To Live and Die in Dixie - A Communist Confederacy TL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by thekingsguard, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. Threadmarks: Introductions

    thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

    Mar 28, 2010
    Virginia - near the USA-CSSA Border
    So, I've been a member of this forum for almost a decade now. During that time I've served in the military, graduated college, and worked as a reporter and freelance writer of some middling success.

    During that same decade on this forum, I've done a lot of posts and comments, but never an official timeline... until now.

    That's right - after years of discussion, I'm actually doing my official Communist Confederacy timeline.

    Some disclosures first... part of why I'm doing this is I'm really struggling to kick off my fiction-writing career. Some really nice non-form rejection letters for some of my short fiction from places like Analog, Galaxy's Edge and Clarkesworld, but still nothing sold or published. What began as an attempt to invert some of the biggest tropes in AH Civil War fiction became this rough sketch of a universe where the South won the American Civil War, proceeded to make an absolute cluster**** of the peace, and after losing TTL's answer to World War I, is split between a vengeful militarized USA and a Communist remnant state, now only barely kept from war because international alliances guarantee it would start another global war.

    Eventually, this turned into my first attempt at both a novel and some other short stories, the former I'm still working to finish, the latter I'm trying to sell.

    The novel, under the working title "To Live and Die in Dixie" is a spy novel set in this universe's vaguely dieselpunk - because gotta invert the steampunk AH cliche - alternate 1940s, where Malcolm Little has been recruited by the OSS on what they've written off as a suicide mission: rescuing the daughter of one of President Roosevelt's biggest backers being held in the CSSA's most secure military base/prison, and getting back to US soil alive. I actually showed the first chapter and a summary to one of the big six spec fiction publishers, and they loved it - no contracts yet, but I promised to submit to them first once it's finished.

    The short stories, I have two so far, one written from the POV of a Confederate soldier by the name of Albert Parsons fighting in Cuba during an eventually unsuccessful war with Spain that sets him on the course of being my Lenin analog, and one from the POV of a "conductor" of the Underground Railroad making one last run to get dissidents out of the CSSA before the border is completely closed. Been shopping them around for a fit, when it comes to short fiction, alternate history is a hard sell.

    I mention this, first, because who doesn't try to plug their stuff, and second, because I have to be very careful posting anything on this TL, because I do still plan to sell the novels and other stories, and don't want to risk that... it's a bit of a grey area with publishing. So aside from the first chapter of the novel, which I'll post as a framing device, the rest will be textbook style overview and entirely focused on world-building and history. That should be kosher.

    So, after ten years, lots of hype and discussion on this board and elsewhere, I am finally doing my first timeline on the website, and actually doing something other than detail work here on the Communist Confederacy. I hope it lives up to the hype and potential I think it holds.

    Let's get things started.

    PS - if any of our lovely mapmakers on site are willing to take a commission, I may have some work for you. Likewise for any flag designers.

    PSS - Again, my first timeline, but how do I make thread marks?
  2. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

    Aug 4, 2018
    Well this is gonna be interesting. Can’t wait to see more
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  3. Odinson Amateur stand-up comedian

    Nov 27, 2018
    The Constitutional Monarchy of Virginia
    there should be a small blue word/link/button that says threadmarks between report and delete .
    thekingsguard likes this.
  4. Southern pride Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2017
    Communist and Confederacy in same sentence watched!
  5. Threadmarks: A look into the future that the CSSA hath wrought

    thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

    Mar 28, 2010
    Virginia - near the USA-CSSA Border
    “I need every subtle device and every underhanded trick to use against the Confederates, and men comfortable and capable in the usage of both.” - William “Wild Bill” Donovan, Director of the US Office of Strategic Services​

    June 19, 1948
    Fort Custer, Athabasca Territory, United States of America

    Private Malcolm Little had lost count of how many times he'd thumbed through the well-worn issue of Yank magazine since he'd been tossed in the base stockade. He was bored by the articles by the second read through and was absolutely sick of them by now, but right now, as he looked back and forth between a cigarette ad on one page and the pin-up model spread on the opposite page, he was trying to decide which particular vice he missed more. Before he could come to a decision, he heard a jangling of keys outside his cell door, and the voice of one of the guards.

    “Private Little! You have a visitor!”

    Little quickly tossed the magazine beneath his mattress before the cell door opened and two soldiers entered on either side of the door.

    “Sit on the bed and place your arms in front of you private.” said one of the soldiers. Malcolm did so, after which the same soldier stepped forward and placed a set of handcuffs on his wrists, which he then chained to the floor before returning to his post at the door.

    “You can enter now, sir.” the soldier said.

    The man who then entered his cell was an older white man of Irish appearance in an expensive suit. He was clearly non-military, but still had a clear commanding presence of his own. The old man turned to the two soldiers who had entered the cell alongside him.

    “You may go.” the man said.

    “Are you sure sir?” asked one of the soldiers.

    “Gentlemen, I know I’m not a young man anymore, but if I can’t take care of a single handcuffed prisoner without help, it's time for me to retire,” the man replied with quiet confidence. “I repeat, you may go.”

    With that, the two soldiers left the cell and shut the door and locked it behind them. The man walked over to the cell’s desk, pulled out the chair and sat down before turning towards Malcolm. He reached into his jacket and removed a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

    “Do you smoke, Private Little?” the man asked.

    “Would that I could, sir,” Malcolm said. “As you can tell, though, they’ve got me chained up pretty well here.”

    “Come now Private Little, no need for lies between friends,” said the man. “If half of what I’ve read about you is true, you had those handcuffs picked by around the time I was asking those guards to leave the room.”

    Now that got Malcolm's attention. Hesitantly Malcolm pulled away from his cuffs, revealing that he had indeed picked the lock. The man chuckled, offering a cigarette from the pack to Malcolm. He took it, and put it between his teeth, at which point the man took out a lighter and lit the cigarette. Malcolm took a long drag before he spoke.

    “What else you read about me?” Malcolm asked.

    “Mostly, that you are a young man of some interesting contradictions,” said the man. “Malcolm Little, born May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, fourth of seven children. Your father took a job working as an administrator in the Canadian territories, and your family moved around a lot. You excelled in school and reported for duty when your conscription orders came after graduation.

    “Your military history is where things get interesting,” the man continued. “Excellent scores in marksmanship, but quite the lengthy reputation as a troublemaker. Not just the occasional fistfight or drunken antics of a more typical soldier mind you. The report I was given about you certainly made for an entertaining read. Impersonating an officer in order to sneak into the officer's club on base - you must have done a pretty good job if you only got caught the third time. Possessing contraband, selling contraband, distributing contraband - a lot more of those, you were a busy little soldier. Sneaking on and off post with impressive regularity. And most recently - as well as my own personal favorite - stealing a tank and taking it for a joyride, and only being caught when it ran out of fuel.”

    “Okay that last one is nothing but trumped up charges and lies!” Malcolm said with an almost reflexive defensiveness.

    “Naturally,” replied the man. “Which is a real shame, because I could have some use for a man with such, shall we say, creative talents for causing trouble.”

    “What kind of use would that be?” asked Malcolm.

    “Do you know who I am, Private Little?” asked the man.

    “Afraid not.” Malcolm replied.

    “My name is Bill Donovan, Director of the Office of Strategic Services,” answered the man. “The reason I’m here is that I have a particular job that you may be well suited for, if you’re willing to hear what I have in mind.”

    “If this job of yours gets me out of this cell, I’m all ears.”

    “In my experience, I’ve found men who make bad soldiers quite often can make capable field agents. In the Army, impersonating an officer, stealing equipment or sneaking on and off base makes you a troublemaker, in the OSS, it can make you an asset,” said Donovan. “And it just so happens, I find myself in need of an asset with your skillset.”

    "What kind of asset would that be?"

    Donovan leaned back in the chair, and began to rock steadily. "What do you know about John Jacob Astor V?"

    "Just what the papers say, same as anyone else," said Malcolm. "He has more money than God, owns more land than some states, and he's in like Flynn with President Roosevelt."

    Reaching again into his coat, Donovan pulled out a picture of a young woman, which he handed to Malcolm.

    “That’s his daughter Mary,” said Donovan. “She was believed dead when her yacht went down off the coast of Florida around a month ago. Last week, we got word she’s alive, being held as an ‘enemy of the proletariat’ by the damned CSSA, pending either execution or payment of a very generous ransom."

    "Held against her will in a military prison, I can almost sympathize."

    "I thought you might. Naturally, official US policy is that we don’t negotiate with those communist bastards, but as you pointed out, being a close friend and a rather significant supporter of the President has its perks. Astor wants his daughter back, it's an election year, and Quinton does want that second term, so an effort does have to be made."

    “What’s all this got to do with me?” asked Malcolm.

    “Simple,” said Donovan. “You’re the one who is going to break her out and get her back to US soil, ideally to our embassy in Parsonsville.”

    “Sir, you seem to have a lot more faith in me than I do,” said Malcolm. “You have guys who do this for a living on your payroll, why send me?”

    “To be entirely honest? Plausible deniability,” said Donovan bluntly. “What few assets we have on the ground in the CSSA can’t be risked on a political favor for the President, and should one of them get caught, it would blow up into an international incident. On the other hand, should, say, a rogue soldier with a long history of misbehavior get caught--”

    “You get to deny everything when they put me up against the wall, and pretend it never happened. That’s encouraging,” said Malcolm. “Okay, so let’s say I agree to do this - what's in it for me?”

    “I don’t suppose doing it out of patriotism and for love of country is enough?”

    "To infiltrate a hostile Communist dictatorship, spring someone from a brig located on their most secure military base, and then waltz together into their capital unnoticed, all for what looks and sounds like a suicide mission?" asked Malcolm. "Hell no."

    “I figured as much, which is why I came with an offer,” said Donovan. “Upon successful completion of this mission, you’ll be granted a full pardon for all of your misbehavior in the army. In addition, your term of conscription will be considered complete, and you’ll be granted an honorable discharge with all of the rights and privileges that entails. I’ll also mention that it never hurts to have a sitting President and one of the richest men in America owe you a favor."

    Donovan then leaned back again, and thumbed to the locked door behind him.

    "Plus, as a more immediate incentive, if you say yes, you get to walk out of this cell with me right now.”

    “If I say no?”

    “Then I'll thank you for hearing me out, leave to offer the job to somebody else, and for all intents and purposes this conversation never happened, no hard feelings. I can't say the same for your commander though, or about your upcoming court-martial,” said Donovan. “You didn’t hear it from me, but based on some of the charges against you, the best case scenario you can hope for is an immediate dishonorable discharge, and worst case, you'll be sentenced to a hard labor battalion up north, and spend the next few years building highways and airstrips in the Alaska and Yukon territories. Then, if you don't freeze to death, then you'll be dishonorably discharged and spend the rest of your life wishing that you had."

    "So, I have a choice between misery and death, or just the near certainty of misery and death?"

    "That would appear to be the case, so what'll it be?"

    Malcolm took another long drag on his cigarette, and then let out a long, smoke-filled sigh.

    "Then I'd say you have your agent, lucky for you I hate the cold," said Malcolm. “Sneak into a communist dictatorship, get into one of the most secure places on the continent, break out with a VIP, then get the both of us back alive to American soil by any means necessary... how hard can it be?”

    Authors Note: This is the opening the novel in progress, and the only bit from it I'll be posting, but I'm curious what everyone thinks. To no one's surprise, my writing has no harsher critic than myself.

    Next up, we kick off the actual timeline, and look back at the very beginning.

    Before the Rednecks turned what was left of the old slaver Confederacy into the Confederated Socialist States of America...

    Before the Reckoning War spilled the blood of a generation of men from around the world...

    Before the nations of the world were divided between the Entente and the Eagles, and which alliance would come to dominate the 20th Century...

    Before the United States of America began mandating military service and forged an army that would make even Prussia proud...

    Before the Confederate States of America lost King Cotton to the boll weevil and waves of young men on the beaches of Cuba and deserts of Mexico...

    Before President Fremont would heal the pride of a wounded USA, and before Robert E. Lee, Dixie's Hannibal, and eventual First Martyr of the Revolution, would like Hannibal before him, die forsaken and hated by the country he's led to victory...

    There was a war. The American Civil War, or the War of Confederate Independence, or Palmerston's Folly, depending on who's recounting the history. Whatever you call it, it began with a moment, one of those moments where the fates of entire nations hinge.

    Specifically, it hinged upon a battle in Virginia in 1862, that would become known as "the Confederate Cannae".
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
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  6. King of the Uzbeks Charles Curtis is my Baby Daddy

    May 28, 2013
    Not-Tashkent (sadly)
    Sea Lion Press might be an opportunity for the short stories. And of course I'm watching this.
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  7. James Ricker Own your mistakes

    Oct 29, 2016
    Boston Massachusetts
    I always figured the Confederacy would have been vulnerable to a Communist revolution. It's nice to see someone agrees with me and is writing a timeline on the subject.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  8. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

    Mar 28, 2010
    Virginia - near the USA-CSSA Border
    My original idea for the TL actually - for all the fascist CSAs we see, they don't have any of the industrial signatures to those states. Instead, the CSA is rural, aristocratic, and isolated - like states that went Communist in OTL, like Russia and China.

    Do they ever do short story anthologies?
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  9. King of the Uzbeks Charles Curtis is my Baby Daddy

    May 28, 2013
    Not-Tashkent (sadly)
    I think so.
  10. Wendell Wendell

    Jun 8, 2005
    Lost in what might have been
    thekingsguard likes this.
  11. rob2001 Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2013
    I like it so far, can't wait to read more of the story.
    thekingsguard likes this.
  12. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA

    I have to say, reading the background material you have provided, it is entirely unclear to me why the Redneck run South is railroaded into being a totalitarian hellhole.

    I could elaborate on it, but I am a curious observer here. I actually find the writing pretty darn engaging so far. I'll see if there are surprises worthy of the fairly interesting set up you've offered so far that keep what I presume will prove a deeply hostile perception of what American Communism could be interesting.

    I'm also skeptical of the manner in which the original CSA wins its independence; I do think a better approach would be to butterfly away Lincoln completely, and have the Republican coalition misfire badly in the secession crisis, so that its leadership cannot get the country to agree (largely because alt-Republicans won't agree among themselves) to commit the nation to civil war, and so take the tack of "go in peace, wayward sisters!" That's by far the best chance the CSA has IMHO, that the US leadership just wimps out on the doctrines of preserving the Union. And frankly I'd rather see Abraham Lincoln tragically eaten by an alligator than have him nerfed as you do. I just don't think that he would come to terms under British "compulsion." Yet your account leans on that rather than the simple fact of the "Cannae" defeat.

    Despite these annoyances, still I think this will be worth checking up on. We'll see.
  13. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

    Mar 28, 2010
    Virginia - near the USA-CSSA Border
    You raise some *excellent* points here, most of which, have no fear I plan to address. Won't be a while before we touch on why the Confederated Socialist States of America is totalitarian and in which regards - some things I'm going to keep close to vest for now - but some is due to the inherent nature of what kind of regime it would take to force redistribution of wealth and large-scale social engineering, some is due to just flavor. That said, I will offer you this morsel for now: among the eventual Communist block ITTL, the CSSA is STILL one of the tamer regimes.

    Your second point though raises one of the biggest things I am hoping to tackle with this TL and my work - addressing all of the genre standby tropes of the Confederacy winning the American Civil War, including how they win the war. You'll see that over the next few updates, but there are some BIG reasons I picked Cannae as my metaphor - one of several - the big two being Lee's own diaries write about his pursuit of his own self-described "Cannae" perfect battle, and the other reason being that as disastrous as the battle was, the Roman Republic still survived the battle...
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  14. Threadmarks: Roundheads and Cavaliers, North and South

    thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

    Mar 28, 2010
    Virginia - near the USA-CSSA Border
    “I've barely said five words to you. What indication could you possibly have that I am a Yankee?"
    "Well, we could start with the words 'what indication.' Someone from south of the Mason-Dixon would have said, 'Who the hell are you calling a Yankee?' Then we would have fought.” - old Southern joke​

    Excerpt from Normans and Saxons: The North, the South, Slavery, and America's oldest divide by Carter H. Watson​

    When searching for answers for where the divide between North and South first began, and the various conflicts it has sparked over the past century, you have historians looking back at American history and offer a range of answers. One of the few points agreed upon is that, by the time South Carolina seceded from the union, the American Civil War, or the War of Southron Independence, depending on whose historians are being asked, was if not a foregone conclusion at least close to it. Some will say that, perhaps one moment or another from the political upheaval of the 1850s, or had there stronger national leadership, that the war may have been avoided, but most historians, including myself, will agree that much of this conflict was already "baked in the clay" by this point.

    Others will cite the growing cultural divide between the small farms, immigrant-heavy and rapidly-industrializing Northern states, and the cash crop plantations and Anglo-Saxon elite of the South, and the fear from the latter than the former would soon eclipse them in power. Others will cite slavery, be it the South's outright refusal to see it restricted, the failed efforts to condemn it in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, some even going as far back as pointing out slaves were coming to Jamestown while the Pilgrims were breaking bread over the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, claiming that a nation founded upon the ideals of life and liberty could not long survive such a blatant hypocrisy. Others cite geography - that the North and West, being utterly unsuited to plantation agriculture, was destined to come into conflict with the South where the reign of King Cotton over the South would go unchallenged until the Boll Weevil forced the issue, and the Redneck's would explore alternatives after their revolution.

    While each of these schools of thought have their virtues - and I spent enough of my younger years in bondage prior to the Reckoning War to know the many sins and failures of slavery personally - I am among the historians that feel the divide goes back even farther and can trace it's rooted to the sorts of people who first settled these shores. The early settlers of New England and the Mid Atlantic were largely a combination of religious and political refugees, be they Puritans or Quakers, along with a flow of English, Scots-Irish and German farmers and miners seeking better lives across on foreign shores, the first of many who would follow on their footsteps. The early settlers of the South, however, were fortune seekers, and if not the third or fourth sons of minor aristocratic families in England, the kinds of people who seek the same level of noble privilege. One group sought a fresh start and a break with the old world - the other saw themselves as heirs to the Anglo-Norman aristocrats of England, the plantation their noble estates, and the slaves their subjects.

    You saw this early on reflected in what would become the Thirteen Colonies with which factions of the English Civil War they supported, with New England supporting Cromwell and the Parliamentarians, and Virginia and the Carolinas supporting the Royalists. In a fashion, one could see the divides between the North and South, as an expansion of that of the Roundheads and Cavaliers... a divide dating back to the English Civil War that would simmer over the centuries until it helped to spawn the American Civil War.


    When Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina savagely caned Senator Charles Sumner Massachusetts on the floor of the U.S. Senate on May 21, 1856, southerners viewed the attack as a triumphant affirmation of southern chivalry, northerners as a confirmation of southern barbarity. Public opinion was similarly divided nearly three-and-a-half years later after abolitionist John Brown's raid on the Federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, with northerners crowning John Brown as a martyr to the cause of freedom as southerners excoriated him as a consciousness fanatic. These events opened American minds to the possibility that North and South might be incompatible societies, and that the house divided, could no longer stand... one vision would have to triumph over the other...

    Excerpt from Freedom, Rebellion, Redemption, and Revolution: How the American Civil War defined a century and still matters today by James McPherson​

    By 1860, the North and South had followed different paths, developing into two distinct and very different regions, with different economies, different populations, different politics and different visions for the future.

    In terms of agriculture, the two were divided by geography - northern soil and climate favored smaller farmsteads rather than large plantations, while the fertile soil and warm climate of the South made it ideal for large-scale plantations and cash crops like tobacco and cotton. In fact, with ongoing industrialization, agriculture was playing a smaller and smaller part in the economy of the North, and between 1800 and 1860, the percentage of laborers working in agricultural pursuits in the northern states dropped from 70% to only 40%.

    Industry flourished in the North, fueled by more abundant natural resources than in the South, and urbanization accompanied it, with one-quarter of all Northerners lived in cities by 1860, with the largest city, New York with more than 800,000 inhabitants, having more residents than many Southern states. Transportation was easier in the North, which boasted more than two-thirds of the railroad tracks in the country and the economy was on an upswing. With this boom came immigrants from Europe - an overwhelming majority of whom, seven out of every eight, settled in the North rather than the South.

    Conversely, because agriculture was so profitable few Southerners saw a need for industrial development, and outside of efforts like Richmond's Tredegar Iron Works, proved openly hostile to such efforts. Eighty percent of the labor force worked on farms, and the economy was entirely dependant on plantation agriculture for cash crops like tobacco and cotton, and with it, chattel slavery was inextricably tied to the region's economy and culture.

    While some slave states had begun to phase out the practice - 90% of slaves had been freed in Delaware, and there were less than 1000 slaves in the entire state of Missouri - they were the exception, not the rule, with there being almost as many black slaves as there were whites in the South, 4 million blacks and 5.5 million whites. Nearly all the region's wealth was tied into the plantation economies and went to the owners of these plantations owners - for the nearly two-thirds of Southerners owned no slaves at all, many were impoverished sustenance farmers, and many Southern states had even begun limiting the right to vote to slave owners.

    Yet, in 1860, the South's agricultural economy was beginning to stall while the Northern manufacturers were experiencing a boom, something that had not gone unnoticed by the region's planter elite. Decades of effort to prolong their political power and influence at the national level had resulted in countless compromises and concessions, from the infamous Three-Fifths Compromise in the Constitution to Popular Sovereignty - but even the most obtuse among the Southern elite could see the writing was on the wall. The North was growing rapidly on all fronts, in terms of economics, industry, and influence, and with this growth, came the growing support for abolition. The time would come when, just as the South had for decades forced concessions, that the North would be able to force the issue - and that time was coming soon.

    If they needed any further sign of the times, it came in the 1860 Presidential Election, with Republican Abraham Lincoln winning the election and carrying every Free state in the Union. Southerners howled that the Presidency would be going to a man "who hadn't won a single Southern vote" but what went unsaid was that aside from Virginia, every state that would eventually secede to form the Confederate States of America had not had Lincoln on the ballot at all, in many instances by design. Lincoln had been elected not to spite the South, but IN SPITE of the South... something that many among the Southern elite were acutely aware of.

    Before Lincoln had even been inaugurated, South Carolina announced it was seceding from the Union, with six others having joined it by the day Lincoln was sworn in as President. The American Civil War had begun. Each of them cited the protection of slavery and the plantation economy as the chief causes belli.
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  15. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    Re "Roundheads and Cavaliers" aka post 14 that begins
    quoting "Carter H. Watson," who as far as a quick Google search suggests is an ATL person entirely:

    Aside from the ATL historian, who appears to be an African American and liberated in the process of the Retribution War, presumably in the territories the USA incorporated or moving to them, everything said in this post appears to me to refer entirely to OTL. I don't like Lincoln being nerfed to his shame, but I do suppose if the military outcome is plausible enough to yank the rug of pursuing the Civil War completely out from under him, he would have little choice but to come to terms--though I still protest accounts that suggest it was primarily British strongarming he knuckles under to; rather a fair minded account would probably have to stress the hopeless situation on the ground in America and probably Republican dissent facing this. Of course nothing stops a later ATL account from being wrongheaded! Anyway Lincoln presumably is not accounted a very good President, presumably some people champion him as an underdog but there is a reason he is that primarily.

    So anyway rolling with, as far as I can see so far, zero POD until the crucial early battle goes another way, has certain plain advantages to a TL writer, rather than my preferred notion of removing Lincoln (or equivalently butterflying him into a lesser person) prior to 1860 leaving a relatively divided and feckless Republican (or ATL named equivalent, roughly, coalition of some kind) to muff the secession crisis--indeed from certain weighty points of view, just letting the South go has its important virtues, such as avoiding a pretty nasty and costly civil war. I do firmly believe that with enough resolution in Republican leadership the USA could weather any plausible storm including a catastrophic early military defeat combined with Britain jumping in on the CSA side--bearing in mind that realism strongly limits how thoroughly Britain can commit to the pro-slavery side. The more they do, the more US patriotism reinforces Unionism in the north, whereas the more they commit to the slaver side, the more toxic the whole thing gets in British domestic politics--bearing in mind politics does not stop at the formal barriers of franchise; large numbers of people who have no standing to vote for Parliament in 1860 remain potential factors for canny British leaders who wish to avoid a civil war of their own to consider. So this is why I doubt Lincoln would say "oh noes, the British are against us, better pack it in!" It would be more effective for pro-Confederate British interests
    (and for most of these, it might be more accurate to say "anti-Yankee;" I'm sure there would be some forthright reactionaries who shrug off the moral issue of slavery but it was taken somewhat seriously by nearly everyone in the UK and as plainly a deplorably bad thing, so most would want to avoid even thinking about their coalition of interest with planters, and prefer to think of it as against Yankee hubris and hypocrisy, never mind their own hypocrisy--people are real good at that kind of double standard!)
    to be circumspect and even roll with the occasional Yankee punch, to maintain the moral high ground as honest broker. Again though nothing stops some mid-20th century revisionist from saying "but it was really the British factor that made the Union cave," fidelity to Lincoln's actual character and record in the ATL be damned in favor of a narrative.

    Anyway either way, while I don't think it is really plausible the Union would fail, we have to grant some long shot scenarios where we do I suppose. The war is at any rate cut pretty short here, and the damage to both sides relatively limited though considering what a demographic dent the war made OTL, even slashing that back an order of magnitude leaves both sides reeling from a blow hard to match in OTL US history, only the ARW coming close to or exceeding its relative disruptiveness. For the Union OTL aspects of "disruption" were in fact opportunities at least for some people and that process too is at least partially aborted; the South comes across as relatively far ahead of its OTL situation once Lee wins his decisive battle. This is our POD pretty much entirely I suppose, all else follows from it. Presumably Lincoln is not actually impeached and removed (that would put Hannibal Hamlin into his place and nobody but diehard radical Republicans, currently much discredited, would want that). He just serves out his single term in disgrace and impotence, doing what he can to salvage his reputation and his view of the general Republican cause in the face of failure of mission objective #1.

    I have my doubts about the suitability of Fremont as returning Republican standard bearer--assuming no divergence before Lee's victory he was already the unsuccessful candidate of 1856, nor does anything I know about him suggest he would have particular flair or genius--certainly important connections, and a certain following, and Lincoln's failures make him look retrospectively better, but I can grant, especially given the basic weakness of the Presidency prior to 1861, that he is basically a convenient figurehead of some other Republican movement he agreeably lets happen and more or less assists as much as he can. However note the inherent tendency of the reforms he is said to have led tend to create a strong Executive anyway; surely Republicans who are promoting this will notice that they are handing their figurehead all sorts of major responsibility.

    Does Lincoln's income tax get perpetuated, possibly with an Amendment to shut up SCOTUS's objections? Are Taney and other pro-slavery Justices purged, perhaps informally--"Your Honor, you really would prefer to retire down South, would you not? Thanks for your services, here's your carriage, what's your hurry here's your hat!" Or perhaps via formal impeachment should some of them stubbornly not get the message. Surely their persons, fortunes and formal honor are protected by the looming CSA just over the border, not to mention British hints about propriety.

    For that matter--the final (1862-1900's) formal territorial settlement is of some interest.

    West Virginia's secession from Virginia is well under way I think, but nevertheless the Union might have to agree to pull the plug on it and advise its leaders they can either move north or make more or less mediated peace with the tidewater powers that be, perhaps leverage some more balanced representation in Richmond out of it, for instance-or perhaps plausibly the Virginian lowland elites are persuaded they had just as well be rid of the headache of the mountain folk--perhaps demanding and getting a settlement whereby West Virginia perhaps under another name must become a neutral independent republic, with both sides having rights of inspection to verify limited arms for minimal resistance to invasion plus their difficult terrain of course, and the CSA and USA having specified rights and obligations the nominally independent if de facto Union satellite must walk a tightrope between, until the Retribution War of course. That's all up in the air and I should check my dates and the timeline of progress in the West Virginia process OTL. But I do think if the CSA, read, Virginia, insists on taking it back status quo ante, they are buying themselves some serious headaches, especially if they try for vengeful prosecution of West Virginia activists--whereas the Union claiming all or part of it versus OTL final boundaries is an unacceptable dagger to the heart of the Confederacy. Hence my neutralized Finlandization proposal--I do tend to be fond of those, as with Alsace-Lorraine for instance, I admit. Buffer states come in handy, as your own proposal re New Orleans later demonstrates. It could demilitarize a lot of the US/CSA border, assuming a mutual inspection regime is thinkable in this era, and why not?

    Maryland is another issue; OTL and here up to the POD the Unionists had it well in hand, and I gather the slave interest there was not so very strong, though hardly negligible. I hardly have patience with people who talk about what is "unthinkable" along lines of "The Union cannot tolerate DC being separated! They can't stand CSA borders so close to such and such..." Clearly the Union is eating quite a lot of crow here and losing the South, however defined, changes the original logic of a national capital for the remnant North quite a lot. Why hang on to DC at all? The degree of development of Washington as a city and bureaucratic center is much lower than we are accustomed to post world wars, post Depression and New Deal, after all, and much of what is memorialized there as of 1862 is Southern anyway. It is interesting to wonder how the USA grapples with its self identity with its claim to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Madison and so forth yanked out from under it, and without Lincoln being a figure who can step into the breach, but I suppose they will muddle along culturally somehow...a lot more historiographic focus on Franklin, the various Adamses and Paul Revere I guess; the classic American (US/Yankee that is) schoolchildren's accounts will be pretty much all about New England and Pennsylvania and New York's roles, with as little mention as possible of the Virginians. Washington and Jefferson can hardly be omitted completely but downplaying them is entirely possible I suppose.

    So anyway, the Union might hold on to all or part of Maryland, all or part of Delaware. It seems highly likely to hang on to Missouri to me; failing to do so makes an awkward hole in westward communications. I am very unsure what ought to become of Kentucky, in the sense of plausible directions its people would take it in. I'd have to consult military history I don't have ready to mind to know how far south Union forces might have reached along the Mississippi, but even if the Union has a stranglehold on Tennessee or parts of it by the time of Lee's victory, I'm quite sure that at least would be traded back in negotiations, the question is whether Kentucky belatedly joins the secession...or perhaps, along with West Virginia and maybe even merging with it, forms another stretch of Finlandized buffer republic, trading with both sides, disarmed against both, with roaming handfuls of Union and Confederate inspectors mutually guaranteeing no funny stuff and thus keeping the peace?

    South of Missouri then, I suppose the CSA triumphant has little trouble retaining or regaining Arkansas and Tennessee and Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are essentially untouched. Another fun round of arguments can be had about the land we now call Oklahoma; a standard trope is that it falls into the CSA's lap but I have my doubts about that being such a slam dunk...perhaps again, a third bit of neutral buffer zone? This one leaning mostly pro-Confederate I suppose, though I would think some of the tribes settled there by this point would rather not be so associated, and both sides might get into a bit of a conciliatory bidding war to win over "Indian" allegiance.

    West of Texas, the maps do seem to show some territorial adjustment of that state's border and a big combined Arizona-New Mexico but it is not clear if this is post Retribution War adjustment. I seem to recall California being partitioned, too, but again it is not clear if this reflects grandiose CSA (read mainly Texan) conquests (highly unlikely given no divergence until Lee's victory at which point the USA capitulates quickly) a strongarmed US concession of Southern California despite the CSA's weakness there (unlikely the British will assist them in their ambitions to reach the Pacific; I think the Union ought to be strong enough to hold the entire far west) or perhaps an opportunistic British annexation with local pro-secessionist help, later reversed in the Retribution War. As noted I think the plausible thing is California remains united in OTL boundaries, part of the Union continually, end report--even if CSA adventurism gets into Arizona (as we define it, the CSA claims of "Arizona" were the southern portion of a continual larger New Mexico, not the west part of it) I don't think they could hold out there long nor break through to the Pacific even granting the substantial secessionist blocs in California (and Oregon for that matter--the only reason Republicans could control Oregon in the Civil War and after was that the Democrats there split between pro and anti Unionist, had the Democrats voted together or if Oregon's legislature were proportional, they would have had the large majority).

    So there are interesting details covering the interim between the abortive CW and the RW about what is and is not CSA, whether there are more or less neutralized buffer republics sandwiched between them. I hope we don't hear a lot of stuff about the USA "demanding," still less imperatively getting, rights on the lower Mississippi and so forth; the Union and Confederacy get what they get, and play the hand they are dealt; if Midwestern interests want to trade via New Orleans they are just going to have to deal with Confederate jurisdiction or simply sell their goods to CSA traders at the border I suppose. No archangels stand ready to guarantee the USA any special rights on waters running between Confederate states! The CSA would need to be given reasons to abide by such special rules--they could happen but I don't see why the Southerners would particularly want to grant them, and again the premise is, the USA is beaten and knows it. So I count it lucky just to hang on to Missouri and perhaps Kentucky and let it go at that for now. The Midwest can in fact use Great Lakes/Ohio/Missouri watershed waterways, and mostly rely on railroads, without any terrible impediment, and it is the South that long term risks losing out by stubbornly diverting Yankee trade away from the Mississippi. Maybe they realize that and trade at the border on fair terms, and are reasonable about licensing Yankee firms to operate on the river, maybe not.

    So back to the question of the capitals--I don't know how much the CSA is going to want to go on with Richmond as their federal capital, certainly Lee's role biases things in favor of Virginia being it, that and Virginia's important role as a port and industrial center, but vice versa postwar some might cover jealousy of Virginia with pearl clutching about Richmond's military vulnerability to some hypothetical Yankee onslaught--as it turns out, this is in fact a real danger! Same would apply to any location anywhere in Virginia of course if Richmond is considered at all vulnerable. Returning the capital to Montgomery seems implied a bit by the sketch history involving Parsons but maybe that was an endgame move as the CSA reeled under Yankee invasion in the Retribution War. An alternative might be to put it in Charleston, or alternatively far west in North Carolina or east in Tennessee for a more central and somewhat fortified location.

    Similarly, why the hell should the USA hold out in DC, even if we can retain Maryland? Either way it is painfully vulnerable. The new USA ought to form a new Federal district in the Midwest or between New England and New York on the coast; even Philadelphia or Pittsburg seems a bit vulnerable to me. If the USA is very worried about British Canada teaming up with the CSA later that throws more of a monkey wrench into a good capital location, but anyway DC seems clean out. I can see the Union stubbornly hanging on to possession of it just to make a bloody minded point, but turning it into a military district or letting it merge back into Maryland (as a quid pro quo for that state staying in the Union maybe?) It is a dumb place to keep the federal capital now!

    Post Retribution War it might seem opportune to triumphantly reclaim it and move the Federal machinery back there again, or do something like some other countries do with the capital functions spread out--put Congress back in a rebuilt and remodeled Capitol there, say, and keep the President and military centers in the interim deep capital out west, maybe move SCOTUS to Philadelphia or Boston while they are at it perhaps--that would probably be dumb though given how large the Federal machinery would have gotten by the 1900s in this scenario.

    Overall, it seems to me that despite some serious hurt the USA takes, it is in a strong position overall, given that as noted the culture responds to the military/strategic challenge by massive national service universal levy, which in the right context could greatly strengthen rather than undermine US democratic republicanism. It depends on the exact nature of post ACW US militarism and the nature of national service. Will the USA create a top-down technocratic bunch of Junker officers trying to ramrod everything, or will we basically get Bill Mauldin's "Wille and Joe" from Up Front, each cohort trained at national expense in literacy, useful engineering/mechanic skills, and a vigorous citizen-republic with strong egalitarianism due to this common bond?

    Frankly the dialog between Donovan and Malcolm Little strikes me as very much in the patriotic citizen-soldier mode of the US WWII services. They don't look like a bunch of lickspittle minions of a haughty high command to me, more like the kind of barracks politician salt of the earth types Mauldin celebrated from being embedded among them and publishing in the enlisted soldier's organ Stars and Stripes during WWII.

    We already know the South is going to muff its opportunity to join the twentieth century in a position of strength and will mostly wind up reincorporated at gunpoint back into the Union by 1910. I only hope that by 1940 they have been reincorporated on fairly equal terms.
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  16. Southern pride Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2017
    Great writing.
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  17. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

    Mar 28, 2010
    Virginia - near the USA-CSSA Border
    First - love the long post, gives me plenty of feedback and things to digest! Though don't think I don't also appreciate all the folks just leaving a sentence or two as well!

    No, this is just background and flavor - next post is our POD.

    Don't worry too much for our friend Lincoln, however - he will have a better legacy than most "South wins" TLs, for a variety of factors.

    A few points here.

    First, who said the Brits are the ONLY ones sticking their noses in this?

    As for Freemont, I'm torn between him and a few other figures - the fanboy in me wants a President Sherman, but I am trying to be plausible.

    And you do touch on an interesting point - for all the works that have Lincoln be the first and last Republican president, do remember, about 3/4ths of the Democratic Party just left the Union.

    Food for thought.

    The Virginia/West Virginia dynamic will be interesting here - as a Virginian, this is something so many other works about the US Civil War tend to ignore, especially alternate histories. The big one being that, even in OTL, there were chunks of Virginia that were very nearly included in West Virginia, bits of Virginia that spent nearly the entire war under US control, things like that.

    Case in point, the border between the USA and CSA prior to the Reckoning War isn't the Potomac River, it's the Rappahannock.

    Beyond just what the USA/CSA borders will be, there are some other effects... for one, I've actually not been able to find what the plan was for Virginia's capital if the South won the war, whether Richmond would serve as the capital of both Virginia and the Confederacy, or if another Virginian city would be selected for the state capital, and which one if so.

    Big "CSA wins the war" cliche I will be inverting here, because I personally hate that cliche. Rather than toss aside the likes of Washington and Jefferson, the USA will either hold fast or reinterpret their view of them - Washington will be hailed for having freed his slaves (being forced by the Virginia government to wait until his will to do so) and Jefferson will be seen as a tragic figure for being forced to strike any mention of slavery from the Declaration of Independence.

    That said, Washington will be getting one major assist - while I won't give other details, for now, Mount Vernon will be on the US side of the eventual USA-CSA border.

    The eventual border is going to be a major point of contention both during the initial treaty and the post-Civil War years - there are going to be some interesting initial changes, then some poor choices that will cause some tensions down the road. More to come.

    Richmond will be the one and only capital of the Confederate States of America.

    As for which city in the Confederated Socialist States of America got the Leningrad treatment and was renamed Parsonsville and made the capital? I'm debating between Montgomery and Birmingham, though I wager Atlanta, being named for a pagan goddess, would be due for a name change too by the Rednecks.

    As enticing as it is for the idea of a Midwestern capital, another "CSA wins the war" cliches I want to avoid is the USA moving the capital. Washington DC remains the US capital, though it will be aided in its defense in part by the initial USA-CSA border, as I hinted at above.

    First, deeply flattered by the comparison to Mauldin... he is a huge inspiration to me as a military reporter and a writer.

    The road the USA will take with militarism and national service will be... interesting. Without revealing too much, it's like the USA is pulling less from Greece and more from Rome - firmly republican, but serving your three years in the military is viewed as a rite of passage/earning your rights as a citizen. They serve as a standing Army, yes, but also as a pool of workers for many public works projects - imagine of the US Army Corps of Engineers had access to the Civilian Conservation Corps.

    It's had some positive effects on US Republicanism - racial and class divisions are much smaller in the US, and military benefits formed the start of something resembling social democracy in the US, something pretty important given that you have a Communist country across the border. Some negative ones too - the big one being that with citizenship and its benefits increasingly being tied to military service, women's rights are well behind OTL, and immigrants fall into something of a grey area.

    Well, do keep in mind by TTL 1940s, there is still a rump South, one that has spent a generation under Communist rule.

    As for the bits of the former CSA reclaimed by the USA during the Reckoning War? That would be telling, but I will say some bits have been re-incorporated much better than others.
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  18. Odinson Amateur stand-up comedian

    Nov 27, 2018
    The Constitutional Monarchy of Virginia
    If you're looking for something more plausible than Sherman, there's always Daniel sickles. He was a famous military commander who became a representative. Same goes for William Rosecrans.
  19. TRH Tyrannosaurus Rex Handler

    Sep 19, 2012
    Rosecrans was Catholic, so probably couldn't get further than that. That said, Ambrose Burnside of all people became Governor and then Senator after the war.
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  20. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Feb 16, 2011
    The Commonwealth
    It's here! Huzzah! I have long been waiting for this! Sincerely looking forward to this TTL and please do keep us updated about these stories! I'm wishing you all the best in getting them published!

    PS: If you want to get at least one short story out there, give AH's own Sea Lion Press a shot. Get's you up and running!