Through the Endless Grey: An Alternate TL-191

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Tsar of New Zealand, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. Historyman 14 Well-Known Member

    Sep 27, 2013
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  2. Tsar of New Zealand Back in Black (and Red and Green) Donor

    Apr 23, 2013
    The Up-and-Up
    IV. Settling Accounts

    Kemptville, Ontario
    October 1, 1915

    A harsh northwester whistled across the Rideau River, across the first patchy snows of the harsh Canadian winder and straight through the greatcoat of Abner Dowling. His not-inconsiderable bulk shivered inside the motorcar, parked with the rest of the U.S. Army retinue in the waste land outside the aptly-named well-kept hamlet, a few miles behind the Canadian side of the lines.

    Surreptitiously rubbing his hands to keep them warm, Dowling considered the other occupants of the automobile, a grandiose British Rolls-Royce which had been requisitioned during the advance towards the St Lawrence.

    Of course, the only other person worth mentioning – alright, the only person worth mentioning; Dowling knew he was going to go down in the history books, if at all, as a hapless aide – in the car was General Custer, who wasn’t even trying to contain his unbridled glee at the situation they found themselves in.

    “Thirty-five years!” he cackled to anyone who’d listen (invariably, this meant Dowling). “Thirty-five years I’ve been waiting to get the damned Canucks back for Tom and Montana, and I finally did it!”

    The General’s crowing, Dowling thought, was ever so reminiscent of a turkey buzzard; a red nose protruding over a bushy moustache, below the beady eyes which peeped out from underneath the thinning, peroxided locks of hair the antique soldier retained. That he croaked and squawked like a geriatric chicken didn’t help matters any – if it weren’t so hard to maintain his sanity whilst serving under Custer, he might have trouble refraining from bursting into laughter.

    Not that this wasn’t an occasion for laughter, or a frenzied grin of joy at least. Custer’s strategy of throwing men at a problem to make it go away had actually served the United States well in the north, with the early successes at Drummondville and Fredericton knocking the limeys for a loop they hadn’t really ever recovered from. The spring campaign had secured Winnipeg after a siege which, if brief by the standards of Kentucky or Maryland, was still brutal enough to slow the Union for a month or so. Then Quebec had fallen, and one after another the linchpins of Canadian resistance had slipped from their grasp and fallen to the green-grey tide from the south. It had taken a lot of casualties – a lot of casualties – on the American side, but the advance into Ontario from the South and the prodding at the hornet’s nest of Quebec had prevented the Canadians from being able to free up the men to do anything at all to stop the west wing of Fourth Army from neatly bagging everything west of Sudbury by the end of summer proper.

    And then Montreal. Dear God Almighty, Montreal. Never one to settle for half a loaf when there was a whole one (or even when there was only half of one), Custer had pointed the fresh-faced boys from Massachusetts and Maine at the city and said “Go!” A month of brutal fighting, the worst, they said, the war had seen so far, with new-fangled innovations like bomber aeroplanes and poison gas and handflams thrown into the mix, had finally yielded the richest prize the Union had taken this side of Louisville.

    And the Canadians, being a people who could see the writing on the wall when it was written, had thrown in the towel.

    The train car, where the negotiations were to take place, was a Pullman which had evidently been interned when the war broke out, a little over a year ago now. The yellow press would have a field day with that one, he thought, the Canucks rendering back unto Caesar what was Caesar’s. It certainly brightened Custer’s day, from the way he stepped out of the auto and plumped his chest and sucked in his paunch and stuck out his jaw like a dyspeptic bulldog.

    “Well, then,” he declared with even more grandiosity than usual, “let’s let the damn Canucks know who hit them.”

    “Sir,” Dowling said deferentially as the old warhorse stumped his way towards the carriage.

    Aside from the American and Canadian delegations, the carriage was bare save for a table and about two dozen chairs. Behind one of them the Canadian Prime Minister, Borden, stood with a face like a mournful beagle. Dowling couldn’t really blame him for that, especially as Custer continued to twist the knife of his very presence.

    “Your situation, Prime Minister” he sneered the words, turning a title into an insult, “is all but hopeless. We’ve got you on the run in the west, Vancouver and Halifax are under siege, and Toronto is one breakthrough away from my army. All that’s left for you to do,” he added triumphantly “is to sign the dotted line.”

    Well, thought Dowling, at least he didn’t say ‘I’ve’ got you on the run. Custer had tended, in the past, to conflate his army’s achievements with his own. Strangest thing was, for all that the soldiers under his command were so much grist to his mill, they seemed to love ‘Grandad George.’ Well, beggars can’t be choosers. Speaking of which…

    “You’re not a diplomat, are you, General?” Borden said sardonically. Custer snorted.

    “A diplomat? Sir, you’d do me a disservice if you were to call me that. I’m a fighting man, through and through, and the way I see it, I just fought you into the dirt.”

    Borden closed his eyes and sighed.

    “What do you ask of us, Custer?”

    “Surrender. Unconditional surrender, effective immediately, the cessation of hostilities at land and sea, and the surrender of your weapons and uniformed forces.”

    The Canadian’s eyes snapped back open, and the rest of his delegation took on varying degrees of hostile expressions. Dowling cocked an eyebrow from his place in the corner. What did they expect, a hug and a kiss? If they thought ‘negotiation’ with the old bastard meant anything but surrender, they’re in for a hard lesson or two.

    And what an education they were soon to get.

    From Bloom, L., et al., The Lamps Gone Out: A History of the Great War (New York: Stepford House, 1992).

    Canada’s Uncertain Years: The Surrender and The Occupation, 1915-1920.

    …protracted negotiations which had been hoped for failed to materialise, with the prospect of forcing the Americans into a fait accompli as winter approached rapidly diminishing. Even the Royal Navy maintained its stream of supplies to Halifax, with the Battle of Grand Banks blunting the Atlantic Fleet’s ability to force a conclusion in the Maritime Front for the rest of the year in the foul weather of the North Atlantic, the facts on the ground west of Nova Scotia made the outcome inevitable, especially given what was soon discovered about the typhus outbreak…

    …in spite of Custer’s impatience for diplomacy, or perhaps thanks to it, Canada’s Instrument of Surrender was signed on October 5, 1915, and represented nothing less than the complete subjugation of the Dominion of Canada to the will of the United States. Pending a final peace settlement with Britain, Canada was to be placed under an interim military administration headquartered in Winnipeg, which had been thoroughly and aggressively pacified in the preceding six months…

    …Custer’s joy was to be short-lived; Roosevelt had other tasks at hand towards which Custer could be put to use. And so it was, as snow blanketed the North, that Custer and Fourth Army were soon headed south to Kentucky, where they would find gainful employment in 1916…

    The Treaty of Boston

    Signed in the presence of a sizable crowd of American and British representatives, the final peace between Britain and the Union could be generously described as an attempt to trade their relative disadvantages to make sure each ended up relatively better off than before. And indeed, the final settlement vindicated – especially in the political climate of Remembrance – the popular image of the British as having got away scot-free. Nevertheless, the pills London was forced to swallow in its unenviable position – with the population on something around 1,900 calories per day on average and major industrial centres like Sheffield and Glasgow seeing radical Socialist unrest as the Germans maintained their grinding advance towards the English Channel – were bitter indeed…

    …while Roosevelt was loath to leave his German allies in the lurch, he was increasingly compelled by public opinion to secure a decisive end to conflict as the armistice with the Confederates blossomed into a crushing peace settlement over the winter of 1916…

    …his personal dedication remained strong, however, as did his sense of geopolitics. The Germans had been the only ally available to the US after the Second Mexican War, and it would be an almost unthinkable act of selfishness, after two years of fighting and dying alongside the Germans on the high seas, to leave them to face Britain alone. Furthermore, Roosevelt was able to turn the potential weakness of prolonging the war into a strength thanks to the Remembrance ideology. The mantra of “getting the job done” characterised American involvement in the Great War during 1917, with the prospect of humiliating the British as they had twice shamed the Union…

    …Battle of the Canaries, but also the French capitulation, demonstrated to Roosevelt that the time was now ripe to call an end to things. London’s pleas for an armistice were eagerly accepted, and a delegation headed by Balfour dispatched across the Atlantic on a Spanish freighter…

    …terms were not dictated as they were in Trenton. Instead, the Union and United Kingdom engaged in genuine diplomacy, trading their possessions and gains and losses to achieve what each found an acceptable outcome – though of course, the fact remained that the British had little hope of plausibly returning to war with all of its allies now out of the fight, and Ireland’s slow-burning rebellion now escalating into a fully-fledged campaign of terrorism and armed insurrection...

    The terms of the treaty included the following provisions:

    · The Dominion of Canada to be dissolved, and all British claims to sovereignty over territories held under that title as of June 28, 1914 to be relinquished in perpetuity.

    · The Republic of Quebec to be officially recognised by the United Kingdom, occupying the pre-war boundaries of the Province of Quebec and a portion of the former Rupertsland stretching from the northern border to the Arctic Ocean [1].

    · The Republic of Ireland is recognised, constituting 28 of the 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The remaining four (Derry, Antrim, Down, Armagh) are to have their fate decided by plebiscite no later than December 28, 1917. All four will decide to remain part of the UK – which defiantly retains the title of the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” – after the Republic descends into internecine conflict later that year.

    · The island of Ireland to be demilitarised by both the UK and the Vienna Pact to an extent required for peacekeeping; only the Army of the Republic of Ireland is to be permitted forces exceeding 10,000 in each of the main service branches. As the situation worsens into the early 1920s, this provision will be alternatively slackened and tightened as circumstances fluctuate.

    · The Republic of Canada to be formed from the Provinces of British Columbia (henceforth to be renamed Columbia), Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba [2], and Ontario, with its capital to be at Regina [3].
    - The British Crown is to sever all constitutional ties with the Republic and vice versa, with trade to be regulated through an office under the oversight of the US Government, particularly the US Revenue Service [4].
    - The Republic will have a bicameral legislature made up of a Senate and House of Commons operating under a semi-presidential system, with the head of government retaining his title of Prime Minister and the head of state to be styled as Governor-General.
    - The Republic will not enter into any alliances with foreign powers, but the US will maintain a Resident-General in Regina to advise the Governor-General on policy issues.
    - The United States will occupy a border strip thirty miles deep along the border with the Russian Empire for a period of five years, after which it will merely administer border crossings under the provisions made for the Revenue Service.
    - The United States will occupy Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands (which Philadelphia will refer to in its subsequent administration as the ‘Washington Isles’), ostensibly to help prevent smuggling from Russian America, for a period of ten years, after which the US will be entitled to basing rights at Victoria and on the Queen Charlotte Islands.

    · The erstwhile Northwest Territories of Canada to be annexed by the United States [5].

    · The Dominion of Newfoundland to be ceded by the United Kingdom in perpetuity and annexed by the United States, which will be administered alongside the Northwest Territories as unincorporated unorganised territories under military occupation for however long the United States Government sees fit.

    · The retrocession of Northern Maine – also known as Aroostok Country – from New Brunswick to Maine, restoring the pre-1882 border.

    · The Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island to be annexed by the United States as unincorporated organised territories under military administration for no more than fifteen years, in preparation for incorporation and eventual statehood.

    · Cession of the Sandwich Islands, Bermuda, the Bahama Islands, and the British Virgin Islands to the United States, to be administered as unorganized unincorporated territories.

    · Rights of free transit for the United States through Britain’s remaining maritime territories in the Western Hemisphere, and duty-free docking rights for US-flagged vessels at any harbour administered by the British.

    · The United Kingdom to pay an indemnity of one billion pounds in specie or goods – crucially, and in stark contrast to the Confederate terms, this figure was not adjusted for inflation – in return for damages incurred to US property, including compensation for war widows, lost vessels, and occupation costs. The US accepted various forms of payment: cast-off Royal Navy vessels, including a few frigates and merchant marine vessels interned at Halifax, Boston, and New York, as well as payment in the form of real estate and business holdings in the US. This payment was comparatively lean, especially in light of the inflation suffered by the pound upon the onset of peace.

    The terms were far less harsh than those imposed upon the Confederacy – public opinion did not, for a start, demand the same doggedness in pursuing war aims against the British as against the CSA – but were still sufficient to satisfy the demands for an imposition of a proportionate humiliation on the British to that imposed on the Union in 1882. Furthermore, they also permitted Roosevelt to present to the public sufficient war gains to justify the losses of the past three years, with the annexation (de jure and de facto) of several million square miles of territory in Canada an effective counter to the complaints of those (General Custer amongst them) who complained that the gains against the Confederacy did not adequately reflect the sacrifices.

    George Armstrong Custer would be appointed as the first Resident-General of Canada, as well as commanding the garrisons across the former Dominion. The General was notorious for his lack of tact in dealing with the Republic’s first Governor-General, Robert Borden, who would ascend to the quasi-Presidential position pending the Republic’s first Gubernatorial election in 1918…

    …premiership of Bonar Law, beginning with the National Conservatives’ victory in the multifaceted election of 1917, saw the rise of a man motivated by the death of his homeland to seek vengeance – or at least retribution – against the Vienna Pact in whatever ways he could. But Britain and the fractured Entente were now too weak to fight them directly; it remained instead to undermine them at the peripheries of their power…

    [1] ITTL, what is OTL’s Northern Quebec was not apportioned to the Province in 1912. Here it happens later, mainly to save the Americans from garrisoning a barren subpolar wasteland.

    [2] It bears mention here if anywhere that TTL’s Manitoba is larger than OTL, having won the Keewatin Dispute and established a dead-straight north-south eastern border along the 90th meridian west.

    [3] The US toyed with renaming the ‘monarchical’ name, but decided that the other past name of the area, ‘Pile-of-Bones,’ was a little too on-the-nose.

    [4] Renamed from the Revenue Cutter Service in 1886 as it shifted its focus to halting illegal transport of goods across the Union-Confederate border, particularly human trafficking of blacks. It has, by 1917, effectively taken up the role of monitoring the US’ land borders, though the Immigration Service retains responsibility for screening immigrants and administering visas and passports at land and sea borders. It’s only about as complicated as OTL’s measures at the time, though TTL’s US is a little less shy about trampling states’ rights in the interests of smoothly-running federal agencies.

    [5] Includes the Yukon ITTL, there not having been any gold rushes in the area. Yet.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  3. scourge Californian Patriot

    Oct 19, 2007
    Creating a rump Republic of Canada and annexing the other parts along with New Foundland with a puppet Republic of Quebec is more realistic than what Turtledove did.
    Historyman 14 likes this.
  4. bguy Donor

    Jun 22, 2008
    What happened with the Sandwich Islands? Does Britain still hold them?
    scourge likes this.
  5. Tsar of New Zealand Back in Black (and Red and Green) Donor

    Apr 23, 2013
    The Up-and-Up
    Whoops, edited :biggrin:
  6. scourge Californian Patriot

    Oct 19, 2007
    Are you gonna cover the Mormons too? It'll be interesting what you come up with concerning them. It also seems that US will have revanchist Canada to deal with along with a seemingly divided, but revanchist CSA.
  7. RamscoopRaider Some Sort of Were-Orca, probably an Akhlut Donor

    Aug 9, 2011
    Newtown, CT
    Glad my TL inspired things (currently planning a reboot), but need to point a few things out

    One is 187 Divisions is too many for the CSA, that's about 2/3rds Germany's WWI total on 1/3rd the Population. Remember the whole army isn't organized in Divisions, only about 1/3rd would be in WWI era (rest would be Corps, Army and Army Group level troops plus support functions). 100-120 is realistic, that implies a peak of about 3 million troops

    Also the Frigate is not a ship class at this point in time, save for Sail powered leftovers from the 19th Century, it was reinvented by the British in WWII. Sloop is the comparable class, as in not a destroyer but larger than a gunboat, mostly used for blue water minesweeping

    Also wouldn't have done the treaty with Canada that way. BC, AB and SK have less than 1.5 million people at this point in time, that's manageable given the scale of WWI era population transfers, and without them, or Alaska, your Northwest territories are cut off from the US mainland. Still your TL, this I am just pointing out
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  8. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    Your Antipodean and Imperial Majesty, please allow me to compliment you upon adding another fine article - I look forward to reading more of your work on this topic with considerable enthusiasm, mostly because of its sheer quality but partly because I'm very interested in playing "Spot the Difference" where our visions of a CS Civil War differ!;)

    I am particularly fond of this particular entry in the series - despite an ample freighting of content distinctly horrifying to any Briton with a fondness for Canada! - in great part because sending Custer into action against the Great White North just as soon as the Guns of August begin to sound in 1914 has to be one of the most plausible Points of Divergence given in the series (for the record I tend to see denying the General his chance at Vengeance as more a bonus, rather than the driving motivation for President Roosevelt and I do tend to believe it was the War Department who sent him into Kentucky); in a nutshell Custer is victim of his own carefully-cultivated reputation and Canada the beneficiary of US overconfidence where their Northern neighbour is concerned - quite bluntly George Armstrong Custer is too senior a commander and too famous an American Hero to be given a minor command, while the Top Brass don't anticipate that Canada merits a major commitment (given that it is manifestly weaker than the US) and so prefer to employ General George Armstrong Custer in action against the Confederate States ... much to his consistent outrage.

    The fact that any US Army with Custer at its head is going to launch itself into the underbelly of the CSA then chew its way to the backbone (all the better to crack that spine between its metaphorical teeth) come Hell, High Water or bloodshed fit to shame a tidal bore in scale (while his troops probably WOULD call him Grandpa George I suspect that his Socialist "admirers" probably call him The Glutton in less than complimentary style - forgetting or indifferent to the fact that an ageing glutton is still a Wolverine).

    In all honesty while I agree that this approach is better thought-out it seems easy enough to imagine why the USA might go another way (as they did in the novels); quite frankly I suspect that the North put a heck of a lot more thought into how they could Conquer and Subdue the Confederate States than they did Canada (the latter would be easy given the disparity of numbers even after sufficient troops had been sent South to tangle with Cousin Johnny). Then, as usual when it comes to US invasions of British North America, things failed to go exactly according to plan.

    Three years later (at least in the T-191 canon) the North has only just managed to seize the settled parts of Canada and the South, in the main, remains obstinately unconquered in the main (and so large that the Barrel Roll offensives are likely to run out of steam at some point, if only because the lines of supply stretch so thin that they snap) not least because the Great White North has required far greater investment of Men & Material than previously expected - under those circumstances I can imagine the Roosevelt Administration determining to retain direct control over formerly Canadian territory as a way of pointing to a Real Achievement ("Hey, we conquered Canada and we're gonna make it America!"), with American distrust of the Canadian People & Politicians winning out over any belief that they can be allowed to run their own Puppet State.

    Hence the ongoing Military Occupation, although I sincerely doubt that this was the Status Quo TR intended to stick with - unfortunately for him (and for Occupied Canada) he had other demands on his time and he was respectfully ejected from the Highest Office before he could clarify his intentions towards Canada (please also remember that Conquering and Subduing a hostile population of comparable technological development is a brand-new experience for the United States at this point, explaining a good deal of the clumsy handling involved), leaving the Socialists with an ideologically-troublesome situation that is swiftly cemented as the Status Quo when the Canadian Uprising breaks out even as the Sinclair Administration is still trying to determine just how the heck a Presidential Administration WORKS.

    Suffice it to say "Repression" became the order of the day and unfortunately seem to have locked into place as the Status Quo owing to successive US Governments being distracted by Japanese Aggression, Entente Rearmament and Total War with the Confederates (not to mention continued Terrorism on the part of Canadian Tories).

    So while I do agree that the whole business is something of a botch, I cannot call this tragic sequence of aggression, repression and subversion unrealistic; the consequences of a very similar sequence of events continues to play out even as I type this and one does not think I need tell you Where.
    Historyman 14 likes this.
  9. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    That would, I suspect, make for interesting reading! (though might I please ask why you intend to reboot that Thread, rather than simply pick up where you left off?).
  10. RamscoopRaider Some Sort of Were-Orca, probably an Akhlut Donor

    Aug 9, 2011
    Newtown, CT
    Thread got locked, realize I made some errors, and that doing things a bit differently would be more plausible and more fun for me

    Really though the major changes were all in my notes that never reached the main TL. I did make a few mess ups RE the equipment IMO

    Lots of it is the nitty gritty stuff, I'm more of a hardware guy the EoNZ here is, so his TL looks like I might find the politics part interesting
  11. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    Well if you want a second opinion on your re-write of Timeline-191 before posting it then please strike up a Private Conversation with me at your convenience; I would be happy to help if I can (one must admit to a nursing the private ambition of creating a sort of internally-coherent T-191 Multiverse or at least of seeding as many recurring references as possible into each version of that Timeline).:)
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  12. Tsar of New Zealand Back in Black (and Red and Green) Donor

    Apr 23, 2013
    The Up-and-Up
    I thought so, anyway. After all, far more cost-effective to make the Canadians pay the costs of their occupation without giving them an occupation force to shoot at.

    Revanchism is awful hard when you've been essentially demilitarised - oh, the CSA can get up to shenanigans, but Canada is being watched by the US like a hawk. Canada officially has no armed forces, only Mounted Police for the harder cases and civilian law enforcement for everything else. 'Disarmament' here means disarmament.

    Regarding the Mormons, I'm leaning strongly towards them settling down after the 1881 crackdown - or maybe butterflying it away altogether - and having the state admitted sometime around 1900. While Chechnya-in-America is a fun analogue, it seems a little too implausible. I'm open to suggestions, but I imagine Utah as a solidly Democratic state which is loyal to the US.

    Hmm, good points. I've done a couple of quick edits. If I were to offer an excuse, I'd say it's the author ITTL conflating military terms for his audience - but that'd be awful lazy of me ;) Plus, easier to admit my ignorance than scramble to defend it.

    Re: the NWT, the US isn't really sure what to do with the area. Hell, it's not even sure it wants it; occupation is just a means of pre-empting the British or (ha!) the Russians.

    Next update will be either:
    - The Red Rebellions, 1916-18; or
    - The Confederate and Union Censuses, 1920, with House and Electoral reapportionments.
    I've also got the 1921 election more than halfway done, featuring Roger Kimball.
    Alexander North and scourge like this.
  13. CT23 Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2006
    What did the settlement with Germany and the rest of Europe look like? Was it similar to TL-191?
  14. Tsar of New Zealand Back in Black (and Red and Green) Donor

    Apr 23, 2013
    The Up-and-Up
    So I got distracted with a different idea and made a bit of a time skip. I'll work on the Red Rebellions (Scipio and the Colletons need to make an appearance sooner or later) and Mexico (Jeff Pinkard)...sooner or later.

    V. For a Minute There, I Lost Myself

    Charleston, South Carolina
    November 2, 1921

    “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”

    “Fea-ther-ston! Fea-ther-ston! Fea-ther-ston!”

    “Down with the Yankees! Down with the Yankees!”

    Roger Kimball shouted the slogans alongside the rest of his white-and-butternut-wearing brothers in arms as they marched along Calhoun. They’d started at White Point and headed due north along Meeting before turning left onto Calhoun. Now, as the leader of the procession, Kimball nudged Ernie the signaller, who raised his arms to indicate a right wheel up Ashley.

    Close on nine hundred men – and more than a few women, which wasn't unheard of – moved with a coordination that told of where the vast majority of them had been employed five years ago.

    The couple dozen cops who’d had the presence of mind to follow the column of Freedom Partiers were outclassed, brushed aside and forced to tag along after the procession like lost puppies. One of them, braver or stupider than his fellows, trotted along just above the marching pace of the column to address Kimball directly.

    “What the hell do you gennelmen intend to do?” asked the grey figure with furrowed brow, sizing up the billy clubs and bayonets and pistols of the marchers as he nervously fiddled with his own six-shooter. Roger levelled his gaze at him, scarcely breaking from his chant to calmly address the officer.

    “Why, to have a talk with those folks up yonder,” he replied. “In the spirit of democracy,” he added with a smirk, eyes glinting with malicious intent in the streetlights. The cop had little to say to that, and returned to the knot of his colleagues in grey for safety.

    Roger’s grin was predatory as he saw the searchlights beaming into the air ahead. The Rad Libs had been damn quick to cotton on to the idea of illuminating their rallies after Anne Colleton got the Freedom Party to advertise its presence by doing the same. That just made it all the easier for the Freedom marchers to draw in on them.

    The half-light was more than enough for Kimball and his comrades to observe the crowd (which, Roger begrudgingly admitted to himself, was a little over half the size of the Freedom Party’s rally last month) gathered in front of the stage where the nigger-loving, Yankee-kissing, Red-baiting traitor sang his high-pitched schoolboy song. As he spoke, the Freedom Party men gathered with military discipline in ranks. The plan had been hammered into everyone before they left Party HQ: nobody to say a damn word before Roger gave the go-ahead. In the meantime, Layne’s warbling bullshit served to get their dander up just fine.

    “…out of hand the violence and hatred of Featherston. I put it to you, Charleston, cradle of our proud and great land, that there is an illness in our country. An illness of which the Freedom Party is but the most severe symptom so far, an illness which turns brother against brother and threatens to tear us apart in an orgy of bloodletting at a time when what we need is…”

    “Peace!” came the shout from the crowd. “Reconciliation!”

    “Yes! Peace and reconciliation! The road ahead is a hard one, but we must and shall cure this illness…”

    Roger snorted and rolled his eyes, turning to the men arranged behind him.

    “Seems the Yankee-lover feels poorly,” he said with a raised voice which turned a few heads in the crowd near them. “How’s about we give him a dose of our medicine, boys?”

    “Freedom!” came the roar from forty score mouths, interrupting Layne’s amplified voice with a piercing spear of sound. “Freedom!” they bellowed again as they stormed forwards, charging into the crowd.

    The melee erupted predictably, with the discipline of the Freedom marchers – Stalwarts, Roger’d heard them called, even if he thought it was a weak name – showing as they came up against the bully boys the Rattlers [2] had picketed around their little picnic just how outmatched and, Kimball thought, outclassed they were.

    “For God’s sake!” cried Layne as the panic spread through the crowd. “Let us have peace!”

    If the Radical Liberals wanted peace, they did a supremely poor job of showing it.. Say what you like for the Red bastards, he thought as he swung his club and connected with flesh and bone, they go down harder than Whigs. As the Rad Lib he’d hit fell to the ground with a shout, he laughed and swung a boot into the man while he was down. Something cracked, and Roger trod on him as he moved on. Break plenty easy, though.

    The rank of Rad Libs was enough to ward off the first rank of Freedomites, and if it had only been, say, two hundred instead of nine, they might have been able to blunt the offensive. As it happened, the surge Roger led was more than able to break them entirely, and set about making for the stage. Straight out of the manual they’d been playing from all fall, really.

    And everything went pretty textbook – enemy defends, Party attacks, enemy is crushed, Party advances – until Roger, turning to break a Rad Lib’s arm and smash his nose in by headbutting him with his tin hat, heard three shots ring out behind him. The screams grew even louder, and as Roger glanced at the stage and noticed that Layne had finally shut up, a horrifying thought dawned upon him. As his eyes regained focus and saw the candidate falling clumsily backwards, arms spinning out every which way, it was confirmed and amplified.

    “What the fuck did you just do?” roared Kimball, spinning on his heel to face the man behind him as chaos broke out completely. The man – Kimball thought it might be one of the veterans, a younger fellow named Baines – clutched his pistol in whitening knuckles, grin slipping from his face as Roger’s own face contorted in sheer fury.

    “You said we was here to teach the nigger-lovers a less-”

    “You Goddamn shit-brained mule-fucker! Do you have any idea what you just did?”

    The shooter – fuck, was he an assassin now? – scrambled to find his words as one of Roger’s lieutenants, a Navy man named Osmond Ingram, grabbed his shoulder.

    “Skipper, we gotta go,” he said with blood running from a gash on his forehead and a split lip. “The police are already shootin’ and somebody been hollerin’ ‘bout the millies [1] bein’ called up.”

    Roger nodded and made to snarl at Baines, but he’d already started moving off through the crowd. Shots were ringing out left and right now, screams punctuating the still, cool night.

    “Fuck it, let’s get outta here,” Kimball said, shaking his head. The Party had overstepped its bounds in the battle here today. Hopefully, it wouldn’t lose them the war.

    From Perrin, R., The Rise and Fall of the Freedom Party. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.

    The Assassination of Ainsworth Layne

    Ainsworth Layne, 1877-1921 [3]​

    “Man’s a martyr to his own Goddamned principles.”

    - Burton Mitchel III
    Vice-President of the CSA, 1921-19██ [4]

    One fact needs to be made abundantly clear before engaging in any kind of serious discussion on the ill-fated leader of the Radical Liberals: Ainsworth Layne was never going to win the Presidency, despite the fair showing the Rad Libs had made in 1915. For it is often overlooked that prior to his assassination, the party was coming a very distant third to both the Whigs and Freedom, with his message of “Peace and Reconciliation” falling flat in a country which was suffering under heretofore unknown privations at the hands of their Northern adversaries in what the Harvard-educated candidate euphemistically referred to as “the late unpleasantness.”

    It would be unfair, however, to claim that Layne was only ever of any significance as a martyr. A lawyer from Arkansas, he brought to the Radical Liberals an exemplar of the upwardly-mobile self-made man the Party presented itself as the vanguard of…

    …organised violence was nothing new in the campaign; several had already been brutally injured or outright killed, especially in clashes between Radical Liberal and Freedom, but with the Whigs (as the governing party and thus party of defeat) drawing plenty of ire themselves. Before Charleston, the bloodiest fight had come early in the campaign in an August rally in Dallas, where the woefully underprepared Whigs, having a scant few dozen men armed with clubs, were charged by a Redemption League squad which found itself barely bloodily repulsed by a gathering galvanised by the presence of the Vice-Presidential candidate Burton Mitchel, who had allegedly shouted callous (and, according to primary sources, extremely vulgar) defiance at Willy Knight’s followers whilst brandishing his pistol and exhorting the Whigs to “make ‘em bleed for it.” While this had the effect of making Mitchel something of a folk hero for the Whigs, it didn’t suffice to overcome the damage fifty years of single-party dominance had done to the Whigs’ ability to campaign effectively. Constantly on the back foot as President Semmes remained impotent in the face of an economy hitting rock bottom, the Whigs ceded more and more ground to the Freedom Party-Redemption League alliance as summer turned into fall, to the point that a Featherston victory looked inevitable.

    And then, less than a week from the election, the Charleston branch of the Freedom Party got greedy. Marching against the last major opposition rally in the state before the election, the clash spun wildly out of control, with a disgruntled Freedom Party member, William Baines, firing three shots at Ainsworth Layne as he stood on the stage and implored the audience to calm down. The event constituted the first successful assassination of a Presidential candidate in either the Union or Confederacy. [5]

    The after-effects were predictable. In the immediate term, Charleston briefly descended into anarchy, with the police chief (like many other older civil servants, a staunch Whig) ordering the entire Police Department out on the streets to suppress anticipated rioting and the Mayor calling in the local State Militia contingent to reinforce them. But it was the Citadel, Charleston’s prestigious military school and alma mater of many a Whig military scion, which stole the spotlight as Superintendent Colonel Bond ordered more than two hundred of his cadets – many armed with blank ammunition in real rifles – across the two hundred yards between the Citadel and Hampton Park to quickly cordon off the area and detain those suspected of causing trouble...organiser and war hero Roger Kimball [6] found himself briefly detained in that initial rush, but was later released without charge when Baines’s body was retrieved by Citadel cadets and Kimball, among others, testified to his role in the assassination…

    …Stalwarts melted away into the night, with sporadic violence continuing until before dawn, by which time the news was spreading across the Confederacy. From Guaymas to Norfolk, the word was out: The Freedom Party had killed one of the candidates. Who, many asked, could vote for such people?

    As it transpired, a surprisingly large number; approximately thirty-nine percent of the population to the Whigs’ forty-three and the Radical Liberals’ seventeen. In the manifold retellings and analyses of the election which have followed, it has been debated whether Ainsworth Layne did in fact prevent Featherston from winning in 1921. And while it may be argued that the swing away from the Freedom Party in the last six days of campaigning was insufficient to warrant the credit many have given the assassination for the survival of the Whigs in that election, it is hard to deny that their narrowly-won victory enabled them to prove themselves, at least in the interim, the only party which could offer the ‘return to normality’ Hampton campaigned on, an image which would be crucial to their prospects for the rest of the decade and beyond.

    It would also, however, be a watershed for the Radical Liberals. Peace and Reconciliation, it was argued, had demonstrably failed, no matter how nobly. If Featherston was to be brought down, suggested voices within the party, it would have to be by using his own tactics against him…

    The Election of 1921


    203 EVs: 102 needed to win

    Wade Hampton V (W-SC)/Burton Mitchel (W-AR): 108 EV
    Jacob Featherston (F-VA)/Ferdinand Koenig (F-NC):
    67 EV
    Plutarco Elias Calles (RL-SO) [7] /position vacant [8]: 28 EV

    [1] Colloquialism for ‘militia’; State Militias are TTL’s Confederate version of the National Guard. The US has a National Guard, but it is more comparable to the ARNG in terms of its federal oversight – the states of the Union have far less autonomy ITTL, for obvious reasons.

    [2] Known as such for the rattlesnake on the Gadsden Flag, which has been appropriated by the Rad Libs – a party of small farmers and the urban poor/middle class – as a symbol. They’re actually quite proud of the name, even if Layne resents being called a damnyankee snake in the grass by Featherston.

    [3] Why yes, that is Peter Finch. A histrionic figure convinced of the righteousness of his ultimately unpopular cause – how could I not draw a comparison with Howard Beale?

    [4] With thanks to Tiro for inspiration on the character of Burton Mitchel, about whom we'll be hearing a bit later.

    [5] Okay, so Joseph Smith was very technically a candidate in 1844, but even IOTL it’s debatable and ITTL the Confederates will take credit for any achievement they can.

    [6] He’s a bastard, alright, but a bastard who earned the Order of the Virginia, TTL’s CS Navy equivalent of the Medal of Honor.

    [7] The Radical Liberal name on the ballot wasn’t changed in time for the election, naturally, but Radical Liberal electoral votes were cast for Calles after the erstwhile Vice-Presidential nominee was given the nod by the Party (which was understandably preoccupied). It’s been speculated ITTL that his Catholicism cost the Rad Libs Louisiana, but that’s generally accepted to be a thinly-veiled slur against his race – the Freedom convention in New Orleans, the large number of unemployed veterans, and the intense violence in the state as a three-way battleground had substantially more to do with it.

    [8] With Calles kicked upstairs and less than a week left to the election, there wasn’t time to nominate a new Vice-Presidential candidate, with the Rad Libs throwing their lot in behind Burton Mitchel as VP pick. Strange bedfellows, and all that; it also gave him the strongest Electoral College vote for a candidate for either of the top two offices since the 1891 election.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  15. VidaLaVida American-Japanese Bisexual

    Dec 18, 2010
    Chicago, IL
    Ooh. Interesting divergence to use. Yeah, there was a scene in "Blood & Iron" where a stalwart pulled a gun and almost shot Layne, but was stopped by Kimball in time. It looks like in this case, it'll be the Radical Liberals, rather than the Whigs, who are able to ride the wave of martyrdom in the 1920s. And I'm guessing that upcoming Radical Liberal hope Reggie Bartlett will be the one who, as you mentioned, leads the way in making sure the party learns how to fight dirty with the Freedom Party.

    Speaking of martyrdom, for what it's worth, does this butterfly President Wade Hampton V's assassination? If so, any chance that his administration will do things any differently than Burton Mitchell's up through 1928?

    Finally, I think it's high time to address the black Marxist rebellions. I'm especially curious about how their aftermath will be perceived in the CSA's new, more multipolar and chaotic political environment. What solutions do the Radical Liberals have for the smoldering racial resentment? With the brutal peace imposed on the Confederacy (plus the fact that the uprisings' timing coincides even more closely with the end of the war), the "stabbed in the back" narrative will, if anything, be stronger.

    Also, does the timing of the war mean that the Confederacy never got around to conscripting African-Americans into the military, in exchange for granting them voting rights? If so, will this make any subtle changes?
    Historyman 14 and scourge like this.
  16. scourge Californian Patriot

    Oct 19, 2007
    Hell of an update. The Red Rebellion oughta be great.

    Looks like Roger Kimball might be a big fish in this alternate Freedom Party. What's the fate of Jefferson Pinkard?
  17. VidaLaVida American-Japanese Bisexual

    Dec 18, 2010
    Chicago, IL
    That actually is a good point. Would I be correct in assuming that the CSS Bonefish never sank the USS Ericson in the ceasefire of this alt-Great War? Thus, Sylvia Enos never kills him in revenge?

    If so, that's another ingredient. In the canon of "Blood & Iron," Roger Kimball actually already was something of a big player in the Freedom Party. In fact, other characters noted once or twice that Kimball was ambitious, and that despite the fact that Roger appeared to be acting like a team player, Featherston was wary of him.

    Might the Freedom Party face the complications of two ambitious men looking to steer the ship?
  18. scourge Californian Patriot

    Oct 19, 2007
    I see Jake arranging for him to have an "accident".
  19. Tiro Well-Known Member

    Jul 15, 2015
    Please allow me to compliment you, Oh Tsar of all the Kiwis, upon producing a most excellent article - I look forward to seeing more and most particularly must admire your idea to make poor Mr Layne the key Point of Divergence that helps undermine the prospects of the Freedom Party; mind you if President Hampton is assassinated even after this particular Wake-Up call then his security detail will deserve to be shot themselves! (Also President Mitchel will immediately decide "Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice and to Gaol with you!").
  20. Tsar of New Zealand Back in Black (and Red and Green) Donor

    Apr 23, 2013
    The Up-and-Up
    As I write up the next chapter, here's a look at the House after the 1921 elections.