Until every drop of blood is paid - A more radical American Civil War

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Red_Galiray, Sep 6, 2018.

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  1. The Congressman Populist Liberty Conservative

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    A narrow front in Maryland will probably work to the advantage of the CSA, especially with Washington in their hands - allows them to protect their supply lines through the hub of the District of Columbia. Perhaps they could also use the east Chesapeake as a secure area to build a decent naval strength (better protect the bay), causing Lincoln to authorize a canal being build through Delaware and eastern MD.

    I would think that this could cause the Shenandoah valley campaign to be an actual main front rather than a side front
     
  2. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    The CSA can't "build naval strength". The CSA cannot build steam engines, marine or land. At the beginning of the war their ability to cast cannon was minimal, it was built up during the war but the sorts of guns needed to counter Union ironclads (riverine or ocean) almost all were imported or prewar (or captured). Approximately 8% of locomotives on southern railroads in 1860 had been built in southern shops, the rest were imported for the north (English locomotives were unsuitable and had not been imported for twenty years. The CSA produced relatively few naval vessels of any sort, and those were inferior to Union vessels of similar class.

    Basically the CSA used shore batteries almost always to keep Union riverine/gunboats at bay, likewise fortifications to keep blockading ships at a distance. Other than the CSS Virginia literally built on a Union salvaged wreck, which had a one day success (literally) the CSN successes from a naval standpoint were commerce raiders primarily built and armed by overseas constructors. They had some successes in small ways with some innovative/desperation ideas (like the CSS Hunley the submersible which sank one Union ship and killed three crews including its inventor) and the "David" torpedo boats.
     
  3. piratedude Pirate Lord of the Great Lakes

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    Depending on how things played out they might have captured the Merrimack wholesale, in which case the Virginia wouldn't have been built
     
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  4. Inquisitor Tolkien Well-Known Member

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    The Confederate position in MD is pretty damned f-ed, going into 1862. They either need a decisive battle against one of the many Union staging grounds, or need to concede central MD and Baltimore, then retreat to DC or over the Potomac. Frederick and Annapolis especially, Hagerstown if possible, need to be seized for any hope of a long term Confederate presence in MD. If not, Beauregard's position in central MD south of the Patuxent will be incredibly easy to cut off, and suffer a similar fate as Mack at Ulm.

    An independent CSA would be a direct existential challenge to the Union. Nonwithstanding any platitudes about democracy, it first challenges the indivisibility of the Union and effectively promotes future secession, especially with several founding states leading the CSA, and thus poses a unique political challenge and threat far unlike other American countries. Next, an independent CSA would be expansionist as it's only real common political objective (outside preserving slavery domestically), seeking to expand slavery and their peculiar institution from the American South to South America. This necessarily is another challenge to the Union, as it both tears up the pretense of the Monroe doctrine and challenges growing US aspirations to "protect" the Americas from outside interference. If the CSA tries to take Cuba, for instance, and it will likely be compelled to due to both domestic political considerations and geostrategic ones (trying to make up systemic hard power deficiencies with the Union post-independence through conquest), what is the USA going to do?

    Further, the CSA geographically poses a threat far beyond anyone other country; Canada does control the St Lawrence waterway and could theoretically cut it off, but Canada itself is sparsely populated away from that, and can't challenge Western expansion or seriously threaten the North through military means without major involvement from Britain, who is a pond away. In addition, decades of diplomacy smoothed away pretty much all the major border disputes, and overall the balance of threat is low on that front. The CSA would however have broken away, taking major states and major Unionist strongholds and populations away, and controlling the absolutely vital Mississippi basin, that they can attempt to cut off in any major dispute. Further, it has the population and demographics to pose a challenge to the US, and having broken away remains a clear and present security threat, especially as a CSA would likely attempt to militarize in order to safeguard itself (and thus trigger a security dilemma cascade on the North American continent).


    Also, while Confederate cotton was missed, Union grain was rather more essential to Britain, and contributes to why a war is undesirable for them. Cotton can be substituted and sourced from India and Egypt; a grain shortage is less comfortable for a country.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  5. Darth_Kiryan The Númenorean Sith

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    Has to wonder if Arlington will still become the US cemetery in this TL, and wonder if it will be a bit more vindictive....
     
  6. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    Given the reason Arlington was chosen, Gen Meigs' son dying in a cavalry raid against Richmond and therefore making Arlington a cemetery was a way of getting back at Lee, I can't see any change there. OTL the dead were buried almost up to the house itself, so that even had Lee retained pssession of the house after the war he could never have lived there.
     
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  7. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Way to goddamn haunted. He'd have to build the Winchester Mansion just to avoid all the angry ghosts!
     
  8. piratedude Pirate Lord of the Great Lakes

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    As i understood it Britain imported more grain from Russia than from the US.

    Well if Beauregard wants to maintain the initiative i think he'd attack Butler in Annapolis, as he represents a big threat to his rear.

    Though given what Red has said it seems the union counter attack will come first.

    In which case the AotS will move on Baltimore and probably face the most resistance of the three "army groups". The Army of Western Maryland in Frederick ought to move on the confederates in Urbana and move to retake Rockville at the very least. Butler in Annapolis should at least pressure the confederate troops in Rolling Hills to tie down those troops, or if he's lucky drive them off and move on Annapolis junction.
     
  9. Incognitia Classic plotter Monthly Donor

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    Doesn't really matter where Britain imports more grain from, for two reasons:
    1) Britain and the US are unlikely to be opposed to one another TTL.
    2) If they were, cutting off the US' grain revenues would hurt the US quite a lot, while Britain would buy grain from elsewhere.
     
  10. Inquisitor Tolkien Well-Known Member

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    Possible; sources for that?

    Theoretically, they could, but where do they source and replace the grain? 1860, 1861, and 1862 saw historic failures in British grain crops (with one year a general European failure), and gigantic bumper American crops, which facilitated major expansion in US exports to Europe. In 1861, Britain imported 32m bushels more Union wheat to make up its 40m shortfall that year, on top of what it already imported (the Union exported ~20m annually before 1861, most of it to Britain). British wheat production in 1861 was 88m bushels (down from the ~130m that they normally produce), which made Union grain quite direly needed.

    Russia possibly could make up the shortfall (with a major price spike in grain), but it's a major disruption, notwithstanding the recent Crimean War, and Russia had not embraced mechanization to the extent the US had (which was what drove the gigantic increases in US grain production) at this point which facilitated its surpluses, and has worse ports for shipment in comparison to the US (and much higher transport costs). This also does not include corn, of which was also greatly exported.


    Source: Social and Industrial Conditions in the North During the Civil War (free ebook via Google Books)
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
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  11. Fan of Alternate History Active Member

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    AlternateHistoryHub did a video were the Soviet Union curbstomped Germany.
    It was overall good but with a few errors.
     
  12. Red_Galiray En un pueblito al sur de Estados Unidos.

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    Thanks for mentioning him! Sometimes I can forget pretty important characters or moments, such as when I forgot Kansas was a state despite it being an important part of the TL. So please everybody, mention Black political and social leaders, even if you've already mentioned them, so that I can include them in the update!

    Thanks. Yes, I agree. Those are all very interesting PODs. I won't explore them in this TL, because to get a radical reconstruction you need a "hard" war first. But it's still something that interests me. Several historians have mentioned the profound irony of how Lee actually set the Confederacy in the path for destruction. Had he not won the Seven Days and driven McClellan off Richmond, the Confederacy would have lost, but slavery and the Old South and its society would have survived, perhaps for many years, and Southerners wouldn't have suffered so much. But because he won, the war was allowed to take a turn towards a radical and total war.

    I think a larger section of the White male southern population will fight ITTL, but I don't think many foreigners will join them. Slavery is central to the idea of the Confederacy, but it is als despised in Europe. Most volunteers would probably flock to the Union banner, including German 48ers. They are especially angry after the massacre of so many of them in St. Louis, and also some events in Texas... Whether or not I have Marx come into the US depends on my decision regarding continuing the TL. Marx taking part in the Civil War would probably have great butterflies for the US and the world, which can only be explored if I continue beyond Reconstruction. Right now I'm leaning towards continuing.

    Here's to you the Hunley!
    And all of you brave crew!
    You sailed out beyond the bar
    To see what you could do
    You sailed into Charleston bay
    Beneath the Bonnie Blue
    For to break the Union blockade
    and to sink the Yankee crew!

    The history of the Hunley is a curious one indeed. I find it funny how the American patriots of the Revolutionary War also tried to build a submarine. Must be something Americans like. Also, just as a fun fact, the first South American submarine was the Hipopotamo, built in Guayaquil, Ecuador, by the Ecuadorian José Rodríguez Labandera.

    Things are not looking good for the rebels.

    Since Lee is probably still going to be one of the premier Southern heroes, I can see several fates for Arlington, all of them vindictive. If can be seized and transformed into a military cemetery; it can one of the estates seized from rebel leaders that is later given to Free Blacks or Poor Whites during Reconstruction; it can be simply razed and destroyed by Union troops.

    Since Breckinridge and Johnston both want to remain in the defensive rather than attack, the main Confederate objective for now is simply building up strength and fortifications. They know the Yankees are coming, so they want to be ready for now. After that, the main threats are Annapolis and Ft. McHenry. For the Union, the best result is wreacking Havoc around Frederick and Baltimore, forcing Beauregard to either recall the troops from Annapolis or fight against insurmountable Union numbers. Lincoln especifically wants McDowell to pin Beauregard against the Potomac, and destroy him.

    I think I read somewhere that Russia was indeed the main source of grain for Britain until the Crimean War and other events allowed the US to surpass them. I'm not really sure though.
     
  13. Inquisitor Tolkien Well-Known Member

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    For the Rebels, inaction is basically suicidal. Fighting on essentially 3 fronts is incredibly dangerous, especially if the Union is able to coordinate. The force from Annapolis can, without pressure, easily cut off their only rail connection to DC, and isolate Beauregard's forces. Same with Frederick.

    Any defenisive posture for the Confederates in MD requires at least Annapolis and likely Frederick/Harpers Ferry to be realistically held without threat of annihilation, to have at least one rail line to retreat through. Breckenridge and Johnston are likely dooming the Army of MD or whatever the name will be to encirclement. Beauregard and others with the army likely see this plainly however, and I would be surprised if they don't try to consolidate somehow, orders be damned. Their orders violate basic Napoleonic principles of defeat in detail and concentration of force against numerically superior forces.


    I believe Russia was the main exporter of grain to Britain before the Crimean War, but during the 1860-1865 period, the Union exported exceptionally vast amounts of grain to make up British shortfalls, and I believe it was the main source for Britain during that time period. Again, combination of multiple factors like significantly reduced transport costs (East Coast ports and rail development), mechanization of agriculture, political factors, and a particularly good set of harvests, combined with a particularly bad set in Britain and later Europe. The abundance of Union grain, at the very least, kept prices somewhat stable. If not, prices would start to skyrocket, with an obvious effect on the British poor. I'm actually no longer sure why I went on this tangent, I think to dispel the notion that Southern cotton would motivate European intervention.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 1:14 PM
  14. Red_Galiray En un pueblito al sur de Estados Unidos.

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    I meant the short term objective. Attacking is risky, and right now the Confederates know the Army of the Susquehanna is on the move. They want to repeal this attack, and then be able to concentrate their forces against Annapolis. Conventional military wisdom at the time dictated that you should never split your forces in the face of a foe with superior numbers, and right now the Union has 45,000 men directly facing Beauregard's 30,000. Splitting the Army of Maryland and sending troops to take Annapolis would allow the AotS to smash them. There are some 5,000 troops in Frederick, and 5,000 in Annapolis, both facing similar rebel numbers. Beauregard has sent further reinforcements to Annapolis, believing that the force at Annapolis is too small for the moment, and that the force at Frederick will fumble their river crossing. The plan for the moment is fortifying the Patapsco, push the AotS back, turn around and expulse the Federals from Annapolis, and then push north towards Harpers Ferry.

    Furthermore, we know how cautious Johnston is, and I believe Breckinridge would be inclined to follow his advice for the time being. Johnston probably believes that Beauregard won't be able to resist the Union attack unless he's at full force, and that it is better to remain in the defensive around Annapolis. This because a tentative Confederate assault was already repulsed, with heavy Confederate casualties. That and the Fall of Washington have contributed to Johnston's mindset - both offensives against Union entrenchments resulted in heavy casualties for the rebels. Due to this, he wants to delay action until he can be assured that the Army of the Susquehanna can't break through, because if it does break through that results in Beauregard pinned against the Potomac. This position, of course, has infuriated both Davis and Beauregard, who do believe that their troops will be able to whip the Yankees and favor an assault on Annapolis.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 1:25 PM
  15. Inquisitor Tolkien Well-Known Member

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    Ah, I apologize. I thought you meant as a long term strategy. If the immediate goal is repulsing the Union push on Baltimore, that makes sense.
     
  16. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    Aug 4, 2018
    Happy to hear that you leaningn toward keep this going!
    Yes, I agree the vast majority will want to help the Confederacy but what about a notable slaving holding country to the south brazil I bet many will find there cause noble espically the slave holders in brazil while most would not go a small amount of them could go
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 4:20 PM
  17. piratedude Pirate Lord of the Great Lakes

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    Tbh i don't see karl himself leaving England unless Britain starts cracking down on radicals and exile/deporting them (which was pretty common for europe at the time, its why Karl was forced to leave Prussia and then France). I can maybe see Engles going, as he was an aide de camp to augustus willich and so has some experience, but i find it unlikely that they would do anything other than organizing the volunteers
     
  18. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    While you might see a few foreigners sympathetic to the south volunteer for adventure, the numbers would be small. Fighting in a great crusade for slavery simply is not much of an attraction for those outside the CSA. OTOH fighting for "freedom" and against slavery will attract more volunteers, although still a relatively small number. Furthermore the Union can offer sweeteners, no matter what you have the "west" with land which can be given to volunteers at the end of the war, even if the CSA wins. OTOH the CSA other than Texas the CSA isn't going to have much empty land on offer, and the willingness of the elite to create more independent landowners unless they are establishing new slave plantations is questionable.

    Brazil may have a pro-slave class, but frankly Brazil is not in a state where they can be very helpful to the CSA.
     
  19. Knightmare Well-Known Member

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    Plus, well, the CSA wasn't exactly the most immigrant friendly place, apparently.

    Add in the Union blockade which'll cut down on their ability to get foreign volunteers.....



    In meridie est destrui!
     
  20. BootOnFace Buoyant Armiger

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    Perhaps Willich convinces Engels to come to America to fight for freedom and the oppressed, and Marx, who depended on Engels for financial support, comes with him.
     
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