part by the unlikely but genuine friendship between Gulfland President George Wallace and New Afrika President Robert Lee Maupin) pretty much the only thing both CSRs have consistently agreed on is that one of them should own New Orleans (currently within the East Texas CSR, and one of the few cities of any size to have a roughly equal population of black and white Americans).

One of the biggest demographic changes from OTL is that the Second Great Migration never took place – while there was a ramp-up of production in the Steel Belt to support the Syndicalist war effort in Europe, this never reached the extent of the US in the Second World War. Additionally, the Chicago government was acutely aware that its power was ultimately derived from a network of dozens of mid-sized unions, and was happy to give workers a very wide degree of latitude in who they wanted to fill vacancies in the factories they controlled. Despite occasional faltering efforts to ensure some degree of openness, most unions, particularly in areas with significant white ethnic communities, ended up dominated by these communities: for example, even as late as 1992, it’s virtually impossible to get a job as a skilled labourer in several industries in Cleveland unless you’re identifiably Polish.

This, plus the secession of two of the whitest parts of America circa 1936, means that the black population of the CSA in the early 90s is about 25% of the total population, almost exclusively concentrated in the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs. The attempts of local government to construct a new unified identity for the inhabitants of the former, and deep folkloric interest in the customs of the latter, have meant that the two CSRs have inexorably diverged, to the point where “Negro” (the preferred ethnonym for black New Afrikans) and “Gullah” are seen as completely culturally distinct.

The CSA did enjoy genuine success in eradicating lynching in the South from the early 1940s onwards, and during the psychotherapeutic regime of William Sargant, “racism” was, strictly speaking, one of the things you could be lobotomised for. A well-disposed visitor to the New Afrika CSR in the early 90s could be forgiven for leaving with the general impression that the CSA has stamped out racial oppression, and vastly improved the lives of its Negro citizens – provided, of course, that he doesn’t ask too many pointed questions about relative HDIs of each of the CSRs, or exactly how many Negro and Gullah politicians have attained positions of genuine prominence on a national level.

In reality, the New Afrika CSR is, alongside the Appalachia CSR (the brainchild of a branch of Syndicalists who believed that the Appalachian people formed a distinct and historically oppressed ethnic group), one of the poorest in the CSA: the vast majority of its citizens are still essentially sharecroppers who have exchanged one master for another (and sharecroppers earning materially less by 1992 than they were by 1980 thanks to rampant inflation). It should be noted that the Gullah CSR’s ownership of Charleston and its port has made it significantly wealthier than the New Afrika CSR: as of 1992, Gullah President Clarence Thomas has begun to ally himself with the reformist faction of the Syndicalist Union Party.

The Gulf CSR has historically been somewhat more developed than the New Afrika CSR: recent discoveries of oil off its cost, however, will ensure that the two CSRs will have very different experiences of the collapse of the CSA. I’ve planned out a TL covering this period from their perspective (provisionally titled “When the Levee Breaks”) after the current TL is finished.

For reference, a map of the New Afrika and Gullah CSRs (taken from a children’s world atlas published in 1960) is reproduced below:

mqKKTpJ.png
Does Savannah still have its iconic squares or has the city been re-engineered?
 
For a revolution that was a soft one. You can tell in so many ways the grossly incompetent network of one social configuration fell to pieces with an incoherent capacity to mobilize social violence.

when the levy breaks the CSAs will not have present *incoherent* capacities to mobilize social violence. If nothing else the North West has taught them.
 
Kind of Bizarre the Appalachian SSR encompasses all of Central PA but not E KY or E TN if we are talking about “Appalachians” as a distinct people then the latter regions are more central to that identity than the former. Certainly Central PA or “Pennsyltucky” was originally settled by Scots-Irish Borderers and is still broadly “Appalachian” today but less so that E. KY etc.

Still if you’re looking for a name for the SSR that covers most of KY and TN I am partial to “Cumberland” as in the Cumberland Gap, Cumberland Plateau, Cumberland River and Cumberland Mountains which cross the central and eastern regions of both states.
 

LostInNewDelhi

Gone Fishin'
Just found this (I think from a post in the Map Threads?) and caught up.

Biker gang insurgents using Cybersyn... How do you come up with this stuff? I'd certainly be happy to see more "micro-histories" set in this same world.

Getting these funds to the NWF was another matter entirely. It was here that Cook proved most immediately useful: exploiting a slight acquaintance with Gislan Hoch, he was able to arrange a series of clandestine meetings with her father Jan, from 1985-1996 the Danubian Confederation’s representative on the Steering Committee of the Brussels International Lending Bank . The precise nature of these meetings and the material covered has never been made public: however, it is unlikely that Hoch, who had been held in a French prisoner-of-war camp from 1943 to 1947 and whose family had been forced to flee the Syndicalist advance into Central Europe, would have objected to the chance to deal a serious blow to the last remaining bastion (even if name only) of International Syndicalism.
Hm, so looks like the Syndicalists won against the Germans and lost to the Entente? I'm not really too well-versed on Kaiserreich.
 

LostInNewDelhi

Gone Fishin'
Kind of Bizarre the Appalachian SSR encompasses all of Central PA but not E KY or E TN if we are talking about “Appalachians” as a distinct people then the latter regions are more central to that identity than the former. Certainly Central PA or “Pennsyltucky” was originally settled by Scots-Irish Borderers and is still broadly “Appalachian” today but less so that E. KY etc.

Still if you’re looking for a name for the SSR that covers most of KY and TN I am partial to “Cumberland” as in the Cumberland Gap, Cumberland Plateau, Cumberland River and Cumberland Mountains which cross the central and eastern regions of both states.
Speaking of names, maybe Steel Belt could be called Haymarket, or something else relevant to the kind of history the Syndicates want to promote. If only because it's gonna suck if later on "Steel Belt" only makes people think of rust. Maybe the successor state renames the territory for George Rogers Clark or some other Northwest hero.

East and West Texas seem rather aggrandizing to Texas. Maybe Texarkana for the eastern one and just New Mexico for the western one-- idk how Mexican immigration or Chicano identity has turned out TTL, or how the Syndicates handle immigration at all, but it seems like sooner or later New Mexicans and Mexican immigrants would call for a name change.

I wonder how exactly the collapse was accomplished. OTL you had a Russian SSR, complete with its own newly elected president and legislature, waiting to graft the All-Union institutions onto itself-- you could conceptualize what was happening as a reassignment or handing over of keys at the top level. There's an immediate answer to the question of "If not Gorbachev then who?" that doesn't require the consent of all the other SSRs. But the collapse of the Combined Syndicates may be something Traficant has to be more personally involved in, to construct the government which will succeed his from no prior precedent. There may for example be an actual renegotiated Union Treaty signed by some fraction of the constituent Republics.
 
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Tougher Than You Can Imagine (1993)
Tougher Than You Can Imagine (1993)

One morning in 1996, Ed Novak, a plumber working in the greater Seattle area, turned on his television and received an unpleasant shock. An interview was being conducted with a member of the Reconstituted Nauvoo Legion who was hanging off the back of the Toyota Hilux that Novak had reported stolen in early 1993 (now with a heavy machinegun welded to the flatbed). To make matters worse, the cameraman had framed the shot to ensure that the “Novak Plumbing” logo painted on the side of the truck was clearly visible for the duration of the interview. What was, for Novak, a mildly embarrassing piece of unintended advertising was emblematic of a larger shift in the nature of the Northwest Montana Insurgency, starting in the last half of 1993.

At the outset of Operation Mountain Lion, the remnants of the New Nauvoo Legion had in many ways been more fortunate than their colleagues to their North: while anyone who stood and fought was killed where he stood, the Mormon missionary networks connecting Utah and Idaho with Grangeland proved invaluable in facilitating the flight of refugees, with over two thousand former combatants finding safety over the border with the Pacific States of America. Although these combatants were officially rendered stateless due to the PSA’s reluctance to make any official declaration on their status, largesse from even fairly mainstream Mormon organisations ensured that they were at least reasonably well-supplied in the half-dozen camps close to the border in which they congregated.

At the same time as the Commonwealth was making tentative moves towards arming the Northwest Front, the Pacific Strategic Services Organisation’s American department finally turned its attention to the Legion: what began as a routine investigation, in the wake of the Sagebrush Rebellion, to ensure that no material support for anti-Sacramento militants was being routed through these camps turned inexorably into a proposal to carve out a sphere of interest within Northwest Montana for the PSA itself, using the Legion’s exiled insurgents.

The challenges facing what was known from late 1992 onwards as the Reconstituted Nauvoo Legion were subtly different to those facing the Northwest Front prior to the Commonwealth’s intervention. In the extreme north-west corner of the Grangeland CSR, the helicopter had been central to SATPO’s day-to-day operations: south of Missoula, in territories patrolled by Oliver North’s Mechanised Division, the Infantry Fighting Vehicle was king.

To counter this advantage, the RNL’s backers looked to lessons learned from the African Bush Wars of the early 1980s. On both sides of the PSA/CSA border, pickup trucks were common and easily available: thanks to a thriving black-market trade in more reliable Pacifican and Japanese trucks from the 1970s onwards, vehicles could pass between the two countries without exciting comment. With the addition of flatbed-mounted heavy machine guns and AGTMs and rudimentary armour plating, these vehicles were intended to form the nucleus of the RNL’s operations.

Logistical support for the RNL was to be provided on an ongoing basis by part of the Pacific Strategic Services Organisation’s network of shell companies, while its leadership (The New Nauvoo Legion’s own command structure having largely been decapitated in the second half of 1989) was to be facilitated by semi-retired military assets now working as security contractors. Under this system, intense small-unit combat training commenced for the RNL in early 1993: with the unexpectedly rapid advance of the NWF emboldening the RNL, infiltration of the first few combat teams was pushed forward to late summer.

The RNL and SATPO met for the first time on 12 October 1993, when a routine mechanised patrol outside Virginia City ran into resistance which was unexpectedly stiff for any of the local militias known to be operating in the area, before being outflanked by three heavy machinegun-mounted pickup trucks. In the next confused half-hour of fighting, both sides suffered roughly a dozen casualties: the patrol was ultimately able to conduct a fighting retreat to its Forward Operating Base at the cost of one Infantry Fighting Vehicle abandoned and the other damaged beyond repair.

By any reasonable standard, a small-scale engagement fought in a comparatively peaceful area should have been largely irrelevant. There are, however, three factors which add greatly to its importance. Firstly, the tactics used and the fact that the battle had gone on for half an hour (by late 1993, the average length of an engagement between the NWF and SATPO was about one and a half minutes, with particularly competent insurgent cells getting this down to forty seconds at times) were significant departures from the insurgency’s previous standard operating procedure – SATPO would be forced to reorientate to counter a new threat at a time when it had more than enough on its plate already.

Secondly, the Battle of Virginia City represents the first occasion when a company-sized body of insurgents, meeting a roughly equal force on roughly equal terms, was able to inflict some form of defeat on the counter-insurgents. SATPO’s last real advantage – its invulnerability whenever it concentrated its forces sufficiently - had evaporated: from now on, it would find itself permanently on the defensive.

Finally (although completely unremarked at the time) the engagement represents the first point at which one particular PSSO asset, a semi-retired lieutenant colonel with a military intelligence background who had been placed in charge of an RNL unit, was provably present in Northwest Montana. By the end of the decade, the Pacific States of America would come to regret their use of Michael A. Aquino bitterly.
 
Still if you’re looking for a name for the SSR that covers most of KY and TN I am partial to “Cumberland” as in the Cumberland Gap, Cumberland Plateau, Cumberland River and Cumberland Mountains which cross the central and eastern regions of both states.

Speaking of names, maybe Steel Belt could be called Haymarket, or something else relevant to the kind of history the Syndicates want to promote. If only because it's gonna suck if later on "Steel Belt" only makes people think of rust. Maybe the successor state renames the territory for George Rogers Clark or some other Northwest hero.

East and West Texas seem rather aggrandizing to Texas. Maybe Texarkana for the eastern one and just New Mexico for the western one-- idk how Mexican immigration or Chicano identity has turned out TTL, or how the Syndicates handle immigration at all, but it seems like sooner or later New Mexicans and Mexican immigrants would call for a name change.

I'm stealing these excellent ideas (although I think the best candidate for Haymarket is the CSR encompassing Wisconsin and most of Illinois, given that my vague recollection of the Haymarket Riots has them taking place in Chicago). If anyone better versed in late 19th/early 20th century labour disputes can think of a suitably emblematic event which took place in Northern Indiana, Ohio or Michigan, I'll change the Steel Belt's name as well. From my limited experience of Texans, I strongly suspect that they'd object more to no named state being called Texas than to the imposition of a hardline Syndicalist government, so I think the East Texas CSR ought to stay, but I agree on Texarkana.

Your point on Mexican immigration's an interesting one - in TTL, the lack of a bracero program in the East Texas CSR means that there's much less immigration coming into the CSA from Mexico, with most of the casual labour being diverted to the PSA.

I wonder how exactly the collapse was accomplished. OTL you had a Russian SSR, complete with its own newly elected president and legislature, waiting to graft the All-Union institutions onto itself-- you could conceptualize what was happening as a reassignment or handing over of keys at the top level. There's an immediate answer to the question of "If not Gorbachev then who?" that doesn't require the consent of all the other SSRs. But the collapse of the Combined Syndicates may be something Traficant has to be more personally involved in, to construct the government which will succeed his from no prior precedent. There may for example be an actual renegotiated Union Treaty signed by some fraction of the constituent Republics.

There'll be more on that later, but the CSA's successor state actually manages to retain virtually all of the CSA's territory, at the cost of becoming a far looser confederation of almost-independent republics.
 
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