Trent Affair Goes Hot

The level of projection in this paragraph is really quite remarkable.
Agreed.

From my POV, the argument seems to be that the Union was so confident in its capabilities that it didn't even bother to try against the seceding Confederate States and kept enough forces in reserve that it could fight the world's preeminent superpower of the time and come out on top. The notion is ridiculous.

Perhaps the USA of the 1860s, whilst not fighting a friggin' civil war, would be a good match for the UK of the time; however, the notion that this was the case during the ACW which killed more Americans than any other conflict they've been involved in before and since and which cost the American treasury more money than they'd spent in the nearly nine decades since their independence, is close to ASB territory.

Northstar
 
No most of the people posting on this aren't trying to dispel the image of 1940, their presenting an idea of 1812.
1812 is still a good benchmark for the naval war. There's no American fleet to purposefully contest the British presence at sea, and their ships are not really going to be able to take the fight in a fleet to fleet action against the Royal Navy in 1862 anymore than they were in 1812, for very similar reasons. Single ship to ship actions don't matter when you can't break the blockade of your own harbors.

I've been saying this war is a desperate struggle for the Union. Your assessment is that the British army in Canada will easily out maneuver, and out fight twice their number of American troops, on a broad front. I said the attack on Quebec was to screen the move on Montreal. If they concentrate on the defense of Montreal how many troops could they have to defend Toronto? A fleet with no army can't defend it. It's also unlikely that by the time campaigning season starts the Union wouldn't have warships on Lake Ontario, some of them armored. They can't defend everywhere. As I said all the American have to do is occupy half of the populated parts of Canada.
No, my assessment is that the Anlgo-Canadians, fighting on their home ground, will be able to hold off attacks by larger American forces. My significant exception to that is they can't hold the Western province, and Toronto would doubtless fall.

Like I said though, they can't attack Quebec right away for very practical reasons. Both American and British commentators agreed on this, I posted a link to Halleck's 1846 musings on the matter upthread, and needless to say he rules it out. The attack would be aimed straight at Montreal by the shortest and best supplied route up Lake Champlain. The British and Americans know this, and that would see the bloodiest fighting of the whole issue.

Wrapped in Flames, posted by Gunslinger at the start of this whole thread, pretty much sums up the opening moves of the war in Canada based on my own research of British and American sources.

In his assessment of the war at sea, Admiral Milne didn't seem very confident he could blockade the American Coast, so it's not 1812. They can't just take all the time in the world blockading the Union. Union raiders would be causing serious shipping loses on the British Merchant Marine.
That's the exact opposite of what I got from the Milne Papers when he discussed the possibility of blockading the Union. He seems to think it's the only strategy. What he vehemently disagreed with was both the British plan to attack Portland, and the idea of attacking American ports. He felt that a purely economic blockade would be far more successful in bringing the Americans to the negotiating table.

American commerce raiders, while annoying, wouldn't be much more than a nuisance. There's a lot of reasons for this, but the main gist is the British would end up adopting the convoy system (as they did in 1812) and the fact that the British have powerful peacetime squadrons at pretty every major trade crossroads and control the important ports and coaling stations the world over - something Confederate raiders relied on which Union ships consequently cannot - means that the commerce raiding strategy will probably just be ineffective.

What terms do they want to impose on the Union? If it's to allow the Confederacy to succeed, it's going to be a very long war. They ended both the ARW, and the War of 1812 to cut their losses, what are they getting out of this war?
What they stated in their historic ultimatum. The release of the commissioners, and a public apology. If it came to fighting they'd probably demand more as the war escalated.

In 1812 they did not cut their losses. They lost nothing, while the United States gained nothing itself, but this time around it's unlikely Britain would be willing for a white peace.
 
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Agreed.

From my POV, the argument seems to be that the Union was so confident in its capabilities that it didn't even bother to try against the seceding Confederate States and kept enough forces in reserve that it could fight the world's preeminent superpower of the time and come out on top. The notion is ridiculous.

Perhaps the USA of the 1860s, whilst not fighting a friggin' civil war, would be a good match for the UK of the time; however, the notion that this was the case during the ACW which killed more Americans than any other conflict they've been involved in before and since and which cost the American treasury more money than they'd spent in the nearly nine decades since their independence, is close to ASB territory.

Northstar
Yes, Shelby Smith's 'one hand behind their back' quip has much to answer for.

Honestly you'd think the economic mismatch alone between the British Empire and the Union (ie loyal states) would put paid to the idea that this would be anything like an even fight.
 
Perhaps the USA of the 1860s, whilst not fighting a friggin' civil war, would be a good match for the UK of the time;
Even then, they'd probably need a few years to build up their forces before the war in order to be confident of at least forcing a draw. Trying to build up your army after the shooting starts is generally a bad idea, which is why countries that expect to fight wars on short notice generally keep large standing militaries even in peacetime.
 
Yes, Shelby Smith's 'one hand behind their back' quip has much to answer for.

Honestly you'd think the economic mismatch alone between the British Empire and the Union (ie loyal states) would put paid to the idea that this would be anything like an even fight.
Thinking of the British blockade of New England and the Hartford Convention during the War of 1812, a blockade of New England during the ACW might even have the New Englanders thinking, "hang on, if the federal government is going to get us into a war with the British every 50 years and we're all going to go bankrupt, then maybe those southern states have the right idea when it comes to secession."

They just want to trade, not be sent to invade Canada once per generation.

Even then, they'd probably need a few years to build up their forces before the war in order to be confident of at least forcing a draw. Trying to build up your army after the shooting starts is generally a bad idea, which is why countries that expect to fight wars on short notice generally keep large standing militaries even in peacetime.
Well IIRC one of the sources I linked, but that I'm loathe to revisit right now, mentioned the United States' standing army being 1/10th of the British Army when the ACW began. The bureaucracy involved in expanding their military was one of the reasons that the ACW was so costly to the Union.

Northstar
 
Worth adding that of the umpteen threads on when the US could unambiguously defeat the UK in a war, the consensus has eventually settled on sometime in 1890-1910, a date after the time period we're trying to discuss.
I suggest those thinking that dismissing American Exceptionalism means promoting British Exceptionalism go read those threads first before arguing that such a dichotomy exists.
 
Worth adding that of the umpteen threads on when the US could unambiguously defeat the UK in a war, the consensus has eventually settled on sometime in 1890-1910, a date after the time period we're trying to discuss.
I suggest those thinking that dismissing American Exceptionalism means promoting British Exceptionalism go read those threads first before arguing that such a dichotomy exists.
I was tempted to start a thread asking when members thought the Americans outclassed the British, so glad to see it's already been done to death.

Northstar
 
Yes, Shelby Smith's 'one hand behind their back' quip has much to answer for.

Honestly you'd think the economic mismatch alone between the British Empire and the Union (ie loyal states) would put paid to the idea that this would be anything like an even fight.
It is the combination of Britain being the bigger and more advanced economy AND actually having a Europan grand power military establishment and a military-industrial complex ready to go that makes this fight very uneven. The US did an admirable job of building an army capable of winning a war against an enemy at about the same technological level and conquering said enemy, and a navy capable of blockading said enemy's extremely long coastline in only 3 years. But it was built from scratch, and with a lot of weapons, nitrates and gunmetal imported. But make no mistake, it was built from scratch.
 
I was tempted to start a thread asking when members thought the Americans outclassed the British, so glad to see it's already been done to death.

Northstar
Hehe I could see it coming and didn't want to sit through the same arguments yet again. Especially as we've had a taster in this thread.
The early threads were interesting though as we got both avid Exceptionalists of both British and US varieties willing to over dramatise their cases.
The more recent ones tend to be more sedate, but more reasonable in generating the consensus.
 
Fair enough
Sorry, but you gave me the opportunity to be technically correct - and I couldn't pass that up.

What good is armor that doesn't stay attached to the backing?
What good is laboriously plinking away at an opponent's armour in the hope it drops off, while the opponent is scattering shot and spall across your deck and killing and injuring your gunners? Racking is the mid-nineteenth century equivalent of shooting at the opponent's rigging instead of into her hull, except the French didn't spend a fortune building guns that could only shoot above the enemy's deck and three decades convincing themselves it was money well spent.

plus, as naval guns, roundball skips across the water, unlike conicals that richochet in random directions after first graze on water
Which exacerbates the existing problem with the Dahlgren's low muzzle velocity:

'Ricochet firing... may take place at distances not exceeding 600 yards with considerable effect... The penetrating power of shot fired a ricochet is, however, much inferior to that of shot fired directly; and therefore in this respect, as well as for correctness of fire, the direct practice is, to a certain extent, the most advantageous. In firing to windward, the steep sides of the waves are unfavourable to practice; for shot striking those sides do not rise, or they soon lose their velocities'

again, if the 110s were fine in your opinion with so few problems from your view(ignoring the Japanese actions), why were they condemned from service?
Were they condemned from service - every single one of the guns yanked out of the ships they were in, because they were dangerous? Or were they slowly replaced by a different gun that matched or bettered the performance of the existing gun, but cost less?

Why did the 15" stay in service so long? It worked well enough, and then by 1865, the US stopped most military development
Why did the 110pdr leave service so early? It wasn't perfect, and the British continued to innovate. I fail to see how this is to their detriment, and to the Union's advantage.

Some of Dahlgrens testing in the 1850s, not going for heavier powder charges for maximum velocity, but slightly lighter charges gave better accuracy
Seems to me like it would have been easier to teach the gun captains to shoot:

'Men in Sea-going ships are to be encouraged to qualify themselves for "Acting Captain of Gun" under the instruction of the Gunnery Officer, in which case they need only be required to be perfect in the first three instructions, but each man before receiving his certificate must have fired at least the following number of rounds, and have proved that he can lay a gun quickly, and is a good and efficient shot:-
120 rounds from a rifle at objects distant from 200 to 800 yards...
20 rounds from a revolver pistol
30 rounds from a 6-pounder short practice gun, half being with motion
10 rounds from a great gun, half being with motion
On their arrival in England to pay off, they must pass through one of the Gunnery Ships to be confirmed in their present certificate, or to qualify for a higher grade.'
(Instructions for the exercise and service of great guns, etc., on board her majesty's ships, 1858)

'Captains of guns should be occasionally practiced in measuring the distances of objects by the eye'
(Ordnance instructions for the United States Navy, 1860)

I was speaking of Dahlgrens, not the Parrotts that blew muzzles off repeatedly.
OK. Given that you were responding to a statement that said "The US... had problems with bursting guns at times", can you see how some of us might think the fact that Parrotts 'blew muzzles off repeatedly' is somewhat pertinent?
 
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Sorry, but you gave me the opportunity to be technically correct - and I couldn't pass that up.


What good is laboriously plinking away at an opponent's armour in the hope it drops off, while the opponent is scattering shot and spall across your deck and killing and injuring your gunners?


Which exacerbates the existing problem with the Dahlgren's low muzzle velocity:

'Ricochet firing... may take place at distances not exceeding 600 yards with considerable effect... The penetrating power of shot fired a ricochet is, however, much inferior to that of shot fired directly; and therefore in this respect, as well as for correctness of fire, the direct practice is, to a certain extent, the most advantageous. In firing to windward, the steep sides of the waves are unfavourable to practice; for shot striking those sides do not rise, or they soon lose their velocities'


Were they condemned from service - every single one of the guns yanked out of the ships they were in, because they were dangerous? Or were they slowly replaced by a different gun that matched or bettered the performance of the existing gun, but cost less?


Why did the 110pdr leave service so early? It wasn't perfect, and the British continued to innovate. I fail to see how this is to their detriment, and to the Union's advantage.


Seems to me like it would have been easier to teach the gun captains to shoot:

'Men in Sea-going ships are to be encouraged to qualify themselves for "Acting Captain of Gun" under the instruction of the Gunnery Officer, in which case they need only be required to be perfect in the first three instructions, but each man before receiving his certificate must have fired at least the following number of rounds, and have proved that he can lay a gun quickly, and is a good and efficient shot:-
120 rounds from a rifle at objects distant from 200 to 800 yards...
20 rounds from a revolver pistol
30 rounds from a 6-pounder short practice gun, half being with motion
10 rounds from a great gun, half being with motion
On their arrival in England to pay off, they must pass through one of the Gunnery Ships to be confirmed in their present certificate, or to qualify for a higher grade.'
(Instructions for the exercise and service of great guns, etc., on board her majesty's ships, 1858)

'Captains of guns should be occasionally practiced in measuring the distances of objects by the eye'
(Ordnance instructions for the United States Navy, 1860)


OK. Given that you were responding to a statement that said "The US... had problems with bursting guns at times", can you see how some of us might think the fact that Parrotts 'blew muzzles off repeatedly' is somewhat pertinent?
HMS Warrior was only armored along her gundeck, the aft and forward quarters were unarmored. You could blow the stern, or bow off. The Warriors design was faulty, and was corrected on later designs.
 
The officers who would've been ordered to carry out a blockade thought it would be a tough job, because they didn't have enough of the right kinds of ships, but what did they know? They actually thought the Americans were ahead in some critical technological areas, but what did they know?
You should read what the other side had to say:

'About the middle of November we heard of the "Trent Affair"... In our then excited condition there was general exultation over Captain Wilkes' violent capture of the rebel emissaries. We had no idea of international law, and we viewed this violation of it as a proper exercise of our right to suppress the rebellion. Almost without exception the public expression was jubilant and laudatory. But soon came the menacing echoes from England, the outcry against the violation of neutral rights, the rapid military and naval preparations and the prospect of a foreign war superadded to our domestic troubles. There was some foolish ebullition of defiance, but to the thoughtful the prospect was very threatening and almost fatal. In case of war with Great Britain the brunt would have to be borne by New York. Its long sea coast, its great vulnerable metropolis, its long boundary at the north, coterminous with Canada, and its important ports on the great lakes, were all points of probable attack or invasion. So soon as the intelligence of hostile preparations in England reached this country, we who were engaged at the Governor's headquarters recognized the gravity of the situation, and that under existing conditions our State would have to provide largely for its own defence. Indeed there were many official and semi-official intimations from Washington that the threatened safety of that city would require the retention there of all the troops then near it, and that few could be spared from other quarters should there occur a declaration of war by England, as then seemed imminent — in other words, that we would have to take care of ourselves. This was a very serious consideration. Our organized militia, very feeble at the best except in New York city, had everywhere been weakened by the volunteering of a large part of its best element, since a considerable share of the officers in the new regiments had been drawn from the militia. There were several regiments within the State not yet completed, but they were comparatively few and at the best were raw and undrilled, and would count for little in a sudden contest with the disciplined soldiers of the regular British army. So far as the approach from Canada was concerned there was some relief in the imminence of winter, which would lock up the St. Lawrence in ice and make an invasion by land very difficult. We were more particularly concerned about New York city, which, as the largest and most important of our commercial cities, would be the principal objective point of a hostile navy, and England was then the best equipped naval power in the world...

'the engineers had decided that at least 300 pieces at the Narrows should be so mounted as to concentrate their fire upon a vessel passing between them, but not half that number were then available. At Governors, Bedloes and Ellis Islands only three-quarters of the armament had been supplied, though it is now evident that a fleet that had passed the Narrows might disregard these inferior works and readily destroy the city... In fact, the conditions of defence of the city were very faulty, and though the United States engineers had plans for completing the works and armaments so as to bring them fully up to the times, these would require years, and the dangers we were confronting were imminent...

'Some attention was also given to the defences on the lakes and northern frontier, though nothing practical was attempted...the construction of canals around the several rapids of the St. Lawrence river and of the Welland canal, connecting Lakes Ontario and Erie, would enable the British Government to place upon the great lakes a fleet of war vessels at the very outbreak of hostilities... Our Erie canal locks would not admit boats with more than 98 feet of length, 17 3/4 feet width and 6 feet draught, or of less than 100 tons. We would therefore have to depend upon fitting out the mercantile lake craft for naval purposes, and though I do not doubt that had the pressing occasion required such a recourse, we would have rapidly improvised an excellent navy on the lakes, we would still have been at a great disadvantage with our antagonist, who could have brought upon those waters its sea-going naval vessels of small tonnage...

'The terrible emergency never came, and the threatening war cloud that had so suddenly gathered from over the sea as suddenly passed away, but none of those who participated in the anxieties and discussions and bore a part of the responsibilities in those portentous days can forget them. Had the conflict ensued we should have been in a terribly unprepared condition, our harbor and frontier forts in bad condition, with very inadequate armament for them or for our improvised navies, and with only a raw, hastily gathered militia to encounter the British regulars seasoned in the Crimea and India. With little aid from the forces of the General Government, the menaced States would have had to depend upon such resources as each could gather within its borders... There was in the matter a plain reminder of the weakness of our coast and frontier defences...'

Colonel Silas W. Burt (former Assistant Inspector General of the New York National Guard), Memoirs of the Military History of the State of New York during the War for the Union, 1861-65.

Now, the thing is - as @EnglishCanuck has explained - those officers who would've been ordered to carry out a blockade are labouring under a misapprehension. They think that this whole thing is a dastardly ploy on the part of the Union: that they're going to abandon the war against the South and turn their full attention to the British, in the hope of salvaging some martial glory against an unprepared enemy after what has been a very humiliating few months. People like Colonel Burt, frantically scrabbling to prepare for a second war they are completely unable to fight? They have no such misapprehensions.

Taking their capital units out of the mix leaves near parity in naval strength in American Home waters, making it hard to maintain a blockade on a long coastline.
Why not take all the Royal Navy ships out of the mix, and make it even harder to maintain a blockade? After all, it's not as if the battleship was intended to play a sophisticated role in the enforcement of a blockade - acting as a depot for smaller gunboats, and a ship of force in the event that the US tries to launch a sortie with something that might be a more even match for the frigates, corvettes and sloops assigned to the force.

Incidentally, I do hope when you talk about 'near parity in naval strength' you're comparing like with like - not, say, elderly paddle steamers, sailing frigates, and commandeered merchant ships to purpose-built steam screw warships. Because it's a terribly easy trap to fall into...

In the event of war the Union planned to build a class of 17kt raiders, to prey on British Merchant ships.
These were the raiders that weren't completed until after the war, nearly universally failed to make their design speeds, and all suffered horrendous engine problems? They sound super.

Almost all guns of the period suffered failures. Breech Loading Krupp guns in the 1870 war had a very bad safety record, and had to be replaced after the war, but they were good enough to defeat the French in a short war.
Pretty effective argument in favour of the Armstrong gun - particularly as the Armstrong gun is only part of the British arsenal, and the Krupp gun was the whole of the German arsenal.

It's not the Middle Ages, wars are massively expensive in lives, and money. Britain is a mercantilist power, with global commitments, and assets to protect. The Government answers to the tax paying, monied classes, who don't like trade disrupted, or their taxes raised. One would hope their capable of rational calculation. Gain, and lose was their primary motivation in the Mid Victorian Era, not national duels of honor.
This isn't how historians characterise the period.

'A community, and early nineteenth-century Britain was no exception, recognizes honour by praising valour and honesty; it fosters shame by admonishing cowardice and deception. Honour was closely associated with virtue: society expected a gentleman to sacrifice his personal well-being for the good of the community and, by doing so, earn moral superiority and power... In foreign affairs, honour had the same meaning. It required officials, acting honestly and consistently, to honour their obligations by carrying a policy into effect even in the face of defeat... Honour was a practical, not an ideal, conception. Failure to act honourably provoked public outrage in the form of petitions to parliament and the possible loss of a majority in the house of commons... Honour governed what we today call 'linkage' or credibility because loss of honour would affect what Palmerston referred to as Britain's 'moral power' to influence the actions of other states by undermining confidence in its ability to follow through on its decisions. These states must not forget, when facing a British frigate, however small, for example, that the 'Flag of England must be respected'. In an era when policy was guided by the principle that Britain should not interfere in the internal affairs of other states, the ability to influence their behaviour was more important than in a period in which the use of force was the norm. However difficult for the late twentieth century to comprehend, honour as a motive for violence was taken for granted before the First World War. To dismiss it as a "veneer" tells us, sadly, rather more about the moral values of contemporary historians than it does about the motives of those with whom they deal.' (Glenn Melancon, 'Honour in Opium? The British Declaration of War on China, 1839-40,' International History Review vol. 21 no. 4 (December 1999), pp.857-8)

It isn't how the participants talked either.

'There is no doubt that all nations are aggressive; it is the nature of man. There start up from time to time between countries antagonistic passions and questions of conflicting interest, which, if not properly dealt with, would terminate in the explosion of war. Now, if one country is led to think that another country, with which such questions might arise, is from fear disposed on every occasion tamely to submit to any amount of indignity, that is an encouragement to hostile conduct and to extreme proceedings which lead to conflict. It may be depended on that there is no better security for peace between nations than the conviction that each must respect the other, that each is capable of defending itself, and that no insult or injury committed by the one against the other would pass unresented. Between nations, as between individuals, mutual respect is the best security for mutual goodwill and mutual courtesy; and there fore, in my opinion, the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government is one much more likely than that suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham to secure the continuance of peace.' (Lord Palmerston, explaining in the House of Commons why he almost went to war over the Trent)
 
Well IIRC one of the sources I linked, but that I'm loathe to revisit right now, mentioned the United States' standing army being 1/10th of the British Army when the ACW began. The bureaucracy involved in expanding their military was one of the reasons that the ACW was so costly to the Union.
I think the figure was around 16,000 at the start of the war.
 
I've always been fascinated by the possibility of this little affair turning into a World War. What do you think?
Not really. Russia was still smarting from the Crimean War, and while their navy was the 3rd in the world at the time, it was still woefully behind the British and French navies. They have no ability to project power anywhere. Their 1863 naval visit consisted of 3 steam frgates ad 6 steam corvettes. This move was to try to save some of the Russian navy (23% of the steam ships sailed to US ports) in case the French and British went to war over the Polish uprising the Russians had problems crushing and especially the French press was making noise about supporting.

Austria was happy selling arms to the Union, but had some interest in Mexico (although Maximilan was Austrian, it was mostly a French affair) and their navy is even smalled than the Russian one. They're smarting from their defeat at Solferino 1859 and reforming their army while still keeping Hungary under military ockupation and are grearing up for a confrontation against Prussia over the leadership in Germany. They're also keeping an eye on the Danish German provinces since he 1st Schleswig War.

Prussia dumped some of its older arms (smoothbore muskets) on the Union early war but was otherwise gearing up for a confrontation with Denmark. Its navy consisded of a few gunboats, to the extent that they had to ask Austria for help with dealing with the Danish blockade of the Prussian ports 1864.

Denmark is engaged in trying to keep Schleswig and Holstein and eying Prussia and Austria.

Sweden is in no shape for any foreign adventures at this time, although its navy is about the same size as the Danish and US ones.

Britain will fight to defend her interests and her Empire and to prevent any one European nation from becoming a hegemon, but is otherwise uninterested in anything that is not a colonial venture. The US is a friendly nation and a valuable trading partner that is in no way a threat to British interests at the moment and has not been since 1814.

France and Napoleon III likes to go on foreign adventures, but will do nothing without British approval. Napoleon III will only go to war without Britain against Prussia to prevent a strong unified Germany.

Spain is busy warring or skirmishing with its own former colonies in the Pacific at this time and lack the strength to intervene in any relevant way, and has little to no interest in the conflict.

So, to sum up.

Two countries has the ability to project any kind of power into North America in this era. France and Britain. France will not move without Britain. Britain has no interest in getting involved unless British interests are threatened

Prussia needs to deal with Austria before it deals with France in the unification process and is thus not an option to use against France in case of a Franco-British intervention. Austria has recently suffered a defeat and is reforming its army for an upcoming confrontation with Prussia over Germany. Their ability to project power is very low at the moment and they'll not venture far from northern Italy, their own territory and southern Germany. They'll only to to war against Italy or Prussia or Russia, but very reluctantly so. Russia is still reforming from the Crimean War and is upset at Austria for their lack of support during the Crimean War, considering the Russian support during the Hungarian War 1848.

So no, the American Civil War was largerly irrelevant on the world stage and would not trigger any kind of world war, not even with a Franco-British intervention (which is very unlikely).
 
1812 is still a good benchmark for the naval war. There's no American fleet to purposefully contest the British presence at sea, and their ships are not really going to be able to take the fight in a fleet to fleet action against the Royal Navy in 1862 anymore than they were in 1812, for very similar reasons. Single ship to ship actions don't matter when you can't break the blockade of your own harbors.



No, my assessment is that the Anlgo-Canadians, fighting on their home ground, will be able to hold off attacks by larger American forces. My significant exception to that is they can't hold the Western province, and Toronto would doubtless fall.

Like I said though, they can't attack Quebec right away for very practical reasons. Both American and British commentators agreed on this, I posted a link to Halleck's 1846 musings on the matter upthread, and needless to say he rules it out. The attack would be aimed straight at Montreal by the shortest and best supplied route up Lake Champlain. The British and Americans know this, and that would see the bloodiest fighting of the whole issue.

Wrapped in Flames, posted by Gunslinger at the start of this whole thread, pretty much sums up the opening moves of the war in Canada based on my own research of British and American sources.



That's the exact opposite of what I got from the Milne Papers when he discussed the possibility of blockading the Union. He seems to think it's the only strategy. What he vehemently disagreed with was both the British plan to attack Portland, and the idea of attacking American ports. He felt that a purely economic blockade would be far more successful in bringing the Americans to the negotiating table.

American commerce raiders, while annoying, wouldn't be much more than a nuisance. There's a lot of reasons for this, but the main gist is the British would end up adopting the convoy system (as they did in 1812) and the fact that the British have powerful peacetime squadrons at pretty every major trade crossroads and control the important ports and coaling stations the world over - something Confederate raiders relied on which Union ships consequently cannot - means that the commerce raiding strategy will probably just be ineffective.



What they stated in their historic ultimatum. The release of the commissioners, and a public apology. If it came to fighting they'd probably demand more as the war escalated.

In 1812 they did not cut their losses. They lost nothing, while the United States gained nothing itself, but this time around it's unlikely Britain would be willing for a white peace.
Admiral Milne didn't say what you said, in 1862. He might have said that before the fact.

10 March 1862 - Milne wrote to First Sea Lord (military commander of the Royal Navy, in contrast to the political First Lord of the Admiralty) Sir Frederick Grey: “If it had been war the great want would have been Frigates and Corvettes.... The Line of Battle ships would never have stood the gales and sea of the American coast. Every one of them would have been disabled, in fact I don’t see of what service I could have employed them. As to attacking Forts it much never be done by anchoring ships but by ships passing and repassing in rotation so as not to allow a steady object to the Enemy. Ships with larger draft of water are unfit for this mode of attack; you need not build any more. Their days are numbered except [against] France…. If she ever gets up a Navy.”

He didn't need Frigates, and Corvettes to attack ports, he needed them for a blockade, and he said there was a want of them. Logic would indicate the Admiralty was planning to use Ships of the Line to attack major ports, which he said would fail, and the capital ships would be of no service to him.

The convoy system, and blockade in the War of 1812 didn't prevent them from losing over 1,300 ships. Armed fast sailing raiders, that only use their engines to escape warships can stay at sea for months, refueling coal from captured British merchant ships, and using neutral ports in places like South America. Since the blockade is porous they can return to Union ports when they need to. The Union can build sea going ironclads, and engage RN squadrons that are near their ports. If the RN refuses battle, there is no blockade.

You said the union couldn't take Toronto because the British had a fleet on Lake Ontario, now you say the Union army could take it. What "Old Brains" thought about an attack on Montreal in 1846 has little to do with the situation in 1862. The calculations of both sides would be different 16 years later.

So all the Americans have to do is say their sorry for the Trent Affair? They said it was an unauthorized action, and sent Mason & Slidell to Canada. Regret wasn't a good enough word? Should Lincoln have sent a vial full of tears of regret for all the thousands of people who would be dead after this war would be over?
 
Not really. Russia was still smarting from the Crimean War, and while their navy was the 3rd in the world at the time, it was still woefully behind the British and French navies. They have no ability to project power anywhere. Their 1863 naval visit consisted of 3 steam frgates ad 6 steam corvettes. This move was to try to save some of the Russian navy (23% of the steam ships sailed to US ports) in case the French and British went to war over the Polish uprising the Russians had problems crushing and especially the French press was making noise about supporting.

Austria was happy selling arms to the Union, but had some interest in Mexico (although Maximilan was Austrian, it was mostly a French affair) and their navy is even smalled than the Russian one. They're smarting from their defeat at Solferino 1859 and reforming their army while still keeping Hungary under military ockupation and are grearing up for a confrontation against Prussia over the leadership in Germany. They're also keeping an eye on the Danish German provinces since he 1st Schleswig War.

Prussia dumped some of its older arms (smoothbore muskets) on the Union early war but was otherwise gearing up for a confrontation with Denmark. Its navy consisded of a few gunboats, to the extent that they had to ask Austria for help with dealing with the Danish blockade of the Prussian ports 1864.

Denmark is engaged in trying to keep Schleswig and Holstein and eying Prussia and Austria.

Sweden is in no shape for any foreign adventures at this time, although its navy is about the same size as the Danish and US ones.

Britain will fight to defend her interests and her Empire and to prevent any one European nation from becoming a hegemon, but is otherwise uninterested in anything that is not a colonial venture. The US is a friendly nation and a valuable trading partner that is in no way a threat to British interests at the moment and has not been since 1814.

France and Napoleon III likes to go on foreign adventures, but will do nothing without British approval. Napoleon III will only go to war without Britain against Prussia to prevent a strong unified Germany.

Spain is busy warring or skirmishing with its own former colonies in the Pacific at this time and lack the strength to intervene in any relevant way, and has little to no interest in the conflict.

So, to sum up.

Two countries has the ability to project any kind of power into North America in this era. France and Britain. France will not move without Britain. Britain has no interest in getting involved unless British interests are threatened

Prussia needs to deal with Austria before it deals with France in the unification process and is thus not an option to use against France in case of a Franco-British intervention. Austria has recently suffered a defeat and is reforming its army for an upcoming confrontation with Prussia over Germany. Their ability to project power is very low at the moment and they'll not venture far from northern Italy, their own territory and southern Germany. They'll only to to war against Italy or Prussia or Russia, but very reluctantly so. Russia is still reforming from the Crimean War and is upset at Austria for their lack of support during the Crimean War, considering the Russian support during the Hungarian War 1848.

So no, the American Civil War was largerly irrelevant on the world stage and would not trigger any kind of world war, not even with a Franco-British intervention (which is very unlikely).
Yes your right the United States was no threat to British Interests, there was no reason to intervene in the ACW. Tying down British Forces reduces their freedom of action if something that really threatens their interests in Europe, India, or some place that isn't a self created problem arises.
 
Admiral Milne didn't say what you said, in 1862. He might have said that before the fact.

10 March 1862 - Milne wrote to First Sea Lord (military commander of the Royal Navy, in contrast to the political First Lord of the Admiralty) Sir Frederick Grey: “If it had been war the great want would have been Frigates and Corvettes.... The Line of Battle ships would never have stood the gales and sea of the American coast. Every one of them would have been disabled, in fact I don’t see of what service I could have employed them. As to attacking Forts it much never be done by anchoring ships but by ships passing and repassing in rotation so as not to allow a steady object to the Enemy. Ships with larger draft of water are unfit for this mode of attack; you need not build any more. Their days are numbered except [against] France…. If she ever gets up a Navy.”

He didn't need Frigates, and Corvettes to attack ports, he needed them for a blockade, and he said there was a want of them. Logic would indicate the Admiralty was planning to use Ships of the Line to attack major ports, which he said would fail, and the capital ships would be of no service to him.
Have you actually read the Milne Papers? Or any of the other secondary sources talking about British discussions on a potential war with America or imposing a blockade? We know exactly what the British thought about the blockade and what they needed, we even know what Milne thought he needed. This quote has almost nothing to do with it.

The convoy system, and blockade in the War of 1812 didn't prevent them from losing over 1,300 ships. Armed fast sailing raiders, that only use their engines to escape warships can stay at sea for months, refueling coal from captured British merchant ships, and using neutral ports in places like South America. Since the blockade is porous they can return to Union ports when they need to. The Union can build sea going ironclads, and engage RN squadrons that are near their ports. If the RN refuses battle, there is no blockade.
According to Llyod's of London only 1,175, and the British recaptured 373, for a net loss of 802. Or maybe 7% of the British merchant marine was effected by American privateers, so essentially an annoyance. They're not likely to do much better in 1862. If they only use their engines to run, they won't really be able to use them to run down ships will they? That means they can't catch steamers, and they will be mildly ineffective.

They'll use South American ports eh? Pray tell what will the Royal Navy's South East Coast of America Station have to say about it? They have a squadron there already, not great for potential raiders.

You're just declaring the blockade would be porous without evidence so, whatever, unsupported assertion.

They can, but not quickly. The British will already have numerous ocean going ironclads in service since they started building them pre-war, and they can build or convert new ones probably faster than the Union can even build them. The Americans launch one, the British can probably match it with two. American ironclads won't be a particularly big deal if the British already have their own on station.

You said the union couldn't take Toronto because the British had a fleet on Lake Ontario, now you say the Union army could take it. What "Old Brains" thought about an attack on Montreal in 1846 has little to do with the situation in 1862. The calculations of both sides would be different 16 years later.
What? I've literally just corrected your continuously incorrect assertion the British felt they couldn't hold Canada west of Montreal. And yeah, the deciding factor for any campaign in Canada West would be a fleet on Lake Ontario, much like 1812.

What "Old Brains" thinks has a hell of a lot to do with it. The calculations on both side are pretty emphatically not different, and the British discussions say so, and simple geography does the rest, or did the geography of North America undergo substantial change between 1812 and 1862. In any event, "Old Brains" just happened to become General in Chief of the Union Army, so his opinion counts for a hell of a lot more than yours.

So all the Americans have to do is say their sorry for the Trent Affair? They said it was an unauthorized action, and sent Mason & Slidell to Canada. Regret wasn't a good enough word? Should Lincoln have sent a vial full of tears of regret for all the thousands of people who would be dead after this war would be over?
Literally, what are you talking about?
 
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