If the CSA does align with the analogue to the Central Powers, and loses, I can envision both the Confederacy and Germany going down a very very dark path, not unlike OTL for the latter.
 
I wish that the Confeds weren't aligned with Germany but otherwise I understand the flow of history here so keep up the good work señor!
 
Chapter VII: Naval Races, the Boxer Rebellion, the Tangier Crisis and Crystallizing Alliance Systems. 1898-1915.
Update time!!!

Chapter VII: Naval Races, the Boxer Rebellion, the Tangier Crisis and Crystallizing Alliance Systems. 1898-1915.

The future Nicholas had become first in line for the throne when his father Tsesarevich Alexander (Tsesarevich was the Russian equivalent to Crown Prince) had died of nephritis in 1894. His grandfather had educated Nicholas by having him attend meetings of the State Council, an advisory legislative body made up of people the Tsar trusted, as well as the Committee of Ministers and the Duma. From 1896 onward, Alexander II sent his grandson as his replacement to these meetings as he realized that his age was catching up to him and that in a few years the young Nicholas would have to be ready. During these few years Alexander II also influenced his grandson with his relatively liberal views and encouraged Nicholas to co-opt people rather than suppress them. In July 1898, Alexander II died of coronary issues he’d been diagnosed with several years earlier at the age of 80. His 30 year-old grandson was crowned Tsar Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, in Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral.

Emperor Wilhelm II, in the meantime, was well underway with his more confrontational foreign policy towards Great Britain in the hopes of pressuring the British into being friendlier towards Germany. He had a love-hate relationship with Britain as he admired the prestigious British Empire and was envious of it at the same time. Wilhelm II had long since wanted “a place in the sun” and this involved a large navy that could assist in obtaining colonies and defend them. He gravitated towards Rear-Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, who he appointed to the post of State Secretary for the Navy in 1897, a position which Tirpitz would hold for another twenty years. The 1898 Naval Law was Tirpitz’s brainchild and envisioned a navy of nineteen battleships, eight coastal iron clads, twelve large cruisers and thirty light cruisers. The 1900 Naval Law mandated a naval strength of 38 battleships, fourteen large cruisers, 38 light cruisers and 96 torpedo boats to be attained by 1920. Later amendments incorporated newer ship types like battlecruisers and U-boats.

Great Britain – as a result of Wilhelm’s erratic foreign policy, his plans to build a world class fleet rivalling the Royal Navy and his tactless public statements – was antagonized by Germany. As a result, the British improved their relations with France. Wilhelm tended to lord his title of Emperor over his uncle King Edward VII, but this was a decision made in Westminster and Whitehall rather than Buckingham Palace or Sandringham House. Whatever the case may be, Wilhelm had totally alienated the United Kingdom.

The Entente Cordiale, a series of agreements signed in April 1904, saw a significant improvement in Anglo-French relations. On the surface the agreement dealt with minor issues related to fishing and colonial boundaries. Egypt was recognized as part of Britain’s sphere of influence, and Morocco as part of France’s. The Entente was not a formal alliance and did not involve close collaboration, nor was it intended to be directed against Germany. However, it paved the way for a stronger relationship between France and Britain in the face of German aggression. The British viewed this as a way to tilt the balance of power back, as they believed the Triple Entente was weaker than the Triple Alliance.

In the meantime, however, a Nine-Nation Alliance of primarily Western powers emerged to deal with the Boxer Rebellion in China. After Dowager Empress Dowager had de facto deposed the Guangxu Emperor – thereby stymying his weeping reforms, which enjoyed support at neither the imperial court nor in the bureaucracy – martial societies and religious sects arose that became the anti-foreign, anti-colonial and anti-Christian Boxers. The rebellion had begun in 1899 after several natural disasters, including the Yellow River flooding and droughts the previous year.

After Empress Dowager Cixi declared war on the West and Boxers laid siege to the diplomatic Legation Quarter of Beijing, American, Austro-Hungarian, British, French, Confederate, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian troops came to stop them. Foreign troops were stationed in parts of China afterward and China was burdened with crippling indemnities. Accusations were levelled afterward against German, Russian, Japanese and Confederate troops for their ruthlessness and willingness to execute Chinese, sometimes even burning and killing entire village populations.

The United States and the Confederacy approached the outcome of the Boxer Rebellion very differently. US President Bryan upheld the Open Door Policy in regards to China. This was a policy established in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was enunciated by the Open Door Note. In order to prevent the “carving of China like a Thanksgiving turkey”, as they were doing in Africa, the Note asked the powers to keep China open to trade with all countries on an equal basis.

The administration of Confederate President Stephen E. Lee, again a former high-ranking officer who’d served in the War of Southern Secession, had an entirely different approach (Stephen E. Lee was not related to his predecessor Custis Lee and his legendary father General Robert E. Lee, and had won in 1897 as a candidate for the State Rights Party). In tune with prevailing racist and white supremacist convictions held by the country’s elites, the Chinese were seen as silly superstitious barbarians that could be utilized as a source of cheap labour. Unlike the US, the Confederacy pursued a concession and got one at the coastal town of Rizhao, which contained a natural deep-water seaport.

This unity among the Western powers was temporary, as demonstrated by the Tangier Crisis. The crisis had begun in the spring of 1905 when German Emperor Wilhelm II declared his support for the sovereignty of Moroccan Sultan Abdelaziz in a speech at the German legation, which amounted to a provocative challenge to French influence. Germany wanted a multilateral conference while France considered it unnecessary, though ultimately relenting rather than calling Germany’s bluff about going to war.

The Algeciras Conference would decide whether Morocco would fall under French or German influence. Besides finding a solution to the crisis, the conference was also intended to increase Germany’s international prestige. It was attended by fourteen nations: Austria-Hungary, Belgium, the Confederacy, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Morocco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

Two things resulted from the Algeciras Conference in 1906: firstly a division of Morocco into spheres of influence, and secondly a strengthened Anglo-French Entente Cordiale. Germany was backed up by the Confederacy, Italy, Russia and Spain and it appeared that this bloc of five powers would be outvoted by the other nine, which meant Berlin had to find at least two more votes. The German Ambassador in The Hague convinced the Dutch government to switch sides as Germany was the most important European trading partner of the Netherlands. The Moroccans switched sides on their own accord, convinced that playing the French and Germans against each other was better than becoming a protectorate of France. The delegations tied seven versus seven and the resulting compromise divided Morocco into a northern French sphere of influence and a southern German one which bordered the Spanish colony of Spanish Sahara. It was a slap in the face of France, which sought to further strengthen its cooperation with Great Britain from then on.

In the meantime, the Confederate States had been busy raising funds for their ambitious plans for a Nicaragua Canal (which would rival the Panama Canal that the United States had begun building in 1904). The place of the United States and the Confederacy in the European alliance system was clarified once it became clear who the investors behind the Nicaragua Canal Company were. The German government and a conglomerate of German industrialists each footed a quarter of the bill, i.e. $30 million each. The Company’s equity partners were Germans, who controlled 50% of its shares. The Confederacy of course owned the other 50%.

Construction on the Nicaragua Canal began in 1905 after the required $120 million had been gathered. Steam-powered excavators began cutting through the Rivas Isthmus towards Lake Nicaragua (the largest lake in Central America, 8.600 square kilometres or more than three times the size of Luxembourg). Simultaneously, a construction project began to dam the upper river valley of the Punta Gorda River to create a reservoir as part of the plan to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The water of the 400 square kilometre reservoir that formed behind the dam was used to fill the locks. The Nicaragua Canal became operational in October 1914, only two months later than the Panama Canal, and it too was capable of handling vessels up to 50.000 tonnes. The size of the ships was limited by the size of the locks, which were 30 metres wide and 350 metres long, and the canal’s 27.6 metre depth. The canal was 278 km long and 230 metres wide.

In the meantime, the Royal Navy had commissioned a battleship that revolutionized warship design and set the standard for all future designs: HMS Dreadnought. The ship’s entry into service in 1906 represented such an advance in naval technology that her name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the dreadnoughts, whereas preceding designs were disparaged as pre-dreadnoughts. HMS Dreadnought was the first battleship of her era to have a uniform main battery, rather than having a few large guns complemented by a heavy secondary armament of smaller guns. She was also the first capital ship to be powered by steam turbines, making her the fastest battleship in the world at the time of her completion. This obviously added a new dimension to the Anglo-German Naval Race as Germany had to respond by designing and building its own dreadnoughts.

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the meantime, a naval race was about to begin as well and this naval buildup can almost entirely be attributed to one man: President Alfred Thayer Mahan. Mahan was a former naval officer with a career stretching back to the War of Southern Secession: serving on USS Congress up to 1861, he was transferred to the steam corvette USS Pocahontas and took part in the Battle of Port Royal in South Carolina in November 1861, commissioned as a lieutenant. After serving on USS Worcester and USS James Adger, he rose through the ranks after the war: lieutenant commander in 1863, commander in 1869 and captain in 1882.

In 1883, he was appointed President of the Naval War College and wrote his seminal work The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783. Mahan’s views were shaped by 17th century conflicts between the Dutch Republic, England, France, and Habsburg Spain, and by the naval conflicts between France and Spain during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. British naval superiority eventually defeated France, consistently preventing invasion and an effective blockade. Mahan emphasized that naval operations were chiefly to be won by decisive battles and blockades. He emphasized the importance of naval power in the rise of great powers, pointing at the British Empire (his theories, however, offered no explanation for the rise of land empires like Germany and Russia).

Mahan’s political career, culminating in the Presidency, began when he was asked to serve as Secretary of the Navy in the Hayes Administration. He agreed with the more hawkish Republican stance towards the Confederacy and accepted the job offer, serving as Secretary of the Navy from 1885 until President Hayes departed the White House in 1889 following his electoral defeat by Grover Cleveland. Mahan, who ran as a Republican, was chosen by a majority of 56% in the New York State Legislature in the 1893 United States Senate election in New York, unseating incumbent Democratic Senator Smith Mead Weed. Despite the northeastern states becoming more Democratic under the Bryan Presidency, Mahan secured re-election in 1899 thanks to his moderate views.

Mahan had announced his intention to secure the Republican Presidential nomination in January 1903. He secured a comfortable majority in the Republican National Convention held in Albany, the capital of his home state of New York. He chose the fairly progressive Republican Senator of Ohio Mark Hanna at the risk of alienating the conservative wing of the Republicans, which now also included former Bourbon Democrats. The strategy behind this choice was the hope of drawing in swing voters, many of whom were fatigued by sixteen years of Democratic control over the White House. The Republican platform insisted on protective tariffs, called for increased foreign trade, pledged to uphold the gold standard, favoured expansion of the merchant marine and promoted a strong navy.

What helped the Republicans was that they’d won the 1902 midterm elections and held onto their gains in the 1904 US House of Representatives elections and the 1904-’05 Senate elections. The Republican members of the House of Representatives were held in line by a strong leader: Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt had been Mayor of New York City from 1895 to 1897 and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1898. He was subsequently re-elected three times and in the meantime became Majority Whip in 1902. After the 1904 elections, the 59th Congress voted for Roosevelt as Speaker of the House (in response some conservative Republicans and ex-Bourbon Democrats turned Republicans broke away to form the short-lived Conservative Party).

Alfred T. Mahan was inaugurated as the 24th President of the United States of America in March 1905. He focused on the world class navy that ought to propel the country to great power status and the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere. Congress passed the US Naval Act of 1907, which called for the construction of a powerful fleet composed of twenty battleships, ten large cruisers, 29 light cruisers and 72 torpedo boats over the next ten years. USS New Jersey, the first US Navy dreadnought and the lead ship of her class, was commissioned in 1909. Her sister ships USS Delaware, USS New York and USS Pennsylvania were all in service by 1910. These ships had twin turrets like most battleships of their time: there were five of them – two mounted fore as a superfiring pair, another superfiring pair mounted aft, and a single turret mounted amidships – with two 30.5 cm (12 inch) guns each. A later amendment to the 1907 US Naval Act mandated for large cruisers to mean battlecruisers. This effort would propel the US Navy to the position of the world’s third largest behind the Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy.

The Confederacy had to come up with a response, but struggled to find one for two whole years. The admiralty of the Confederate States Navy was well aware the United States had such a shipbuilding capacity and the necessary financial elbow room that they could easily outpace and perhaps even bankrupt the CSA if it tried to keep up. Upon entering office in March 1904 after winning the 1903 Confederate Presidential Elections, former Alabama Congressman President Oscar Underwood (D) appointed Admiral Albert Gleaves to the position of Secretary of the Navy (Underwood was the first Confederate President that hadn’t served in the War of Southern Secession). Gleaves’s task was to come up with a viable approach to turn the Confederate Navy into a force that could punch well above its weight at an expense explainable to John Q. taxpayer.

The result was the Confederate Naval Act of 1908. It provided for twelve battleships, eight battlecruisers, forty light cruisers, ninety torpedo boats and twenty submarines to be built by 1919. The ostensible centrepiece were the three Virginia-class dreadnoughts, of which CSS Virginia was the first: a 22.000 tonne ship with twelve 28 cm (11 inch) guns in six twin turrets mounted in a hexagonal arrangement only found outside the Confederate Navy on German Nassau-class and Helgoland-class dreadnoughts (this clearly showed who had helped them). Simultaneously, three New Orleans-class battlecruisers were laid down: these 17.000 tonne vessels had eight 28 cm (11 inch) guns in four twin turrets and had thinner armour than battleships, thus increasing their speed. The battleships would act as a fleet in being while the faster battlecruisers and light cruisers were to poke holes in the blockade the US Navy would most likely impose in the event of war while also attempting commerce raiding. The torpedo boats were to assist merchant ships trying to run this anticipated blockade while the untested submarine force was a wildcard.

In the late 1900s and early 1910s international tensions continued to remain high. Mohammed Ali Shah Qajar, the Shah of Iran, had been deposed for trying to overturn the new constitution of his country. He plotted his return from Odessa, as the Russians viewed the coup as a British ploy in the Great Game and fiercely denounced it. Meanwhile, tensions in the Balkans remained high, Anglo-German tensions over their naval race persisted and France remained revanchist under General Joffre (who had succeeded Boulanger upon his death in 1910. As to the Balkans, Bulgaria had formally renounced its status as an Ottoman Principality in 1908.

More powers were sucked into the alliance systems too: Spain was already a German ally, and formalized it by signing on to the Treaty of Königsberg, upgrading the Triple Alliance to a quadruple one. Not long thereafter, the secret protocol of the Russo-Japanese Convention was exposed, which infuriated the British who then unilaterally abrogated the Anglo-Japanese Alliance as Tokyo had clearly been double dipping. The Japanese annexation of Korea was subsequently denounced by Great Britain. This prompted Prime Minister Katsura Taro to strengthen his ties with Germany, Russia and Italy.

In 1909, Germany signed a Treaty of Friendship with the Confederacy as a ploy to threaten Anglo-French Caribbean interests. The Germans offered assistance to build up the Confederate States Navy and train its officers, sending a military mission. In 1914, a Confederate-German Alliance was finally signed that was the culmination of decades of fairly cordial relations. It required both signatories to come to the aid of the other if it became involved in a war with more than one power. This provision was clearly to keep the United States from intervening should the Confederacy meddle in a European war. The Confederacy effectively became a member of the Sextuple Alliance.

Yet none of this led to war. That seemed to imply that the Belle Epoque period marked by optimism, peace, economic prosperity, colonial expansion and technological, scientific and cultural innovations would carry on towards the 1920s and diplomacy would resolve conflicts, along with the occasional sabre rattling and gunboat politics. It was not to be. A war would erupt that would engulf the entire world: the Great War.
 
I'm not able to explain how much I've been enchanted by the fact that the United States President shared membership in a body politic that used to have a guy named Smith Mead Weed.
 
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Chapter VIII: The Great War, 1915-1919. Part I: Opening Moves
Update time! We finally get around to TTL's analogue of World War I. Given the length of this chapter, I've divided it into parts. The war has its casus belli in Europe, which is why part 1 will focus on the European theatre. More on the Confederacy's fortunes in war in part 2!


Chapter VIII: The Great War, 1915-1919.

Part I: Opening Moves

On Sunday May 2nd 1915, Mohammed Ali Shah Qajar finally launched his plans to retake the throne of Iran, which was currently being held by his own seventeen year-old son Ahmad Shah Qajar. With 10.000 Iranian soldiers supporting him, backed up by another 5.000 Russian Cossacks, he landed on the Caspian Sea coast and began his March on Teheran. The government evacuated Teheran and moved to Isfahan, in what was expected to be a temporary setback as the British surely wouldn’t allow the installation of a Russian puppet. The Russian move was akin to poking a beehive with a stick as the British, still reeling from the Home Rule affair, was infuriated by this unilateral Russian move. A diplomatic crisis began to fester with Great Britain demanding the withdrawal of the Cossacks, while Russia denied any Cossacks were there and said they were a “volunteer legion”. Britain mobilized the Grand Fleet and a war fever erupted in London and St. Petersburg.

Ten days later, on Wednesday May 12th, Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria was assassinated by a Macedonian nationalist in an attempt to avenge decades of forced “Bulgarization”. The Bulgarian nation was ideally to consist of Slavic Orthodox Christians and therefore Islam, the religion of Turkish and Gagauz minorities, was suppressed with the destruction of mosques, schools and homes (the goal was to remove Islam because it was the religion of the previous Ottoman rulers). This policy of forcibly imposing Bulgarian language and culture as well as Orthodox Christianity also affected Vardar Macedonia. It had become forbidden to print anything in the Macedonian, Romani, Serbian, Bosnian and Aromanian languages while Islam, the religion of one third of the region’s inhabitants, was forced underground. This had prompted the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) to assassinate the Tsar, the hated symbol of these policies.

The assassination elicited a response, ordered by Ferdinand’s successor: the 21 year-old Tsar Boris III. Boris vowed revenge and after the assassin was quickly apprehended he was sentenced to the gallows on the counts of regicide and treason, but to the young new Tsar that wasn’t enough. He ordered a partial mobilization of the military and 100.000 troops occupied Vardar Macedonia, which began to drag people out of their homes to forcibly relocate them elsewhere in the country. Methods like murder, rape and property destruction were used to coerce people to flee and not return so as to allow new settlers to come in and make the region homogeneously Bulgarian. This campaign amounted to ethnic cleansing at the least, if not outright genocide.

King Peter I was incensed and the Serbian government issued an ultimatum to Bulgaria to cease and desist, citing horror stories from ethnic Serbs who had fled from Macedonia to Serbia. To back up its ultimatum, Serbia carried out a partial mobilization of its own armed forces. In the meantime, Belgrade reactivated its long dormant alliance with Montenegro and secretly approached Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos about partitioning Macedonia between Serbia and Greece. Serbia, Greece and Montenegro together constituted the Balkan League.

Because it quickly became clear an attack by the Balkan League on Bulgaria would in all likelihood trigger a Russian response, Serbia very reluctantly involved its self-proclaimed patron Austria-Hungary as well as the Ottoman Empire. The Serbs in particular hated the Habsburg Empire, viewing the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a festering sore, but needed Viennese backing against the Bulgarians (they planned to turn against the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the longer term). Vienna joined and so did Constantinople, eager to avenge the defeat of 1878.

The Tsardom of Bulgaria – known as the “Prussia of the Balkans” because it could mobilize an army of 800.000 men – was a tough nut to crack, even if it didn’t have Russian help. The three members of the Balkan League believed Bulgaria would collapse under their weight if Austria-Hungary and the Sublime Porte backed them up. Plans on how to divide the spoils were quickly drawn up: Macedonia would be split between Serbia and Greece along a north-south line while the Ottomans would get Rumelia. They believed they could placate Italy by letting them annex the autonomous Principality of Albania, which has long since been part of the Italian sphere of influence anyway.

A chain reaction occurred that dragged the Sextuple Alliance and the Quadruple Entente into a global war. On Monday June 21st 1915, the Balkan League declared war on Bulgaria and invaded Macedonia, which is seen as the beginning of the Great War. Other historians view the formal declaration of war by Great Britain against Russia on June 25th as the start, resulting from weeks of fruitless and heated diplomatic exchanges over the situation in Iran.

Anyhow, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire declared war on Bulgaria in support of the Balkans League. Russia, now at war with the British, reciprocated to honour its alliance with the Bulgarians by declaring war on Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and the Ottoman Empire (Russia declared war on the rest of the Quadruple Entente powers in short order). Germany, Italy and Spain supported Russia by declaring war on Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and the three members of the Balkan League. As Germany was at war with more than one power, the Confederacy lived up to its agreement and declared war, declaring it would “answer the call of Von Steuben”. The Empire of Japan followed that example and declared war on the Entente powers too.

It was now that war plans that had been war gamed to death on land maps were put to the test, with France launching Plan XVIII. Plan XVIII, like Plans I to XVII, emphasized speed and like its predecessors was a variant of one strategy. The plan was to break through German forces defending Alsace-Lorraine after a rapid mobilization – using the heavily developed railway network of northern France that was designed for this purpose – and then cross the Rhine into southern Germany. Once the breakthrough and the subsequent river crossing had been achieved, the bulk of the French Army was to advance eastward to link up with Austro-Hungarian forces. Using their combined force, the French and the Austro-Hungarian armies would then march on Berlin from Bohemia.

It was felt that Italy, Russia and Spain would bow out of the war with Germany defeated. This was a strategy necessitated by the fact that the Habsburg Empire would be under siege from day one of the war. French planners assumed the Italians would not attack France and Austria-Hungary simultaneously and expected that Spain wouldn’t attack in any meaningful way at all.

They had a derisive opinion of Spain’s military capabilities anyway, which was a mistake. The Spanish Army had proven itself only a few years prior to the war during its “Portuguese Intervention”. King Manuel II of Spain and his wife Queen Augusta Victoria had been deposed by a military coup d’état in 1910, forcing them to flee to Spain. Augusta Victoria was the daughter of King Guillermo I of Spain and he ordered his army to march on Lisbon and reinstate his son-in-law and daughter as the rightful monarchs of Portugal. Thanks to a quick operation, with Prussian levels of efficiency and organization that the Portuguese had no answer to, the republican experiment was stillborn.

Meanwhile, it was not difficult to roughly predict what the opening moves of Germany, Italy and Russia would be as they surrounded the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Germans planned to invade Bohemia to deprive the Habsburgs of their realm’s main industrial core, where the bulk of their military production was located. Russia’s task was to invade Galicia and then fight its way through the passes of the Tatra Mountains and break through into the flat, open Great Hungarian Plain. Once that was achieved, Russian armies were to advance south along the Tisza and bisect Hungary. Lastly, Italy’s Regio Esercito had the job of advancing through the Isonzo River Valley, break out into the Slovenian Plateau and capture Ljubljana. From there Italian troops would be ideally positioned to march on Vienna and meet German armies coming from the northwest and Russian troops coming from the east.

In the meantime, the best plan that Chief of the General Staff of the Austrian-Hungary Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf could come up with was to hold out until help arrived. There really was no alternative, and the country’s defence spending had been geared towards that fact. The valleys and mountain passes through the Alps that Italian troops might take had been strengthened with powerful forts and it was the same for the routes the Russians would in all likelihood take through the Tatra Mountains. To defend Bohemia and Prague, a series of modern fortifications had been built in the Sudetenland region, which bordered Germany.

The Imperial German Army, widely considered the best and most professional military in the world, launched its invasion of Bohemia from staging areas around Nuremberg on June 26th under the watchful eye of Chief of the General Staff Karl von Bülow. Germany deployed the First through Third and the Eighth Army were part of this operation, facing three opposing armies. Aware of the heavy fortifications in the Sudetenland, the advancing Germans deployed heavy siege howitzers built by steel manufacturer Krupp with calibres of 30.5 cm (12 inches) and 42 cm (16.5 inches). These could lob heavy armour piercing shells that could penetrate even the most powerful armed concrete fortifications. Six Russian armies, the First through Fifth and Eighth, faced only three Austro-Hungarian ones. In June and July these carried out a fighting retreat towards the Tatra Mountains. In the face of more than 1.5 million Russians, the 950.000 defenders had no choice but to fall back to positions that were more defensible. Meanwhile, in the south the Italians were repelled in the First and Second Battles of the Isonzo.

In the west, in late June 1915, France launched Plan XVIII under the command of French leader and Field Marshal Joseph Joffre. The French Fourth and Fifth Armies attacked the heavily fortified regions around Thionville and Metz as a distraction, while the First, Second and Third attacked through the gap between Metz and Strasbourg. Their offensive, however, quickly bogged down in the face of determined resistance by four German field armies who incorporated the mountainous terrain of the Vosges Mountains into their defensive strategy. The arrival of the British Expeditionary Force – a force of 200.000 men commanded by Field Marshal Sir John French – didn’t change this.

Austria-Hungary’s position was precarious, but they managed to hold out, which changed when Romania joined the war near the end of the summer in late August. Romania was enticed by the prospect of annexing Transylvania, an area inhabited by a Romanian majority, which would also nearly double the country’s size. What helped seal the deal was that King Ferdinand I of Romania was the younger brother of King Guillermo I of Spain, both sons of the late King Leopoldo I of Spain who had died in 1905. Romania’s army was mediocre, but it could mobilize half a million men and Hötzendorf couldn’t muster more than a meagre screening force that was barely two fifths that number to defend Transylvania. Vienna started screaming for help.

Romania’s entry into the war made the Habsburg position acute and it didn’t help that Bulgaria managed to hold its own, which in part can be attributed to Russian and Italian efforts. Russian troops harassed the Ottomans in the Caucasus Mountains, forcing them to divert forces away from their offensive against Bulgaria. Simultaneously, Italian troops stationed in the nominally Ottoman Principality of Albania attacked Greece. This resulted in a slogging match in the mountainous terrain of the Dinaric Alps in Southern Epirus, which tied up significant Greek forces.

France responded to its ally’s plight by proposing Plan XIX, which boiled down to violating Belgian neutrality to circumvent German border defences and invade Germany, taking the Ruhr Area which was its largest industrial core. If they were successful, the heart would be ripped out of the German war effort. After the French got the British to reluctantly agree to this course of action, an ultimatum was presented to the Belgian government and King Albert I that demanded that their armies would be allowed to advance through Belgium. Belgium rejected this ultimatum, citing the Treaty of London of 1839 that guaranteed its independence and neutrality (it had been signed by Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, the German Confederation, Great Britain, France and Russia at the time).

In the first week of September 1915, the BEF and French forces invaded Belgium. The BEF cut off the garrisons of the forts around Antwerp while the French surrounded and isolated the fortresses around Namur and conquered Brussels. The majority of the mobilized Belgian regulars withdrew east, where they would meet three German corps sent to reinforce them. The Entente advance through Belgium halted as Belgian and German troops dug in along the Meuse, Ourthe and Our rivers – destroying the bridges across them – and in the Ardennes. The Ardennes– a region of extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and high ridges – was an ideal place to mount a defence. That was what the Belgians did, with King Albert leading the country from Verviers, while Liège with its ring of forts became a besieged frontline city that would end up being devastated. Germany cited the old 1839 treaty to legitimize its support and decried the unprovoked Anglo-French invasion as “the Rape of Belgium”. The Confederacy joined the chorus and prepared to fight its own little war in the Caribbean.
 
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Part II: The Demise of the Habsburgs and the Fall of France
The war continues.


Part II: The Demise of the Habsburgs and the Fall of France

Far from Europe, the Confederacy had waged its own war which was like a walk in the park compared to the large scale European battles. The Confederate States Navy carried out a series of amphibious landings that focused on nearby French territories. Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin and French Guiana had all fallen by autumn and the Confederate army installed military governors to enforce their rule. The campaign was an almost leisurely affair that was over before autumn. British Caribbean colonial holdings were carefully avoided because President James E. Ferguson (State Rights Party) wanted to wait and see events in Europe unfold before attacking the British Empire, the most powerful country in the world.

The Empire of Japan had taken action as well, coordinating its efforts with the Russian Pacific Fleet based in Vladivostok and the Spanish Pacific Squadron based in Manila. The Russians had six battleships, four obsolete protected cruisers and fourteen destroyers while Spain had one pre-dreadnought battleship, seven protected cruisers, twelve destroyers and six gunboats (Spain’s only dreadnought at the time, España, was not involved as it was stationed in the Mediterranean).

Japan focused on French Indochina. An Imperial Japanese Navy armada of five battleships, 29 cruisers, three gunboats, 21 destroyers, 45 torpedo boats and 22 auxiliary vessels commanded by Admiral Togo Heihachiro supported the amphibious landing of an entire division on Hainan Island despite Chinese neutrality (the French had little to oppose this with, as the bulk of their fleet was in the Mediterranean, worried about Italian and Spanish naval activity). Using this island as a forward operating base, a Japanese fleet supported the landing of three divisions in the Gulf of Tonkin. This force commanded by General Count Kuroki Tamemoto took Hanoi and in eight weeks advanced as far south as Hue, where they captured the 14 year-old Emperor Duy Tân. Further west they also captured Vientiane. The boy Emperor immediately renounced French rule and signed a “treaty of protection” with Japan. The Imperial Japanese Army crossed the Perfume River and by October 1915 controlled French Indochina. This prompted Siam to join the Sextuple Alliance to regain some of the territories it had lost to Britain.

In the meantime, the United States maintained an openly pro-Entente neutrality (despite the widely condemned Anglo-French invasion of Belgium) and was waiting for a casus belli to enter the war. It was about to fall into President Charles E. Hughes’s lap and would be glad for it, for he considered the Confederacy a repugnant blight that doled out the same kind of unfreedom that the United States had fought against in its struggle for independence in the first place. At this point, both sides of the aisle in Congress were unsympathetic to the South, but were divided on the question about whether it would be desirable for these states to be readmitted into the Union.

British ocean liner RMS Titanic was coming back from New York, headed for Liverpool, and German submarine U-19 torpedoed her off the Irish coast on October 21st 1915. Of the 2.200 people on board, 600 were Americans. As there were too little lifeboats to begin with and the ship began to capsize, which meant only half the lifeboats could be used, only about 400 people made it off Titanic without ending up in the cold water of the Atlantic. Royal Navy cruiser HMS Isis had picked up Titanic’s distress calls and arrived, rescuing hundreds of people from the water before they froze to death. The disaster cost the lives of 1.400 people, but the Germans justified that by declaring the ship had been carrying contraband of war to Britain.

For President Hughes it was enough to have Congress pass a declaration of war against Germany and its allies, including the Confederacy. Uncle Sam posters went up saying “we want you” or “remember Titanic” and still other posters depicted French national symbol Marianne and said that it was time for America to “answer the call of Lafayette”. There were plenty of volunteers who signed up, but even if there hadn’t been then the US Army had plenty of reservists to call up due to the draft instated by President Grant.

For the Habsburgs it was too late. By autumn 1915, Austria-Hungary’s position had clearly become hopeless: following Romania’s opening offensive into Transylvania, Habsburg defences in Bohemia, the Tatra Mountains and the Isonzo Valley all gave way. Their manpower was simply spread too thin. German troops took Prague in October and thereby conquered the heart of Austro-Hungarian war production while the Russians and Italians finally broke through too. General Nikolai Ivanov’s forces managed to push through the Tatras and began their advance southward through Hungary along the Tisza River. Shortly before winter, Italian forces commanded by General Luigi Cadorna broke out into the Slovenian Plateau. In November, Austria-Hungary formally surrendered unconditionally and quit the war before Vienna became a battlefield, failing to secure guarantees about the Habsburg Empire’s territorial integrity in the armistice negotiations. Its territories were occupied by foreign soldiers that would remain in place until the end of the war.

This was an absolute nightmare for France as its fears of encirclement would now come true. Germany and Italy could now transfer the bulk of their troops westward. Germany, Italy and Spain could now attack France from three sides. Their only hope was that significant American reinforcements would come, but much of the US Army would be tied down fighting the Confederacy. Not only that, but French Army had overstretched itself by invading Belgium, a move that had also cost Paris a lot of sympathy from neutral powers.

German Chief of Staff Field Marshal Karl von Bülow wasted no time and ordered three armies to reinforce the northern part of the front in eastern Belgium, planning to launch an offensive through Belgium into northern France. The offensive was to begin as soon as the winter cold had caused the muddy autumn soil to become solid again, solid enough for German army boots to march on. By then a force of a third of a million men massing west of Turin was ready to attack France from the southeast while a quarter million Spaniards were waiting for orders to cross the Pyrenees. They all awaited the weather reports while the French were in fear of what would be unleashed once the silence before the storm inevitably ended.

That day came on Sunday December 5th 1915 when an artillery barrage starting at 07:00 AM, announcing the German counteroffensive. At the same time, Italian forces advanced across the border with the objective of capturing Toulon, the French Navy’s Mediterranean base, and then Marseille where they were to meet the Spaniards. The French mounted a defence at the town of Menton and in more than a month of fighting there against the Italians it was completely destroyed. In early January, the Italians decided the Battle of Menton in their favour and broke out in a westward direction to meet Spanish forces which had fought in passes in the Pyrenees in the most difficult winter circumstances.

By then German soldiers had driven the British and French out of Antwerp and Brussels – though King Albert was granted the honour of parading through the city first at the head of a Belgian division – and were well on their way to liberating all of Belgium. That would enable the Imperial German Navy to base ships at Ostend and threaten the English Channel. As German forces stood poised to enter northern France, French artillery launched a bombardment with phosgene gas in the hopes of stopping them. It stopped them only temporarily and the Germans retaliated with chlorine gas and phosgene themselves.

The Imperial German Army resumed its advance and managed to speed it up after the Italian and Spanish breakthroughs in the south, crossing the river Aisne at Soissons in mid-January which put them 75 kilometres away from the outskirts of Paris. At the same time, German forces commanded by Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, managed to fight their way through French lines on the Alsace-Lorraine front. By the end of the month artillery fire could be heard in the distance and in a panic countless Parisians began fleeing the city. Two Russian corps totalling 90.000 men arrived at the front to provide support, though by this time the defeat of France was imminent even without their help. Tsar Nicholas II just wanted to see some Russians parading on the Champs-Élysées

By early February 1916, Paris was on the verge of falling with German troops in Chantilly, just twenty kilometres from the capital’s outskirts. In the south the Italian tricolour was already flying over the old port of Marseille while in Toulon French captains had scuttled their ships to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Italian commander Luigi Cadorna was preparing for an advance north along the Rhône River to meet up with German forces at the river Loire. Joffre tendered his resignation to King Philippe VIII after informing him that the military situation was completely and utterly hopeless, after which he was replaced by General Maurice Sarrail as the leader of the ruling junta. Prime Minister Sarrail sent the request for an armistice to Germany and its allies on February 7th.

On Thursday February 17th 1916, a French delegation was given free passage through the German frontline to go to the Château de Chantilly to sign the armistice agreement in the presence of German, Russian, Italian, Confederate and Spanish delegations. The French were shocked by what they considered egregious terms, but the Germans were adamant as this was the second time in under fifty years that France had gone to war against Germany (ignoring for the moment that this time Germany had declared war on France instead of the other way around). After only eight months, the war was over for France

Under the terms of the armistice agreement, France would be occupied until the end of the war and was divided into three occupation zones. The German occupation zone encompassed everything north of the Loire River and everything south of it was split equally between Spain and Italy. The French government was to pay for all costs of the occupation. Their delegation had no choice but to sign as the French Army was on the verge of collapse, though some commanders had proposed zany schemes to disperse the army so it could continue fighting a partisan war. Those proposals had been rejected as that would prolong and probably worsen the suffering of the French civilian population. And therefore the prostitutes working on Place Pigalle in Paris would come to service German soldiers for the foreseeable future.

The collapse of France also made the position of the British Expeditionary Force headed by Field Marshal Sir John French untenable. Under the cover of the powerful guns of the Royal Navy, the BEF was evacuated through the French port city of Le Havre to Britain. There it would stay as a fear took hold that the Germans might try to launch an a cross-Channel invasion. The soldiers that had previously fought in France, now built bunkers and other defences on the likeliest locations of a German invasion somewhere on the southern English coast.

The evacuation from France did not mean that the British Empire simply stood by, but its attention shifted towards supporting the Ottoman Empire as that was the only other European power still fighting. It was quite ironic that countries seen as militarily superior had been defeated while the “sick man of Europe” was still standing. The British Indian Army deployed 100.000 men, known as the Indian Corps, to Basra along with Australian, Canadian and New Zealand soldiers in March 1916. They were sent to East Thrace to hold back the Bulgarians, who were now free to focus all their attention on Constantinople as Serbia, Montenegro and Greece had been forced to surrender after the collapse of Austria-Hungary and France. Sultan Mehmed V proclaimed a jihad, a holy war, and appealed to some of the Muslim soldiers in the Indian Corps that way

British Indian, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand forces in the Ottoman Empire were placed under the command of Field Marshal Sir Herbert Kitchener and grew to nearly half a million men. Britain’s leaders now accepted that this would be a long war, but believed it could still be won by Anglo-American power (the truth about American help, however, was that most of the attention of the United States was devoted to the war against the Confederacy). The British hoped to land in the Crimea and defeat Russia in a repeat of the Crimean War, which they believed would compel Germany and Italy to come to the negotiating table. For now, the stalemate in East Thrace and in the Caucasus remained unchanged.

The United States were busy fighting their own war. After the United States had declared war, US Chief of Staff General John J. Pershing launched a two-pronged incursion in early spring 1916 that quickly grinded to a halt despite initially deploying almost two million men. Pershing’s plan entailed an invasion of Virginia to capture the enemy capital of Richmond, while the second half of his forces would launch an advance along the Mississippi River from North Missouri in an attempt to cut the Confederacy in half.

Successive Confederate commanders had spent more than fifty years preparing for a renewed war against the United States and Chief of Staff of the Confederate States Army General Robert E. Lee III used those preparations to his advantage. Pershing’s Mississippi Offensive stalled when it hit the web of powerful, elaborate and interconnected fortifications that had been built precisely to stop such an advance. The invasion of Virginia was blocked by a determined defence and was followed by the “Race to the Mississippi” as US and CS forced tried to outflank each other.

Neither side was successful and began digging elaborate systems of trenches that crisscrossed large parts of Virginia and Kentucky by April 1916. What followed was a war of attrition with both sides launching costly offensives. The attacks employed massive artillery bombardments and massed infantry advances. Entrenchments, machine gun emplacements, barbed wire and artillery repeatedly inflicted severe casualties during attacks and counter-attacks and no significant advances were made.

Pershing’s first attempt to break the stalemate was an offensive in Kentucky, that became known for the battles of Lexington, Louisville and Paducah, to which he committed sixty divisions. It was launched in June and all along the frontline in Kentucky US troops launched countless “attacks with limited objectives” to maintain a persistent unrelenting pressure on the Confederates. Pershing believed Lee would undoubtedly commit his strategic reserves here, where the US Army would exhaust them in this meatgrinder. The US Army’s strategy here, using its numerical advantage, was to try to exhaust the CS Army and force it to weaken other sectors of the front by sending reinforcements here. In short, Pershing hoped to sap Confederate strength with his Kentucky Campaign.

Lee’s response to the US strategy was to play defence. Rule of thumb for an attack was that it required a 3:1 numerical advantage in order for it to have a good chance at success, but the actual US advantage was closer to 2:1. He transformed the trench systems in Kentucky to an elaborate defence in depth with barbed wire, landmines, booby traps, machine gun nests with overlapping fields of fire and bunkers. It worked because the US effort became too costly, which led to Pershing ending the operation after nine months in March 1917.

New military technology was used widely by both sides, such as chemical weapons. Even the use of mustard gas and phosgene towards the end of the battle by both sides, however, made no difference. Neither did the first appearance of a tracked armoured vehicle known as a tank: a tracked armoured vehicle had been proposed before by engineers in other countries, and US engineers refloated the idea. It would be like a battleship on land with thick steel armour and a turret on top with a gun while caterpillar tracks provided mobility even on poor terrain.

Some Confederate soldiers panicked and ran when they first saw one of these metal behemoths, but they soon proved vulnerable as their top speed was just 7 km/h. The armour on the US Army’s Mark I was 8-22 mm, it had a 37 mm gun in the turret and a 0.303 calibre (7.7 mm) machinegun in the hull. These same 0.303 calibre machine guns were mounted on aircraft, which initially served in reconnaissance roles but later also as fighters and bombers. Every major power had established some kind of air service after the first successful flight with a heavier-than-air aircraft (it’s still hotly debated whether the Wright brothers were first with their flight in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, or if German inventor Gustav Weisskopf narrowly beat them to it).

In the meantime, naval confrontations in the North Sea and off the Danish coast between the Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy in August 1916 and March 1917 had proven inconclusive, which prompted the Germans to resort to different means to bring the war to Britain as an invasion wasn’t in the cards for now.
 
Ah yes the Confederacy, the land of little to no industry somehow manages to stalemate the USA, one of the worlds greatest industrial powers.
 
Ah yes the Confederacy, the land of little to no industry somehow manages to stalemate the USA, one of the worlds greatest industrial powers.
Building fortifications and hunkering down in trenches is pretty easy for any competent military force, and manufacturing rebar, concrete, and ammunition is not impossible for the Confederacy. It's on the defensive which affords it the strategic advantage for now but long-term yeah it's probably doomed.
 

NedStark

Kicked
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Confederacy rapidly industrialized between 1866 and 1916, did it not?
Building fortifications and hunkering down in trenches is pretty easy for any competent military force, and manufacturing rebar, concrete, and ammunition is not impossible for the Confederacy. It's on the defensive which affords it the strategic advantage for now but long-term yeah it's probably doomed.
Ah yes the Confederacy, the land of little to no industry somehow manages to stalemate the USA, one of the worlds greatest industrial powers.
In OTL World War I, there was a thing known as "Shell Crisis" that was a tough nut to crack for even Britain and other premier European powers - I cannot see the Confederate coming out of it with their coasts blockaded and their lands under direct assault.
 
Ah yes the Confederacy, the land of little to no industry somehow manages to stalemate the USA, one of the worlds greatest industrial powers.

CSA begun some industrialisation already in 1890's so it had 20 years tome make some basic undustries. And IIRC it had already pretty good railroad network at this point. Furthermore I am sure that CSA got lot of German support.
 

NedStark

Kicked
CSA begun some industrialisation already in 1890's so it had 20 years tome make some basic undustries. And IIRC it had already pretty good railroad network at this point. Furthermore I am sure that CSA got lot of German support.
Germany simply could not break a double blockade by both the US and Britain.

I mean, in the OTL shell crisis, even the likes of Britain struggled.
 
Part III: Victory
Update time! Sorry for the wait. I've been ill with a serious cold that I've only just managed to shake off.


Part III: Victory

A number of Long Max 38 cm (15 inch) railway guns were rolled up to Calais and began lobbing shells at Dover, but the Germans wanted to hit London. In June 1917, the England Gun began firing: the gun consisted of welded together 38 cm (15 inch) gun barrels with a tube inserted to reduce the calibre to 203 mm (8 inches) and extra propellant charges built into the sides of the gun, all of which was mounted on a turning table atop a concrete emplacement outside Calais. The gun’s firing range was 150 km thanks to the propellant charges and the shell reached an altitude of 48 km. That was enough to strike right at the heart of London, though with such low accuracy that the installation was really only useful as a terror weapon. It kept firing until the barrel wore out and had to be replaced. A second England Gun became operational just before Christmas 1917. The aerial bombings using zeppelins and Gotha G.IV bombers were similarly inaccurate, though worrisome enough for the royal family to relocate to Balmoral Castle in Scotland after one bomb shattered some windows of Buckingham Palace.

These efforts inspired the Confederate leadership to undertake similar efforts. They intended to punish US citizens far from the front in their comfortable homes for their government’s decision to go to war against the Confederacy and their popular support for it. South of Fredericksburg, Virginia, a weapon similar to the England Gun was constructed known as the “Gun of the South”. Slightly less ambitious than its German cousin, this weapon could fire 6 inch (152 mm) shells at Washington. As this gun was just as inaccurate in hitting anything smaller than a city as its German inspiration, it was a matter of sheer luck that one shell hit the dome of the Capitol Building in July 1917, causing serious damage. It was a shock to US public opinion.

It also justified Pershing’s plans for a renewed offensive into Virginia, resulting in the bloody and inconclusive Battle of Fredericksburg. The battle began in September 1917 and lasted until February 1918. The battle was labelled a success because the US Army had managed to advance ten kilometres (six miles) into Virginia in a single offensive, the most significant progress in nearly two years. The war heavily taxed the Confederacy, but it was anything but ready to quit. President Hughes had stated the only peace would be one in which North and South were reunited, which was anathema to the South. The idea of “American Reunification” was pretty much dead in the South, except among African Americans who hoped they’d get better treatment under northern white rule.

In the meantime, New York City had become the target of another new tactic devised by the Confederate States Army Air Service (CSAAS) called “strategic bombing”. A fleet of twelve Confederate zeppelins had been built prior to the war under license with the permission of the Zeppelin Company in Germany. After first using them for aerial reconnaissance, they were now repurposed as long distance strategic bombers. Two zeppelins departed from Fayetteville, North Carolina, and used the low cloud cover provided by autumn weather to hide. On Sunday September 9th 1917 they appeared in the skies over New York and used the Woolworth Building, the world’s tallest building at the time, for orientation. They dropped four tonnes of bombs on the Lower East Side, killing 22 people and injuring 57 whilst seriously damaging a handful of residential buildings and making their inhabitants homeless.

Zeppelin bombings became a regular occurrence and primarily targeted Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. The US tried to mobilize public opinion by stimulating outrage over these bombings of civilian targets. The Confederacy tried to counter it by dropping leaflets from the air citing US aggression as the reason for these attacks. Moreover, the Confederacy saw its retaliatory bombings as mere pinpricks compared to the US attempts at a naval blockade aimed at starving the South’s civilian population.

In the meantime, the Ottoman Empire’s end was near too by late 1916. Germany sent two armies to the East Thracian Front to help the Bulgarians and the Italians sent one corps, coordinating with the Russians to knock out Great Britain’s sole remaining ally in Europe. The isthmus of East Thrace was easily defensible because it was so narrow and it was crisscrossed by a defence in depth of trenches that was so deep and elaborate that it was believed to be impenetrable. The fighting became grimmer as the Germans introduced chemical weapons like mustard gas and phosgene and digging tunnels to blow up Turkish defenders from beneath with tonnes of explosives and poke a hole. At one point a room dug underneath a Turkish trench was filled with 3.000 tonnes of TNT. The 3 kiloton explosion, the largest manmade explosion at that point, enabled the Germans to move into the first trench, prompting the Ottoman Army to retreat to the next. After that it was rinse and repeat until the British provided equipment to listen for digging Germans, while the Germans too first introducing something they called a Panzer. Progress remained slow and bloody.

Russia opened up another front from Iran. Mohammed Ali Shah Qajar, the Shah of Iran reinstated by Cossacks, allowed the Imperial Russian Army to operate from his territory and attack the eastern border of the Ottoman Empire. Half a million men were involved, which had slowly been moved here after Austria-Hungary’s surrender. This had not been easy as infrastructure in the area was not ideal. The mountainous geography was not ideal for an offensive either, but the Russians attacked anyway towards Kirkuk and this new front put even more pressure on the beleaguered Ottomans.

In the meantime Greece, a former ally of the Ottomans against their mutual Bulgarian enemy, now declared war on the Sublime Porte. The Greeks had made peace the previous year as Austria-Hungary’s surrender meant Italy could devote all its attention and resources to the front in South Epirus. It was had to choose between ceding South Epirus and Corfu to Italy or fighting on and risking worse terms. They chose the former. This led to an upsurge in Greek nationalism that inspired various politicians to rail against the traditional Ottoman enemy. Simultaneously, Prime Minister Venizelos had been busy getting back into Russia’s good graces knowing the Tsar would have the final say on how the Ottoman Empire would be partitioned. Using its three battleships, the Hellenic Navy successfully carried out an amphibious landing on the islands of Imbros and Tenedos.

The Ottoman Empire finally collapsed in May 1917. More German troops increased the pressure and they advanced far enough to put Constantinople within artillery range. That prompted Sultan Mehmed V to relocate his court to Ankara, a move that didn’t do the morale of his soldiers any good as they felt they were being abandoned after all his talk of jihad. Meanwhile, the Russian Black Sea Fleet launched a daring plan, using its superiority over the Ottoman Navy and the fact that the waters directly north of the Bosporus had been mined so heavily the Royal Navy couldn’t risk entering. Russian battleships Imperatritsa Mariya, Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya and Imperator Aleksandr III, with their mighty 30.5 cm (12 inch) guns, and a supporting force of cruisers and destroyers covered the landing of three divisions at Sinop. They seized Sinop and its seaport. Sinop was more than 500 km from Constantinople and the bridgehead was contained, but the defence of the capital was weakened as more troops were sent to guard the Anatolian coastline and prevent an attack on the city from the rear. The city’s defences collapsed and Constantinople fell, prompting the surrender of the Ottoman Empire on May 7th 1917.

In the meantime, Italy was ready to launch an ambitious operation of its own in the Mediterranean Sea: the June 1917 invasion of Malta, codenamed Operation Proteus. The Regia Marina had begun the war with six dreadnought-type battleships, but this had increased to ten as Austria-Hungary had neglected to scuttle its Tegetthoff-class battleships. Italy had claimed all four as war prizes and had spent a year integrating them into their navy, time spent primarily on training the sailors required to crew them. Using a naval support force of six battleships, including three of the new acquisitions, two assault divisions totalling 20.000 men landed and seized the islands.

Meanwhile Gibraltar was under siege by Spain, something the British had seen coming the moment the Spanish joined the war on Germany’s side. Spain had been hard hit by a Royal Navy blockade in the beginning of the war, but after France had been defeated the Mediterranean nation with its German monarch had become the recipient of German and Russian supplies of steel, wheat and oil delivered overland by train (after 1870, Spain had adopted the standard gauge of 1.435 mm used in most of Europe). After besieging the Rock of Gibraltar for two years – incessantly pummelling it with 30.5 cm (12 inch) and 42 cm (16.5 inch) fired by German Krupp “Big Bertha” siege howitzers – Spain finally attacked. After a month of bitter fighting, the Spanish tricolour finally flew over Gibraltar after two centuries of British rule.

Japan was also emboldened by a victory over the mighty British in Southeast Asia. After conquering French Indochina, Japan had spent quite some time consolidating its rule over its new colony whilst sending troops to support Siam’s attempts to recover territories lost to British India during the preceding decades. As the tide in Europe turned, the Imperial Japanese Army summoned up the courage to invade British territory: Count Kuroki Tamemoto, now promoted to Field Marshal, commanded 60.000 Japanese and 5.000 Siamese troops who invaded Malaya in July 1917. The British, who had focused on India’s defence, were caught by surprise and in ten weeks the Japanese took Malaya. The campaign culminated in the Siege of Singapore. The Japanese couldn’t take this important Royal Navy base through an assault because it was too strongly defended, resulting in a siege that lasted until the end of the war.

The Confederates, looking for an easy victory to raise morale, were emboldened and turned on British interests in the Caribbean. Confederate troops landed in British Honduras, Jamaica and British Guyana in September 1917 and the government in Richmond declared its intention to integrate them as Territories of the Confederate States of America. It was at this point that they also seized the US-controlled Panama Canal despite warnings from Washington to leave it alone. President Hughes ordered the US Navy to go out in force and decisively deal with the CS Navy, but a Confederate spy in Annapolis told the CS Admiralty of the size and course of the US fleet.

Under the command of Admiral Gleaves, who had returned to active service, the CS battle line managed to cross the T of the US battle line commanded by Admiral Bradley Fiske. This meant the Confederate battleships could bring all their guns to bear while their opponents could only fire their forward facing guns. In the resulting Battle of Cape Hatteras the US Navy lost two battleships and the CS Navy one, a tactical success for the latter but strategically inconclusive as the former’s numerical superiority remained. Well aware of that, Gleaves withdrew his ships under the cover of autumn fog banks to the safety of port.

The UK’s wartime coalition between the governing Liberal Party of Prime Minister H.H. Asquith, the Conservatives and Labour was under pressure as a growing minority questioned the wisdom of continuing the war. In Great Britain uneasiness over enemy successes grew, more so because it seemed to make Britain’s opponents bolder. Gibraltar and Malta had been lost while Singapore was under siege (all of them fulcrums of the British Empire) and Germany’s preparations in northern France seemed to indicate an invasion of Southern England was still in the works. Little help was forthcoming from the United States as it remained embroiled in its war of attrition against the Confederacy.

If Great Britain continued the war, Germany might try to launch an invasion. By late 1917, the Royal Navy had 33 dreadnoughts as opposed to the 21 of the High Seas Fleet. For years the Royal Navy had upheld the two-power standard, which dictated that the British should have a navy bigger than the second and third largest navies combined. Now, however, they faced more adversaries. When counting the dreadnoughts of Germany’s allies it became clear the British were at a disadvantage by this stage of the war. Italy had ten, the Confederacy eight, Russia seven, Japan six and Spain one, which amounted to 53 dreadnoughts when added to the 21 German vessels. Long story short, the Royal Navy was spread increasingly thin by the third wartime Christmas.

The struggle between Secretary of State for War David Lloyd George and First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill – the former arguing in favour of a negotiated peace whilst the latter preached fighting on from Britain’s overseas possessions if need be – became public after Asquith announced his resignation. Sir Edward Grey was appointed Prime Minister in his place by King George V in an attempt to forge unity.

Grey failed. The struggle between Lloyd George and Churchill that had been going in Whitehall for months, became increasingly public in late 1917, early 1918. The Liberals became increasingly opposed to stubbornly continuing the war, prompting Churchill to resign from the position of First Lord of the Admiralty and switch back to the Tories. A Lib-Lab coalition and a breakaway minority of Tories favouring peace appeared to be pushing the majority anti-peace Conservative Party into the opposition. The wartime coalition had come to an end and Lloyd George became the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in February 1918. The new British government signalled its willingness to engage in peace negotiations.

The Quintuple Entente had been reduced to just one member, ironically the last one to join this wartime coalition. President Hughes was facing the daunting prospect of waging war against not only the Confederacy but Germany, Russia, Italy, Japan and Spain as well. His resolve was not broken by this, not yet, and instead ordered Pershing to plan a new offensive to capture Richmond. He believed the loss of its capital would cause the Confederacy to cave, which again was a serious underestimation of Southern resolve.

Pershing began planning his spring offensive. Frustrated at the negligible progress of trench warfare, had been developing something to overcome the difficulties of this type of combat: infiltration tactics. This method involved fast-moving stormtrooper units that would bypass enemy strongpoints, possibly isolating them for follow-up attack by troops with heavier weapons, and advance into enemy rear areas. These soldiers of these stormtrooper detachments would take the initiative to identify enemy weak points and choose their own routes, targets, moments and methods of attack. They had been training for months.

The US 1918 spring offensive known as Operation Liberty commenced on March 7th 1918 and it was by far the most successful US offensive in the entire war. He had allocated one hundred divisions and they attacked from starting positions on the frontline in Virginia just south of Fredericksburg and east of Charlottesville. They successfully broke through Confederate defences and carried out a double pincer manoeuvre, covering more than 75 km and surrounding the enemy capital of Richmond. Two months after the beginning of the offensive, Pershing’s soldiers were parading through Richmond.

Confederate President John M. Parker – former Democratic Louisiana Governor, winner of the 1915 elections and successor of James E. Ferguson in – had evacuated the government to Montgomery, Alabama. Just a year into his Presidency, the capital was lost. Confederate morale, however, was not broken and the predicted collapse of the South’s war effort did not occur. Confederate troops managed to launch a counteroffensive, albeit an unsuccessful one, in Kentucky and made inroads into North Missouri because Pershing had weakened other parts of the front to amass enough manpower. The reason that Confederate morale didn’t break was that they could count on its allies to come to their aid now, something which soldiers were constantly reminded of by posters and pamphlets with the slogan “Stand your ground! Von Steuben is coming!”.

At this point some in the Hughes Administration were getting uneasy and so was a growing and increasingly minority of Congressmen and Senators. Under their pressure, President Hughes and Secretary of State Samuel W. McCall feigned interest in a Mexican mediation attempt. United States and Confederate delegations met in Chapultepec Castle, the residence of Emperor Maximilian II of Mexico (he had succeeded his father in 1907). These talks ended in mere weeks as the positions of the two negotiating parties were irreconcilable. President Hughes demanded the cession of South Missouri and Kentucky while his Southern counterpart President Parker insisted on a status quo ante bellum peace, which meant no territorial changes. Deliberately sabotaging these talks by not giving his diplomats the required fiat to agree to anything was a move Hughes would come to regret.

At the beginning of summer 1918, European troops had begun disembarking at Charleston, South Carolina. The lion’s share of those were German soldiers and by July the German Expeditionary Force commanded by General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck numbered 90.000 men. These included a battalion of Askaris from German East Africa, who were exempt from the Confederate “Black Codes” as they remained under German command (this led to tensions when Confederate African American soldiers noticed these Askaris were treated much better by their German officers than they were). Russia had deployed an infantry division, Italy and Spain had both sent a brigade and Belgium sent one infantry battalion (the symbolic Belgian contribution resulted from family ties, as the pro-Confederate Empress Dowager of Mexico Charlotte was the aunt of King Albert I).

This resulted in an expeditionary force numbering 110.000 men, which was first deployed to the front in November 1918. As it became clear the United States Navy could not challenge the combined naval might of the Confederate States Navy and the Imperial German Navy without engaging in a suicide mission, troop transports began increasing in frequency and size. These transports followed a route from Hamburg through Calais (France), Vigo (Spain), the Canary Islands and the Danish Virgin Islands (purchased by Germany) to Charleston. By April 1919, there were half a million German soldiers on the frontlines in North America. Meanwhile, Russia made a contribution with naval raids and aerial bombings in Alaska while Imperial Japanese Navy cruisers began commerce raiding off the US West Coast.

A joint counteroffensive was launched under the joint command of Robert E. Lee III and Von Lettow-Vorbeck. This effort resulted in the reconquest of Virginia by Confederate and German forces between May and August, culminating in Richmond being retaken and President Parker’s subsequent triumphant return. This was followed by the Second Battle of Fredericksburg. There were fears that the Confederate States Army would take Washington with German back-up and they were also making incursions into West Virginia. Fears of invasion were heightened by naval raids along the US eastern seaboard, including an incursion into Chesapeake Bay by U-boats.

The United States would agree to peace soon, but not before the White House got a new occupant. With his support across the country and in Congress fast eroding, President Charles E. Hughes was facing almost certain impeachment for his handling of the war by autumn 1919. He tendered his resignation and was succeeded by his Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks. The new President pardoned his predecessor and requested an armistice in October 1919. The Great War, which had involved eleven major powers and cost the lives of 20 million people, was finally over.
 
Part III: Victory
This is absolute Bullshit, and I mean it. The Confederacy should have collapsed and any peace would recognize that. In no universe should the war end like this, even if the East is a stalemate the west should have seen massive union advances.
Italy had ten, the Confederacy eight, Russia seven, Japan six and Spain one, which amounted to 53 dreadnoughts when added to the 21 German vessels.
Italy's Fleet is bottled up in the Med and even if it isn't how are they gonna get to Germany to make a naval deathstack?, The Confeds have the Union Fleet, the only thing Japan bringing it's fleet to the Atlantic Ocean would result in is death. The Russian fleet is a fucking joke. So that only leaves 33 - 39 Hardly Insurmountable odds and in reality it would be more like two battles of 33 - 11 and 33 - 28 because of the strategic position
 
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Holy crap I wasn't expecting that outcome, I was thinking that the Union would be able to fight on til status quo ante bellum at the worst.
 
Holy crap I wasn't expecting that outcome, I was thinking that the Union would be able to fight on til status quo ante bellum at the worst.

I was too expecting complete stalemate and status quo ante bellum peace. Even if Britain is out of game, it should be still able to supply USA through Canada.
 
I was too expecting complete stalemate and status quo ante bellum peace. Even if Britain is out of game, it should be still able to supply USA through Canada.
You know what, same. That was a victory I was not expecting to see here. But you know what, unlike some, I'm at least willing to see where this rabbit hole goes, even if disbelief has gone past the point of suspension.
 
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