Until Every Drop of Blood Is Paid: A More Radical American Civil War

Jon Parshall is in the right of it in saying that Midway did not decide the war, but that it did change the course of the war. In the crude sense, Japan lost the war the moment the first bomb fell on Battleship Row.

A big loss at Midway would likely have made some butterflies in Allied grand strategy in 1942, but not enough to alter the outcome. I have long been tempted by the thought that a loss at Midway not only would not lengthen the Pacific War, but might even shorten it. Because you'd be butterflying away the Solomons Campaign, and it could be that the smashing up of the IJN that took place in the Solomons over 10-12 months would just happen more suddenly in the Central Pacific once Nimitz started his drive.

Parshall's classic essay over at CombinedFleet is essential reading here: http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm
The way that I've explained it to people is that the Nazis could, especially if the Soviets fell, reach a point where they would have been very difficult to dislodge no matter the economic advantages that the allies had over them. The Japanese, OTOH, could never really reach that point. Even if Australia and India fall (either of which are much less likely than the USSR falling to the Nazis), the Japanese while they would have had more oil would have had *extreme* difficulty turning those conquests into additional ship and air capability. And without that, the US *can* sail to the Japanese coast and wreck the country. And while I have no idea what a significant stranged IJA in Mainland Asia would do, it wouldn't survive long.
 
In terms of his post war interviews he said that public opinion/anger made negotiation for less then maximalist terms for the first two years of the war impossible. That 1863 was the year he felt the South was ready for a return to the Union on ‘honorable terms’, but the North wasn’t willing to talk.
I think that's just part of fabricating the Lost Cause myth - lies made up to make it seem as if the South was in the right and the North forced the war on them and was unwilling to make peace on "honourable" terms.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
I think that's just part of fabricating the Lost Cause myth - lies made up to make it seem as if the South was in the right and the North forced the war on them and was unwilling to make peace on "honourable" terms.
Besides, what kind of "honorable" terms could there have been for states that rebelled at having lost the election and then become responsible for the death of over 100,000 people all to maintain slavery? The South made the conflict personal and existential the second they attempted to rebel and secede. The only terms the Union would take was unconditional surrender and the end of slavery, anything less would be laughed out.
 
I have read Lee’s letters and he was contacted by Europeans at various times. He was better aquatinted with the French and British military thinkers. Though he knew some of the German ones. I don’t recall Clausewitz’s name coming up.

He was rooting for the French in the Franco-Prussian war though it isn’t much of a surprise as Virginia and France were close enough that it was a huge deal for Virginians when Lafayette came to Monticello in 1824 when Lee was a teen.

In terms of his post war interviews he said that public opinion/anger made negotiation for less then maximalist terms for the first two years of the war impossible. That 1863 was the year he felt the South was ready for a return to the Union on ‘honorable terms’, but the North wasn’t willing to talk.
Was Clausewitz even a big name at this time, outside Prussia? I assume the Prussians/Germans got their big military reputation reaally just with the War of 1870/71..
 
The german general staff had the same obssesion with Cannae in 1914. And they also forgot what happend later. For some generals, the whole idea of "we take some risk, we win this big battle and the war will be over by Cristmas" is just to sexy.

Well if you're behind enough on points sometimes a Hail Mary is the only option with any hope of victory. Most Hail Mary attempts fail but that doesn't mean it's necessarily irrational to do them.
 
Was Clausewitz even a big name at this time, outside Prussia? I assume the Prussians/Germans got their big military reputation reaally just with the War of 1870/71..

They were seen as a rising power in Europe, but not a core big league player yet. A von Clausewitz I am not sure it’s a relative as the letter only exists offline at Washington and Lee did write from Germany to Lee that he would help translate his history of the war if he tells it into German.
 
My sense is that this was true of most American officers, north and south. Then you had Phil Sheridan over riding around with Wilhelm and Bismarck, lambasting French ineptitude in every letter home, exhorting 'em to shoot franc-tireurs on sight and burn the towns to the ground. But then, I guess he wouldn't be Phil Sheridan if he wasn't urging that.



Or at least Lincoln and Davis weren't willing to talk on those terms. Other folks might have been, but they weren't the ones making that decision.
I serious doubt, that many Union officers would have symphaties for Napoleon III.´s France. Symphaaties may haave swichted after France bbecame a republic, but before that, I see the North in the german camp.
 
Was Clausewitz even a big name at this time, outside Prussia? I assume the Prussians/Germans got their big military reputation reaally just with the War of 1870/71..
Er...Frederick II? They hadn't been extremely impressive during the Napoleonic Wars, true, but the Prussians had a solid military history even before 1870.
 
Er...Frederick II? They hadn't been extremely impressive during the Napoleonic Wars, true, but the Prussians had a solid military history even before 1870.
Single military genius establish no longlasting reputation. 1866 and even 1870, most foreigners expected Prussia to get trashed.
 
Single military genius establish no longlasting reputation. 1866 and even 1870, most foreigners expected Prussia to get trashed.
Yes, but that has more to do with France having a sterling silver reputation until World War II than Prussia having a bad one. You can say that a country has a strong military reputation while simultaneously saying it would lose to a country with an even stronger reputation. A modern-day example would be the United States versus, say, France (ironically). Obviously we would expect the United States to beat France soundly, leaving aside nuclear weapons, but it would be folly to say that France has a poor military reputation because of that; while it does have a poor reputation in popular circles, in professional circles the modern French military would have to be rated as one of the world's strongest and reasonably competently led. It's just that the United States is even stronger.

In the case of Prussia, I think a fair observer would have said that they had a fairly strong military reputation in the 19th century, but that they were clearly the minnow in a pond full of trout, so they weren't likely to actually win. That is, they could punch above their weight, but they were just too lightweight compared to the heavy hitters like France and Russia to get anywhere.
 
I serious doubt, that many Union officers would have symphaties for Napoleon III.´s France. Symphaaties may haave swichted after France bbecame a republic, but before that, I see the North in the german camp.

There was a degree of nuance to be had in that few officers North or South didn't support driving the French out of Mexico in 1865, but they were still generally fairly favorable to France. There was support among leading northern newspapers like the New York Herald for Lee leading one of the armies that they were planning on taking on another expedition into Mexico until the French position there faltered. Lee's response was that his health was failing him and believed it would be better to let a younger generation step up.
 
Speaking of Japan, weapons that were used in the civil war were later sold to partisans in the Boshin War. Will this different outcome make thing any different?
I don't think there's anything here that could logically result in changes in Japan.

I would also recommend reading Gary Gallagher's The Confederate War. Gallagher makes a good case that Lee was fighting the kind of war the Southern public demanded, that moreover Lee's string of big splashy (but bloody) victories in 1862-63 were critical in sustaining Confederate morale for as long as it lasted in the face of what were frankly longshot odds and horrific losses - and that, more to the point, Lee was aware of, and acting partly in response, to this dynamic.
It's worth nothing that within the TL I always use Cannae in the strategic sense of "big military victory that substantially destroys part of or an entire enemy army", not the tactical sense. Within this strategic meaning I think it's particularly well suited since the Union had the men and resources to replace everyone they lost at the Peninsula. One of the greatest consequences within the TL, I believe, it's that it resulted in Lee being obsessed with achieving an even bigger victory and convinced him that it was entirely possible. Two consecutive victories at Bull Run and Frederick just increased this hubris and led him to make the fatal mistake of facing the Federals at Union Mills.

I reed the book years ago, but saw the movie just recently again. I think its actually the point of the story, that Scarlett is a horrible and selfish person and that that is the reason, she will never find true happiness.
I think the movie version is more sympathetic. For example, in the book she has children with her two first husbands, children whom she neglects and abuses because she simply doesn't love them.

In terms of his post war interviews he said that public opinion/anger made negotiation for less then maximalist terms for the first two years of the war impossible. That 1863 was the year he felt the South was ready for a return to the Union on ‘honorable terms’, but the North wasn’t willing to talk.
The crux of the issue is that if the Confederacy believes it can win it will demand complete independence; if the Union believes it can win, it will demand their submission. The Confederacy would only accept reunion if defeat seemed inevitable, but by that point why would the Union settle for that? That's why towards the end of the war many Confederates, such as Campbell and Stephens, were advocating for a conditional surrender. But the terms they hoped for were frankly delusional - the Confederate State legislatures being recognized and allowed to make rules concerning African-Americans, Confederate soldiers keeping their arms to guard against "servile insurrection", and restoration of property, which may or may not include slaves. That's why the election of 1864 was so crucial, because while Lincoln and even Johnson would never accept such terms, a McClellan might. Heck, Sherman basically offered those exact terms to Johnston, causing a harsh rebuke by both Johnson and Stanton.

I think that's just part of fabricating the Lost Cause myth - lies made up to make it seem as if the South was in the right and the North forced the war on them and was unwilling to make peace on "honourable" terms.
Besides, what kind of "honorable" terms could there have been for states that rebelled at having lost the election and then become responsible for the death of over 100,000 people all to maintain slavery? The South made the conflict personal and existential the second they attempted to rebel and secede. The only terms the Union would take was unconditional surrender and the end of slavery, anything less would be laughed out.
The honorable terms demanded by Confederates often included proposals that would substantially or even completely preserve the power and properties of the planter elite, including over the people they enslaved. Lincoln and most Republicans would not accept that, but many Northerners, including some of the most conservative Republicans like the Blairs or the most erratic ones like Greeley, thought that simple reunion would do. So if the Confederacy had been able to hold on for a few more months and ensure Lincoln's defeat, they very well could have ended up with a President that only demanded reunion and allowed them to keep slavery.
 
The crux of the issue is that if the Confederacy believes it can win it will demand complete independence; if the Union believes it can win, it will demand their submission. The Confederacy would only accept reunion if defeat seemed inevitable, but by that point why would the Union settle for that? That's why towards the end of the war many Confederates, such as Campbell and Stephens, were advocating for a conditional surrender. But the terms they hoped for were frankly delusional - the Confederate State legislatures being recognized and allowed to make rules concerning African-Americans, Confederate soldiers keeping their arms to guard against "servile insurrection", and restoration of property, which may or may not include slaves. That's why the election of 1864 was so crucial, because while Lincoln and even Johnson would never accept such terms, a McClellan might. Heck, Sherman basically offered those exact terms to Johnston, causing a harsh rebuke by both Johnson and Stanton.

What Davis thought were reasonable terms, what Stephens thought were reasonable terms, and what the army thought were reasonable were all on very different wavelengths.

The army was very reluctant to step into politics until it was clear the bottom was falling out of their ability to sustain themselves.

 
What Davis thought were reasonable terms, what Stephens thought were reasonable terms, and what the army thought were reasonable were all on very different wavelengths.

The army was very reluctant to step into politics until it was clear the bottom was falling out of their ability to sustain themselves.

Of course, that's my point. For most of the conflict Davis was in charge and the military, whether they were loyal like Lee or embittered like Johnston, followed him. Davis, to a degree that's honestly delusional, believed that the Confederacy could not settle for anything less than unconditional independence, and that it had the capacity to achieve it. But others believed in a conditional peace that was delusional in its own way. By the very end, the Administration and the Army seemed to come around and realize conditional peace was their best possibility. That's why both Johnston and the Cabinet reacted with enthusiasm when Sherman offered them extremely mild terms. The issue came when Johnson rebuked Sherman and instead offered the same terms as Appomattox. Davis, returning to delusion, wanted to keep fighting; Johnston basically rebelled and accepted the inevitability of their defeat.
 
It's worth nothing that within the TL I always use Cannae in the strategic sense of "big military victory that substantially destroys part of or an entire enemy army", not the tactical sense.

Good point. I am afraid got caught up in the ensuing discussion, where people were taking you more literally than you intended.
 
With the help of the great @Arnold d.c I've been working in the next update, which will focus on the 1864 military campaigns in both Georgia and Virginia. But there are still some details to be ironed out and battles to be tweaked, but I hope to write it within the next week! In the meantime, enjoy another vignette from the war.
 
Side-story: "An Indiana Jayhawker"
An Indiana Jayhawker

“When Johnny comes marching home, hurrah, hurrah”, Ted sang to himself as he walked the last few miles to his house. “We’ll him a hearty welcome then, hurrah, hurrah”. He would need a hearty welcome after months of fighting in Western Kentucky. “The men will cheer, and the boys will shout!”, he sang loudly before his thoughts returned to that dreadful place and its inhumane sights and bloody scenes and monstrous people and, and – “the ladies they will all turn out!”, he finished, coming to a stop before his house.

A little head peaked out from the second-floor window, the eyes of the boy widening in surprised joy when they landed on Ted. “Mom! Mom! Ted’s here! Ted’s here!”, he cried, jumping a few times before the window before rushing away from it. In a blink, the boy was downstairs, launching himself at his chest. “Ted, oh it’s you Ted, it’s you!”, he babbled, clutching his blue jacket. “Yeah, it’s me Laurie”, Ted replied cheerfully, his arms coming around the boy and lifting him. Mother and Father then came to the door. Mother collapsed into his arms, planting kisses on his cheeks as she sobbed. “Finally home! My boy’s home, thank the Lord!”

After both Mother and Laurie had clutched him for a good while, Father came. His hug was brief, his words succinct, but the red rim around his eyes was unmistakable. “Welcome home, Theodore”, he said, his hand resting on his arm. “I didn’t think the Army would let you come home already. I thought they’d make you wait till your three years were over.” Ted gave a half shrug before replying. “General Schofield, before leaving for Tennessee, offered us furloughs. I think he hopes we’ll return before the next campaign, and since not much action is expected in the winter it was safe to let us go”. Mother became panicked at this. “Oh Ted, please don’t say you will return!”, she pleaded. Return? To Kentucky with its rebels, and its guerrillas, and its raids, and its massacres and its – “Ted, dear?” He shook his head and plastered a strained smile on his face, “No Mother, I won’t”.

The commotion at the Philips house of course alerted the neighbors. Louisa, the young Rogers girl, came down her house stairs and called out in her sweet voice, “Molly, your soldier boy’s home!” before rushing towards him. A mature woman came after her, “Louisa, don’t tease your sister!”, she admonished before coming to Ted. “Oh, Teddy, I’m so glad to see you at home!”, she said as she clutched him in her arms. “My little Molly was sick with worry about you. She waits anxiously for your letters. Why don’t you write more often? If she doesn’t hear from you in a week, she gets frantic with worry! She thinks a rebel’s got you and-” that you’ve had your throat slit like John, or been hung in a tree like Greg, or have been decapitated like Edward or “-you’re wounded somewhere, you don’t know how much that scares her!”

Just then Molly came down the stairs. She’s evidently been fussing with her hair, not expecting him to come so soon. But perfect hair or not, seeing her was like a balm for his soul. She was beautiful, and her smile was the first real ray of light he had seen in all those colds (bloody) winter months. “Ted!”, she cried, and sank into his arms. His mother and hers both looked disapprovingly at this open display of affection but said nothing. Father just smiled, and when it seemed like Mrs. Rogers was about to say something he leaned in. “Please, ma’am, the boy’s been out to the war for months. Surely a little lack of decorum can be pardoned this time?”, he said kindly. And she seemed to agree, for she stepped back and allowed Molly to hug him as if it were the last time (and it very well might be).

The Rogers and the Philips spent the afternoon together. They shared coffee and laughs and it was almost like before the war and its bloodletting. Except that it was not, for the shadow of war loomed over them. Or did it loom only over Ted? Was it only him that grew grim when a comrade that had fallen was mentioned? Was it only him that felt a cold shiver when the rebel guerrillas were mentioned? Was it only him that couldn’t breathe and wanted to run away when Mrs. Rogers mentioned that some rebels had been seen in Southern Indiana? He remembered what had happened at that contraband camp, and suddenly his mind was torn by the images of Father and Laurie put to the knife and Molly and Louisa at the mercy of marauders like that Negro woman and her daughter when Ted just hadn’t been fast enough and- “More tea, dear?”, Mother asked. “Yes, please”, he replied, the pleasant smile returning to his face.

He excused himself (“Oh, it’s just the march that’s got me exhausted, Mother!”) and went up to his room. Molly followed him, and of course it was unseemly because they were engaged but not married yet. But Mrs. Rogers allowed it again, perhaps thinking of all those girls who were left pinning for a sweetheart that would never return. The curve of her lip made it clear that there would be hell to pay if they stayed too long together, so they better hurry. He kissed her like it’s the last time (and it very well might be) and then renewed the vows he made when he first enlisted in the Army, even if those words felt empty and meaningless after the things he had seen. “Promise me you will write more often”, she begged, and of course he promised it, because her letters were his only source of comfort. But he feared it was a vain promise, since sometimes it was just too hard. He'd pick up his pencil and wouldn't be able to write about Southern vistas or complain about hardtack when his fingers were trembling, and his breathing was uneven after yet another raid.

He couldn’t sleep for hours. The bed felt uncomfortable compared with his tent, and as he stared at the ceiling, he could only think of how easy it would be for a marauder to light up their house. He should know, after all he and his comrades have burned many houses throughout Western Kentucky in their attempts to burn out the hornets. He didn’t enlist because he wanted to burn houses and steal food and kill people, but because war was glorious, and he thought he would look dashing in that blue uniform at his wedding with Molly. Maybe some rebs enlisted for the same reason? Maybe the man he had shot after he tried to keep Ted from setting his house in fire was once a boy that just wanted to impress his sweetheart?

Guilt coiled in his gut and was quickly stamped out. That man was a traitor, and if a rebel woman is crying for him she deserves it. How many rebel women feed and sheltered the guerrillas that would then go and kill Union men and boys and defenseless darkies? Ted remembered the first time he had been tasked with cleaning up a rebel town. He had been sick at the idea at expelling civilians at gun point, but his commander said they had been helping guerrillas. Still, they were just innocent women and children! Then, his regiment passed through a forest where at least twenty freedmen were hung like macabre Christmas decorations. The next time he partook in the arson, Ted did not feel sorry. He didn’t care if people back home were crying for them. People were crying for John, but that didn’t stop the guerrilla from cutting his neck open in the dark of the night and-

“Ah!”, Ted screamed, getting to his feet, and trying to put some distance between him and the attacker. He patted his pockets, feeling for the knife that he had learned to have on him all the time. “A rebel! A rebel!”, he screamed, hoping the battalion would rally to deal with him. Maybe he was the guerrilla that slit John’s throat and had almost cut Ted’s. That must be it, he came back to his tent to finish the job, the stab wound Ted had inflicted not being enough to kill him. But this time he wouldn’t escape, this time Ted would, he would… “Ted, for God’s sake!”, a female voice cried, and it couldn’t be the Negro woman that washed their clothes because she was hung up in that forest but – “Oh God Ted! Please!”, the voice cried again, and suddenly he saw that it was Mother.

They didn’t tell anyone about that incident. “Just a nightmare”, he and Mother would say, but Laurie’s scared face and Father’s concerned eyes said they didn’t believe it. “War Madness”, Yankee doctors had started to call it that, but that couldn’t have afflicted a real brave man like Ted, could it? The empty smile remained on his face as they spent another day pretending everything was fine. Molly came over and they talked of the wedding, but it all felt so useless and unimportant. He felt useless. What was he doing drinking tea and laughing at stories he didn’t even hear when comrades down South were being killed? As soon as the furlough was over, he’d reenlist, he decided. “A rebel, a rebel!” someone suddenly cried, and Ted almost jumped up and grabbed his rifle and rushed to the banner, but he was not at camp but at his house. The cry had been real, however, for everyone reacted. They rushed outside and saw a man surrounded by a mob.

“I’m no rebel!”, the terrified man screamed at the mob drew nearer. “Don’t lie! We found these papers, you’re a Copperhead! Want the guerrillas to come here and kill us? Do you want that?”, demanded Mr. Howard, the town’s butcher and the leader of the local Union League. “No! No!”, he cried, “don’t listen to Howard, he’s lying! I’m no rebel!” Howard only got angrier. “But you’re a Chesnut, aren’t you?”, he demanded, and continued when the man nodded with a gulp. “That’s equal to a traitor for me! Didn’t you and your friends slaughter the people of New York!” Howard said, and the mob let out a yell in response. “Didn’t you and your friends raid those towns near the border last month?”, he added, and the mob let out another yell.

A raid! That’s the raid Mrs. Rogers had been talking about, the one where some guerrillas crossed from Kentucky into Indiana and killed dozens of men and boys and robbed at least three towns. And that man, that dirty Copperhead, helped them! Ted rushed to the street, where the people parted upon seeing his blue uniform. Mr. Howard smirked at seeing him. “Look, the hero of the town! Aren’t you afraid reb? Here’s a soldier to deal with you!” Ted didn’t pay attention as the mob cheered him and Howard shook his hand, he only focused on the man. He looked pathetic, so terrified and shaking. But so did all rebels when the Union Army caught with them, even after laughing and cheering when they looted, burned, and killed just a few days before. And Ted knew how to deal with such men.

“We ought to hang him!”, he said, the begging of the man silenced by the bloodthirsty screams that ensued. “I’ve seen what these men can do if they are allowed to roam free! Traitors must be exterminated!” At that moment, the mob went forward and seized the man, stabbing him and then lifting him to the lamppost, where he was given a strong hemp necktie like all traitors deserved. And the mob cheered, but Ted didn’t hear them, only watching the man as he bleed and suffocated. He remembered scenes from Kentucky, of burning towns, desecrated corpses and desperate people being cut down, and decided that it couldn’t happen there, not to Mother or Laurie or Molly. And in that moment, he decided he’d return to the Army to exterminate all traitors in order to protect them, not seeing how Mother and Laurie and Molly were crying horrified at the actions of the lynch mob he was leading.
 
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Of course, that's my point. For most of the conflict Davis was in charge and the military, whether they were loyal like Lee or embittered like Johnston, followed him. Davis, to a degree that's honestly delusional, believed that the Confederacy could not settle for anything less than unconditional independence, and that it had the capacity to achieve it. But others believed in a conditional peace that was delusional in its own way. By the very end, the Administration and the Army seemed to come around and realize conditional peace was their best possibility. That's why both Johnston and the Cabinet reacted with enthusiasm when Sherman offered them extremely mild terms. The issue came when Johnson rebuked Sherman and instead offered the same terms as Appomattox. Davis, returning to delusion, wanted to keep fighting; Johnston basically rebelled and accepted the inevitability of their defeat.
Davis was extreme delussional IOTL. I wonder how Breckinridge handle it? He may have less illussions, but he has to expect the total dismantiling of the old southern order. So he see a fight till the end as only option.
 
In the case of Prussia, I think a fair observer would have said that they had a fairly strong military reputation in the 19th century, but that they were clearly the minnow in a pond full of trout, so they weren't likely to actually win. That is, they could punch above their weight, but they were just too lightweight compared to the heavy hitters like France and Russia to get anywhere.

I think the problem was that the fair outside observer in 1870 did not understand just how superior the Prussian army had become over against the French over the previous two decades, even after Prussia's swift victory over Austria in 1866. France's Napoleonic aura and her (rather underwhelming) victories over even worse led armies in the Crimea, Lombardy, and colonial scrums obscured four things:
  1. How logistically formidable Moltke's formation of the General Staff's Railroad department had made the Prussian Army, allowing it to deploy more troops much more quickly to its frontiers than France possibly could, in ways that would have made even Herman Haupt green with envy;
  2. How effective Prussian military education's emphasis on initiative and leadership doctrine had made its officer corps at all levels;
  3. Just how good Prussian artillery technology had become, to the point of totally negating French advantages in small arms;
  4. How absolutely calcified the French senior officer corps had become since Waterloo. As Dallas Irvine famously put it, the French promotion system"was almost completely effective in excluding the army's brain power from the staff and high command." [1]
Prussia's swift (four weeks, effectively) victory shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone who had really been paying close attention to these developments. But no one was. Even after the war was over, Phil Sheridan did not really seem to grasp (1) and (2) at all despite serving as the US Army observer with the Prussian Army and unfettered access to all operations! "Nowadays war is pretty much the same everywhere, and this one offered no marked exception to my previous experiences.” [2]

The French poilu, on the other hand, left no one in doubt of his courage or zeal, and the same was true of a lot of the franc-tireurs and militia, who sustained the war against hopeless odds and enormous privations for another five months. But they were badly led and badly organized, and the war finally exposed it.
 
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