The Union Forever: A TL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Mac Gregor, Jun 29, 2010.

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  1. Threadmarks: January-May 1862

    Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    The Union Forever
    [​IMG]

    January-May 1862



    Union fortunes were looking up in the early months on 1862. After a largely lackluster performance for most of 1861, Federal troops scored a series of impressive victories against the South. Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant captured the Confederate Forts Donnellson and Henry on February 6 and 16, opening up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Nashville, then the capital of Tennessee, fell by the end of the Month. The Union even managed a costly victory at the Battle of Shiloh on April 7. On the Mississippi River, Brigadier General John Pope captured Island Number 10 and over 7,000 prisoners on April 8. These successes earned Grant and Pope promotions to Major General. Further south New Orleans, the largest port in the Confederacy, fell to Admiral Farragut and General Butler on May 1 crippling the Confederate’s use of the Mississippi. Union forces were also making impressive headway by capturing points along the Confederate coastline.

    Confederate reverses had severely dampened Confederate spirits. When Jefferson Davis was formally installed as the President of the Confederate States of America, previously he had just been provisional president, on a rainy day in Richmond an onlooker asked one of Davis’s footmen why he and President Davis were dressed in black suites. The footman responded with “Well Ma’am this is how we always have done in Richmond for funerals and such.” And with the large Army of the Potomac hovering north of the city many in the Confederacy were wondering whether their secessionist experiment might soon unravel.

    The Beginning of the Peninsula Campaign and McClellan’s Accident

    With these successes in the west, Lincoln naturally pressed for similar results in the east. Unfortunately President Lincoln and his eastern generals differed as to the preferred method. Lincoln desired the obvious choice of an overland campaign from Washington to destroy Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Northern Virginia and capture the Confederate capital. The President however eventually bowed to General McClellan’s plan to land the Army of the Potomac on the Virginia coast and then move onto Richmond.

    The Union had been making steady but painfully slow progress up the Peninsular between the James and York Rivers since March capturing Yorktown, the former colonial capital of Williamsburg, and the vital naval base of Norfolk. At Norfolk, the Confederates destroyed the ironclad CSS Merrimack to prevent her from falling into Union hands.

    On May 12, Major General McClellan must have been feeling very pleased with himself after the recent capture of Norfolk against what he consistently believed to be “vastly superior rebel numbers.” Whether this sense of overconfidence helped McClellan not see the shard of metal in the road on that spring morning however is lost to history. Around 8:00 AM after a light breakfast with some of his lieutenants, McClellan mounted his horse Baldy to inspect the camp and make his rounds amongst the troops. Sadly for McClellan, while trotting at a good pace along a fence line near Headquarters, Baldy picked up 6 inch sliver of metal that was protruding from the road. Whether this piece of metal was placed there intentionally has never been proven. Because of the speed at which Baldy was traveling the shard went through the forward right hoof. McClellan, despite being a confident horseman, was thrown when Baldy came to an abrupt and jerking stop. McClellan would in all probability have been fine if it was not for the fence that ran alongside the road. As McClellan fell the fence caught him in the lower back breaking his spine. Captain Jeremiah O’Connor, one of McClellan’s aids was the first to reach McClellan. McClellan’s first words to O’Connor after realizing that he could not move his legs were “Who will save the Union now?”
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    Major General George McClellan
    Army of the Potomac
    Commander: July 26, 1861-May 13, 1862


    [1] McPherson, Crossroads of Freedom
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  2. Threadmarks: Sumner takes Command and the Death of Stonewall

    Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

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    General Sumner Takes Command

    After being examined, Army surgeon Charles Hoffmann stated what McClellan already knew, that he was paralyzed from the waist down. News quickly spread of McClellan’s incapacitation. The soldiers of the Army of the Potomac were needless to say devastated by the news of their commander's fall especially in the middle of a campaign. When President Lincoln heard the news, Lincoln is reported to have sighed, hung his head, and muttered “the one time the General takes my advice to move quickly he breaks his back.” To many this seems to have come at the worst time while Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was making himself a profound nuisance in the Shenandoah Valley and the Army of the Potomac was tied up on the Virginia Peninsula. Although despite cables from McClellan that he could still command from his HQ, Lincoln and Halleck both agreed that he would need to be evacuated and a new commander appointed.

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    Major General Edwin Sumner

    With only limited discussion they both decided that Brig. General Edwin Vose Sumner, then the commander of the Army of the Potomac’s II Corps, would take command. Sumner was the logical choice being the senior general officer on the Peninsula. When word reached General Sumner of his appointed as commander along with his pending promotion to Major General he remarked “Leave it to General McClellan to hand me a situation like this.” Sumner however, as events would soon prove, more than up to the task

    Meanwhie, the Union was suffering some staggering reverses in the Shenandoah Valley. Confederate Major General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had, with his few thousand troops, been scoring a series of victories against the North since March in an effective effort to divert Union reinforcements from reaching McClellan on the Peninsula. Union forces had been largely unsuccessful in stopping Jackson despite their superior numbers.

    The Death of Stonewall Jackson

    Jackson’ impressive skill and luck did eventually run out. Confederate Major General Richard S. Ewell’s division was ordered to withdraw from the Valley to reinforce Richmond on May 20, 1862. Robert E. Lee pleaded to leave Ewell in the Valley to assist Jackson, but Jefferson Davis ordered Ewell’s redeployment because he believed that with the removal of McClellan a move against the supposedly weekend Army of the Potomac should take priority. Two days later Jackson and the few remaining thousands of his "foot cavalry" were engaged by General Banks’ forces near the city of Strasbourg, Virginia. The battle seemed to be going well for the Confederates until Jackson, who was standing as did “Like a stone wall”, was struck from his horse by a Union bullet to the neck. Jackson bleed out within minutes and the sorrow and confusion surrounding his death led to the Union emerging victorious, capturing the bulk of the late Stonewall’s men.
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    Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
    January 21, 1824-May 22, 1862
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  3. The Doctor Well-Known Member

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    a branch of the multiverse
    Subscribed. An interesting Idea, I never would of thought of. :D
     
  4. Darth_Kiryan The Númenorean Sith

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    Interesting. A good twist on the normal civil war timelines, and already diverged from OTL. Good.

    Subscribed.
     
  5. Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

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    Nov 15, 2009
    Glad ya'll like it. I plan on posting the next installments in a day or two. Thanks for the support.
     
  6. The Doctor Well-Known Member

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    Day or two? Can I wait that long? :D
     
  7. Threadmarks: Sumner Advances

    Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

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    Sumner Advances
    General Sumner upon inheriting command of the Army of the Potomac wasted no time in continuing to drive up the Peninsula towards Richmond. Reports of Stonewall Jackson’s death at Strasbourg, Virginia was welcomed news as this meant that the Union Army of Virginia under Major General John Pope was now free to press the Confederates from the north.

    The Confederates were in a bind. Richmond was in serious danger of becoming encircled with Sumner’s Army of the Potomac advancing up the Peninsular in the east and Pope’s Army of Virginia heading south, placing it in a position to envelope the city and cut Richmond’s supply lines. Furthermore, Southern morale was plummeting and desertions rose as a result of the Yankees advancing ever closer to the Confederate capital in addition to the death of Stonewall Jackson.

    Jefferson Davis along with his military aid General Robert E. Lee met with General Johnston at his headquarters on May 25. Davis, with Lee’s encouragement, felt that Johnston should move offensively against Sumner on the Peninsula. They felt that if the Army of the Potomac suffered a serious reversal it would retreat down the Peninsula allowing Confederate forces to then turn against Pope in the north. Johnston however, largely due to his numerical inferiority, believed in a more defensive strategy. He hoped that Sumner would grind his army to a pulp as the Army of Northern Virginia fell back to Richmond. Johnston also suggested that Ewell’s troops, bolstered by some reinforcements from his own army, could hold Pope’s force in check. Davis for now agreed to Johnston’s defensive strategy but stated that if an opportunity to move against Sumner appeared Johnston should take it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  8. Threadmarks: Battle of the Chickahominy and the Fall of Richmond

    Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

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    Nov 15, 2009
    Battle of the Chickahominy

    The Battle of the Chickahominy, known as the Four Days Battle to the South, started with Major General Sumner leading a general advance against the Confederate defensive positions outside of Richmond on June 1, 1862. Although Johnston had diverted troops to prop up his northern defenses the Confederates managed to hold their works against Union attacks for most of June 1 and 2. On the evening of June 2, in light of apparent Southern success, President Davis ordered Johnston to counterattack the Army of the Potomac in the morning. Although Johnston was wary of switching to the offensive, he realized the significance that a successful attack would have. Historians have also debated whether Johnston feared being relieved by Davis if he refused to attack. On June 3 Johnston ordered a counterattack against the Union’s left flank south of the Chickahominy River. The resulting Confederate attacks pushed the Federal's IV Corp under Brigadier General Erasmus Keyes back almost a mile. However around 4:00 p.m. the Confederate forces, who had suffered heavy casualties, ran out of steam as they encountered Union entrenchments anchored a few hundred yards from the Chickahominy River. By 6:45 p.m. General Johnston was forced to call off the advance.

    On the night of June 3 both sides stopped to mull over the situation. Davis and Johnston were relatively pleased with the day’s results. The Federals had been pushed back and Davis believed that Sumner would atleast withdraw his troops to the north side of the Chickahominy to consolidate his forces. Sumner however, had different plans. Sumner believed, correctly as events would show, that Johnston’s center must have been stretched dangerously thin and that he probably did not expect the North to resume the battle the next day. That night Sumner ordered Brigadier General John Sedgwick’s II Corps to prepare pontoon bridges for use the next morning. At a council of war Sumner convened that night, his generals were surprised to hear that despite the day’s losses the Army of the Potomac would again attack the Confederates who were now exposed outside of their defenses.

    Around 7:30 a.m. on June 4, the Union line exploded by launching one of the heaviest artillery barrages of the war. Within an hour the Union’s left and center were surging against the weakened Confederate lines. The Union’s right under General Porter was also making considerable headway and was threatening to turn the Confederate left. By 1:00 p.m. the Confederate right was in danger of being cut off by Sedgwick’s advance and began a headlong retreat west towards Richmond. The Union continued to advance the rest of the day and although casualties were high on both sides the Confederates, due to their inferior numbers, were forced to fall back to within only a few miles of Richmond itself.

    The Fall of Richmond

    On the night of June 4 President Jefferson Davis was forced to listen to the advice of Johnston and Lee who informed him that Richmond must be abandoned. There decision to evacuate Richmond was also influenced by an erroneous report that Major General Ewell had been defeated by Major General Pope at Gordonsville, Virginia the same day. In reality Pope had been checked by Ewell and had fallen back. Regardless, much of the Confederate governments records and treasury had already been packed and was ordered shipped to Greensboro, North Carolina. Jefferson Davis and most of the other members of the Confederate Government left Richmond in the predawn hours of June 5, 1862.
    The Battle of Richmond was anticlimactic as Confederate forces fighting a regard action moved through the city heading south. Attempts to burn the city to prevent its infrastructure and munitions falling into Yankee hands were only partially successful. Nevertheless several fires destroyed swaths of the city. On the morning of June 6, 1862 Union forces entered the capital of the Confederacy. When the Stars and Stripes was raised over the Virginia Capitol building a Union private yelled to Major General Sumner “If only Little Mac could see us now!”

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    The Virginia State Capitol in Union occupied Richmond
    June 6, 1862​
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  9. Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Hey Guys, wondering if anybody had any speculation or suggestions on the future of this timeline. A few things that I am thinking about for the next installment is
    1. Whether the Confederate Government should stay in Greensboro, North Carolina or move to a different City.
    2. What the Confederates next move should be
    3. How does the fall of Richmond affect the Emancipation Proclamation
    4. Who could possibly be the Southern leader of a Confederate peace movement.
    Any Help would be greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2010
  10. Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

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    Nov 15, 2009
    Went back and added some pictures to flesh out the timeline. The next installment is coming soon. cheers.
     
  11. hzn5pk Well-Known Member

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    May 28, 2008
    Too bad Jackson had to go. Too bad he could not have faked a withdraw from the Valley to lure Pope into thinking that it was safe to target Richmond. Jackson does a lightning turn around and heads for washington as Pope and Summner converge on Richmond.

    So Richmond falls to the Union and Washington, DC falls to the Confederacy (Jackson). That would be a cool coincidence.

    The South would hurt more by the loss of Richmond as it was an Indistrial base as well.

    Jackson would have to make a decision to withdraw from Washington as forces Union forces approached liberate Washington or surrender. For arguments sake, say that he cannot cross the Potomic and is forced to surrender. The Union holds Richmond and Petersburg and then Summner swings to the Valley as Pope goes straight North to relieve Washington and trap Jackson.

    In this Sumner takes Richmond, Jackson dies scenerio, what is the status out West? Is the Union still conquering the rivers?
     
  12. DuQuense Commisioned Officer CSN

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    Florida ,CSA
    probably move back to Montgomery.
    Surrender:D:D:p
    This is ~6 weeks before Lincoln first discussed the possibility with his Cabinet. My guess is no EP.
    However whe may get an earlier 13th Amendment, thro it wouldn't be worded exactly the same.
    Lee:eek:;)
     
  13. Nytram01 Well-Known Member

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    I dont see why not. The POD comes during the Peninsula Campaign and by that time Shiloh has already been fought and Beauregard will be forced from Corinth at almost the exact same time Johnston was wounded in reality so the wheels are very much in motion out west for the OTL scenario before this POD kicks in.

    To be honest though, I do have some reservations about plausability in some places but I'm somewhat reluctant to say what they are as it seems clear a lot of thought has gone into this timeline and I dont want to ruin it.

    However, on a side note, the Confederate Government would not have retreated out of Virginia entirely following the lost of Richmond but would have gone to Danville - just as they did in OTL in 1865 - unless they were forced from there as well.
     
  14. Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

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    umm, well I guess that would be interesting if you wanted to write your own TL about it. However, as has been discussed in other forums a Confederate capture of Washington is pretty much the Civil War equivalent of Operation Sea Lion and there is no way that Jackson would be able to pull it off with the forces he had at his disposal.

    The Western Theater will be discussed in an upcoming installment.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2010
  15. Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

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    Nov 15, 2009

    Thanks for reading. Please feel free to discuss any reservations you might have. Plausibility is a major goal of mine in the timeline.

    I am not sure that Danville would be the best choice. They went there in OTL because almost every other place was in Union hands. Danville, I think, is also to small to house the Confederate Government. However, I am going to have Jefferson Davis stay in Virginia to oversee his generals.

     
  16. benjamin In an ALT...I'm Spartacus!

    1. Atlanta was much discussed as a possible location for the Confederate government. Montgomery was already disliked because it lacked proper amenities and accommodations. With the fall of Richmond it would probably be seen as unwise to keep the capital close to the front.

    2. Sit tight and fight a defensive battle until the army can be repaired. The CS Army won't have that air of invincibility that they carried in OTL until Gettysburg, so they will probably fight more defensively. Though with Lee in charge you never know.

    3. Every one knew the war came because of slavery. Once fighting began slavery was on the way out. Lincoln knew this and would have worked towards emancipation, probably a gradual emancipation. Conservative Democrats would have opposed him but the writing was on the wall.

    4. Sam Houston comes to mind. He was well respected and had warned against secession. There were others as well but I'd have to look them up.

    Good timeline so far.
    Benjamin
     
  17. SilverSwimmer Well-Known Member

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    Oct 4, 2009
    Very cool TL. I love timelines that have the South losing quicker :p
     
  18. Nytram01 Well-Known Member

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    Its not a matter of, you know, strategy or practicality where the Confederate Government goes but a matter of prestiege. Being driven from Richmond in 1862 is a major blow to prestiege and the pride of Davis in particular would never have let him abandon Virginia unless he was driven from it. Admittedly, Danville isn't ideal as it is a small place, but its still in Virginia and that's important - if the Confederacy cannot keep its Government in Virginia for less than a year then it will never have any chance of foreign recognition for its soveriegnty.

    My main problems for plausability is Edwin Vose Sumner. The only time we can judge his abilities to organize an Army in battle in is Williamsburg as he became the defacto commander there and that battle was a confused muddle for the Union. Sumner, admittedly showed a good level of ability as a Corps commander but that is no guarentee of his compitence as an army commander - after all Burnside and Longstreet were great Corps commanders but Burnside was a disaster as an Army Commander and Longstreet showed a complete lack of drive in independent command. Though I'm not entirely convinced on this matter I am prepared to overlook this because although there is no evidence to suggest he would have been a good Army commander there is no evidence to suggest he would have been a bad one either.

    Also, I'm kind of inclinded to dissagree with your assessment of Joe Johnston thus far but that's because I'm a Johnston partisan.

    I will point out that, now that Richmond has fallen, Johnston will be calling for concentration of manpower more than he ever did and there is likely to be another debate between Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, George W. Randolph (Secretary of War) and Johnston on the subject of future operations in the East - so it will be worth mentioning that.
     
  19. Mac Gregor Well-Known Member

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    Valid comments. I am going to post the next installment soon and would like to know what you think the chances of Johnston getting relieved are seeing how Richmond has fallen?
     
  20. mrmandias Regent

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    The Great Empty
    I agree that being driven from Richmond is a major blow to prestige, but Idisagree that going to Danville does anything to recover or preserve that prestige.

    I think the confederate government stays in Virginia only if they are actively pursuing the recovery of Richmond (which they are likely to do, of course). I predict that whichever General offers a bold plan for the near term recovery of Richmond is the General who comes out on top of the Confederate strategy debate.
     
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