WI: P.G.T. Beauregard Commands the Bulgarian Army During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Mr_Fanboy, Oct 12, 2017 at 5:21 PM.

  1. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

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    If Wikipedia is to be believed, Confederate general Beauregard was offered important military positions for several different countries in the years following the American Civil War, including leadership of the Bulgarian army. However, he declined all of these offers, happy with the relatively conciliatory policies of President Andrew Johnson and his successors toward former Confederate officers.

    However, what if, for whatever reason (say, perhaps a hardline Radical Republican presidency), Beauregard had taken up an offer from the Bulgarians, then revolting against the Ottoman Empire, to lead their armies during the greater Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878? Would the Bulgarians have done better in the war? Worse? If the former, would they have had the leverage to secure the borders promised to them by the Treaty of San Stefano? And whatever the final outcome was, how would it affect the future of Southeastern Europe?
     
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  2. Anaxagoras Vox clamantis in deserto

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    One of the more interesting PODs I have seen in awhile.

    Beauregard was a person with a dynamic personality. Really a novelist's dream (he is an important part of the plot of House of the Proud, but appears in person only briefly). I have a strange feeling that he would have fit right in with the exotic cultural environment of the Balkans. As a Creole, he was sort of an outsider even to the Southerners, yet that seemed only to add to his charisma.

    As a military man, he had some obvious talents but some glaring flaws. His talents were that he was quick on his feet and not prone to panic, as he demonstrated brilliantly at Petersburg in 1864 (his performance there may well have extended the war for many months). He also was a skilled engineer who knew how to employ artillery, as his efforts around Charleston in 1863 show. All of this would have come in handy had he been placed in command of the Bulgarian army, especially since so much of the fighting in the conflict was positional in nature.

    However, Beauregard had a tendency for making grand plans that ignored logistical realities and which any sensible person quickly dismissed as impossible. In the good-old-boys club that was the Confederate Army, and in a Southern society that delighted in the antics of eccentrics, this was just fine as long as it didn't really mess things up. In the serious world of Balkan power politics, however, this kind of silliness would likely be looked down upon very sternly, especially by the Russians.

    It would, needless to say, have been very interesting.
     
  3. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    It'd be especially hilarious should he have a "Wheeler in Cuba" moment with his troops, in the heat of Battle.
     
  4. Anaxagoras Vox clamantis in deserto

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    Beauregard: "We've got the damn Yankees on the run!"

    (The Bulgarians look at one another in great confusion.)
     
  5. Japhy Second Best Poster on the Site

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    I'm not sure I could think of a better way to ensure a crushing Turkish victory. His failure to ever properly handle any issue of logistics, his desperate need for press coverage and political intrigue and his Napoleonic wannabe need to develop grandiose plans that generally centered on concentration of forces at the cost of abandoning everything else in the name of unstoppable victories would be a plague on any country with the ill fortune to have him as a Commander.
     
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  6. Greg Grant Well-Known Member

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    This would be a very fun timeline, one minor correction though, he was not offered a post by Bulgarians at the breakout of the war, but by Rumanians a decade before the war got under way. They were willing to make him a prince and offered good money. The sticking points if I recall were:
    Beauregard wanted a certain sum of money ahead of time, to be deposited in a bank before he headed over,
    guarantee that should he be killed, his family would be paid an annuity for 15 years,
    his own staff of former Confederate officers, and
    Southern officers in various places in the chain of command.

    That being said, it is not out of the realm of reason for him to be convinced by someone (oh, say, powerful attorney and former Confederate Secretary of everything Judah P. Benjamin in England, acting as an agent of various murky back channel powers) to help the Bulgarians right on the eve of the war, or take up the Romanians on their offer to create a Bulgarian army in conjunction with the Bulgarian division the Russians were organizing (Op'lchentsi), or even have the two merged, or something entertaining like that.

    I'd enjoy reading such a timeline.
     
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  7. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

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    We might actually see a bonafide Confederate exile movement spring from this - which would have its own interesting impacts.

    Holy shit, I just got an idea for a short story centered on debates in TTL's modern Romania or Sofia concerning the removal of "Confederate" statues, as a relic of a bygone, aristocratic age.
     
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  8. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

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    Hey, if enough former Confederate officers follow Beauregard, and the Bulgarians are so successful that they eventually take Constantinople... well, how does "Confederate Byzantine Empire" sound as a TL pitch?
     
  9. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

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    I'm picturing an American tourist getting a strange sense of vertigo when he sees a Bulgarian Monument Avenue in a Bulgarian Constantinople - and a PGT Beauregard equestrian statue at the head of it.
     
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  10. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

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    How do you think Beauregard would perform as commander of the Bulgarian (and/or perhaps Romanian) armies once the greater Russo-Turkish War began in earnest, though? Any other significant Confederate figures that'd be liable to follow him?
     
  11. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

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    I imagine the relationship between an America with a more successful/thorough Reconstruction, with Radical Republican governments having been installed in most of the Southern states and Jim Crow never having taken hold, and a Greater Bulgaria with a weird sense of Confederate nostalgia (perhaps even a Balkan equivalent of the Confederados) will be... odd.
     
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  12. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

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    What would the Bulgarian and Romanian translation of Confederates/Confederados be?

    Seriously, dibs on the short story.
     
  13. Greg Grant Well-Known Member

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    Oh there were plenty of bitter Confederate military men willing to go anywhere but the Reconstructed South. One of Beau's former staff officers went off to Cuba to fight Spain before that was the in-thing, and there were Confed officers in Egyptian armies and etc.

    Also, Beau had an entourage of people around him during the War. Jefferson Davis once even joked that when the Confederate government got a grand personality and did not know what to do with him, they would send the man to Beau's camp/staff. We're talking about a man that had former governors and senators hanging around. He would have no problem bringing some Confederates with him whenever he went, because despite everything, he was popular.

    As for his performance...

    Beau displayed an absolute lack of ability to learn and improve from experience. He thought military strategy began and ended with Jomini and Napoleon, and should be learned from a study of their works and theories, and that's it. He was absolutely obsessed with the Napoleonic ideal of concentrating a force of troops and bringing them to battle upon a foe, and ignored anything in reality that opposed the theories he learned when he was a little boy in the French school in New York and a bit later at West Point. That included discarding his own experiences during the Mexican War. He was also militarily unstable. He went from sad clown to happy clown within a day. His conduct in the lead up to the Battle of Bull Run is a master class in how not to issue orders and deal with subordinates or superiors.

    But as a divisional commander and a battlefield tactician, Beau was quite good. Asking him to come up with a grand strategy is the quickest way to defeat, but once the bullets started flying, and cannonballs were plowing up the land, Beau was at his best. He was inspirational and understood the ebb and flow of battle. The trouble was getting him to the battlefield in one piece and ignoring all the terrible ideas he would send to his peers and superiors, and having someone edit his correspondence to his subordinates.
     
  14. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

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    Unless anyone has a more creative suggestion, probably just the direct translation of "confederate", given hat "confederado" is the Portuguese equivalent of that word.

    On another note, it occurs to me that the Russo-Turkish War exhibited a large number of war crimes on both sides - whole villages being massacred, places of worship being destroyed, that sort of thing. While unfortunately some level of ethnic violence is probably unavoidable, given the level of ethnic tensions in the Balkans during that time, but is there any reason to believe that Beauregard would make a special effort to conduct a more clean campaign, at least in comparison to the Russian and Turkish commanders?
     
  15. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

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    A lot of it will have to do with who follows Beauregard - I very much doubt if say, Nathan Bedford Forest takes a command in Eastern Europe, he would have much issue burning villages of Turks alive.

    Hell, given how men like Stonewall Jackson liked to fancy themselves Knights and Crusaders of the South, having the chance to ACTUALLY be knights and crusaders against the heathen may make them far more bloodthirsty.
     
  16. Kerney Making America Sane Again

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    To be fair, NBF is known for one massacre in the war (where he might not have had control of his troops) and the KKK, which he got disgusted with pretty quickly and by the end of his life was making speeches in favor of black civil rights.

    He had the ability to evolve and while he encouraged a fierceness he didn't make massacres a habit. He'd be disgusted by practices in the Balkans.

    There are some who would go for that sort of thing. Gordon comes to mind.
     
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  17. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

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    Right, but individual commanders aside, what would be the prevailing attitude of the ex-Confederates in the Bulgarian military, as led by Beauregard? Significantly more bloodthirsty, less bloodthirsty, or about the same as the leadership in the other factions of the war?
     
  18. Kerney Making America Sane Again

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    Less bloodthirsty. Both the Union and the Confederates had a concept of rules of warfare and areas they usually didn't go. The forces in the Balkans didn't seem to have any inhibitions in that regard.
     
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  19. Dementor Well-Known Member

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    The Wikipedia article doesn't mention anything like that. Where did you read this?
     
  20. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I was corrected previously in the thread. I had misremembered - it was Romania, and not Bulgaria, which had extended this offer.

    That being said, I don't think Beauregard also being offered the command of the Bulgarian forces is a complete stretch - @Greg Grant offered a plausible scenario to that effect upthread.