Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond

The one problem with using Hooker here is that he was in pretty poor health by war's end in OTL - hard campaigning and hard drinking had caught up with him. He had a stroke and was mustered out in 1866.

A pity, since he could make for a colorful contribution to the political disaster area that is the United States at this point.
 
"railroads and industry." Yes. He was a war manager. He could organize! He understood how an industrial enterprise works! But not a leader.

And we can see that in the one political job he held: Governor of New Jersey. He alienated the legislature in jig time, because his political instincts were crap, and playing well with others was not a strong suit for him. But he did some worthwhile work organizing a Bureau of Statistics of Labor. That is the kind of thing he was good at. If we analogize from World War II, you wouldn't want him as president, and you wouldn't want him as theater commander, let alone a field commander. But give him William Knudsen's or Brehon Somervell's jobs, and he might just flourish.

Even in the war he probably should have been a staff officer rather than leading an enormous army. He would have been an excellent staff officer, definitely a good organizer. But he was far too ambitious (and convinced of his own correctness) for his own good. Tinkering with the political and economic system was what he was good at, but little beyond that.

Once upon a time I read his entire report as a military observer in the Crimean War. It was striking what he identified as useful, and what he completely missed.

That the Delafield Commission never saw any combat was a big problem. They saw the aftermath of the fall of Sevastopol, which led to McClellan seeing big guns as the future of war (and honestly looking at his actions before Yorktown we can see the influence of what he saw at Crimea) but missing out on how devastating the new Minie rifle was to the musket armed Russian forces in the field meant some really deadly evolutions in warfare.
 
I was really hoping for a Butler presidency, because of his obvious and blatant scheming, it was almost endearing.

I think I've kicked the US around enough in the 1860s!

Macdonald dealing with the fallout and a growing militant faction is going to be a huge domestic conundrum for him. It's going to be a thorny issue and something I don't think he can easily overcome.

Not at all! Compared to party politicking, military politicking is a bit beyond him. Honestly going to be one of the things that really runs him into the rocks a couple times here.

Glad to see all the new chapters! All very well done and building toward a wonderful headache for everyone involved.

And the headaches just won't stop coming either!
 
He was the first person to ever successfully claim temporary insanity as a defense for murder. It's a wild case. There's a whole Wikipedia article on it if I'm not mistaken.

By future secretary of war (and in WiF Supreme Court Justice) Edwin Stanton no less!

The one problem with using Hooker here is that he was in pretty poor health by war's end in OTL - hard campaigning and hard drinking had caught up with him. He had a stroke and was mustered out in 1866.

A pity, since he could make for a colorful contribution to the political disaster area that is the United States at this point.

Sadly that long history of alcoholism caught up with him quick. I think that extrapolating his 1868 stroke to a later date he could definitely run, but the strain of a hard drinking political life would probably kill him early judging by how hard the alcoholism hit him.

True enough

Ironically - if my memory serves - we can blame that on then Secretary of War Jefferson Davis because he took forever to get the ball rolling on sending them so they missed the major operations phase. It was also a shame they didn't have a good naval attache who could observe things at sea!
 
Chapter 138: Wars Averted
Chapter 138: Wars Averted

“Despite months of saber rattling, it soon became clear to the men in the Quai d’Orsay and the Tuileries Palace that Prussia, and by extension her North German vassals, did not want war. This was despite the continual belligerent talk from Chancellor Von Roon and his government. Roon still demanded that no accommodation be reached with Paris, but he would also inform the King-President that the Prussian Army might not be ready for a war with France in 1867. They had not incurred significant losses in 1866, but the real need to watch their flank in case of Austrian engagement over the Luxembourg question was a prominent concern. This was especially true as both Bavaria and Saxony saw the attempt to keep Luxembourg out of French hands as little more than an attempt to annex yet another small state into Prussia’s orbit. Both Munich and Dresden put pressure on Vienna to back Paris in case of a conflict, and reluctantly Vienna made noises in France’s favor.

Napoleon III, while grateful, also realized from his military commanders that a war over Luxembourg might be premature. True there were some advantages to a war in the present moment, Britain distracted by the Irish question, Russia ruled by a youthful and inexperience tsar with no loyalty to Prussia, a coalition of German states and Austria which might support him, and a present financial and economic stability which meant his government could afford the expenditures of a war. There were however, disadvantages which stayed his hand. A full 10% of the army was abroad either in Rome, Asia or Mexico, and another 80,000 men were stationed in Algeria, which would require a mobilization of the troops at home, an act which his military planners had not properly drilled for in 1866. Returning some of his best troops from adventures abroad would be necessary before undertaking a war in Europe.

Prussia too saw the potential pitfalls, and without allies willing to engage alongside her, ultimately backed down. This caused a great consternation in the Prussian military class, one misstep which would not soon be forgotten. In the immediate term, King-President Friedrich asked for mediation of the dispute, which London would graciously provide. That was to Napoleon’s advantage as well. He had wished to mediate in Paris, a position of strength, but was convinced that a “neutral conference” would do much to alleviate concerns he wished to dictate terms to Europe.

The London Conference of 1867 was held on July 16th, and at the conference the parties involved, Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and the Netherlands, agreed that the sale should go forward. While the Dutch government was piqued with the king for dragging the nation to war for a ‘petty bribe’ they did accept a higher offer from France, 15 million francs to match the contribution to the king, in order to accept the Duchy of Luxembourg as a French possession. The Prussian garrison agreed to evacuate the city so a French garrison could take its place. All the powers present signed an agreement ratifying the sale and accepting the transfer of territory to France.

Napoleon gained a strategic territory on his frontier, which would allow pressure on the new North German Confederation, the Dutch had gained some financial restitution, while Austria had restored further prestige post-1866 alongside France. Prussia had gained nothing beyond peace. That created further tensions between the nations of Europe and Napoleon deduced that there may be strife in Europe sooner rather than later. To that end he sought to tie up loose ends with his empire, and would begin winding down his adventure in Mexico…” - Foreign Policy of the Second French Empire, Pierre Martin, 1991

“The ultimate fate of many of the Americans captured on British soil in 1867 was anticlimactic. Rising tensions between the two nations had ratched up over the summer, prompting both sides to place over 20,000 troops on each side of the border, staring one another down. Despite fiery rhetoric in Washington about protecting American lives, they soon fell into political infighting and with Butler’s forced resignation, one of the major movers of the crisis was out of office. The failure of the Fenian invasion in June had demoralized most of the movement and left them rudderless as their leaders were in prison. The failure of the rising in Ireland itself meant that there was, in the eyes of the members, now little to fight for. The tensest moments in trans-Atlantic relations since 1862 ended not with a bang, but with a whimper.

It did not save the lives of many Americans. Dozens had been killed in the fighting in Ireland and hundreds in Canada. Some would remain in Canadian prisons for years, some would end their days there. Others would be allowed to slip away, but by and large in 7 years the majority of captured Fenians would be freed from their imprisonment, as the paranoia around the movement had died out by the mid 1870s despite a further scare. The feeling of safety in Canada was too strong.

In Britain itself though, this was a different story. The captured rebels were sentenced to hard labor, but the sheer number, and with over 1,000 Americans in British jails still, something had to be done.

Trials were held, and Britain seriously debated how to avert another war while obtaining a reasonable degree of justice for the death of British subjects at American hands. Sentences were commuted from death, but even holding on to so many men promised to be problematic. So the government turned to a last resort with an old law. Transportation. Britain would rid itself of the homegrown menace through a means which had been in nearly continuous use for nearly two centuries by this point. The transportation of these “undesirables” to Australia was seen as a means of alleviating the pressure having them in Britain herself would cause both domestically and internationally. Though some would complain that the sentence was “as good as death” it was seen as a kinder fate that they deserved to many in the British establishment[1].

This would also mark the end of transportation as a means of punishment. Shortly after the order to expel over 1,479 men to Australia, Parliament would end the practice. Making this the last great transportation of convicts to that continent. Add to the fact that most were in fact foreign nationals, and it was one of the stranger cases. Almost all were military prisoners, save roughly 100 ‘political prisoners’ who were Fenian leaders and organizers. There was some consternation in the British colonies there themselves, but Britain swiftly overrode their concerns with direct orders that the men be scattered through the colonies to minimize the overall impact, and set their terms of hard labor to building up the burgeoning unity between the settler colonies.

On October 31st, after the last sentences had been passed down, the Last Fleet left Britain from various ports to bring the prisoners to their new home. Throughout the 79 day voyage the men would ultimately be resigned to their fates, while others plotted escape.

Not all were transported however. There was one man the government refused to send. John Kavanagh had undoubtedly been caught in the act of piracy in British waters using a neutral flag as camouflage for the true intent of his ship. While there had been a fierce desire to hang the entire crew, cooler heads realized a mass hanging would undoubtedly cause an uproar. To that end, the majority of the 29 man crew were sentenced to transportation and twenty-five years hard labor in Australia. John Kavanagh however, was tried and found guilty of piracy. He was sentenced to death and on November 7th 1867, led to the Gallows at the Old Bailey in London. A large crowd gathered to see the man known as “The Last Irish Pirate” hung for his misdeeds. Regarded as a foreigner he received little sympathy even in Irish circles, but he would become a martyr in the Fenian movement. His name would be long forgotten in Irish circles, only coming again half a century later…

The final outrages of the Crisis of 1867 were less military, and far more terroristic. Shortly after the transportation of the convicts on November 7th, Lord Palmerston and John Russell were exiting Parliament, when a man who had been lurking in the halls of the building appeared and brandished a revolver. Firing twice, his first shot missed, while the second shot struck Lord Russell in the head, killing him instantly. He was wrestled to the ground by onlookers, and soon thereafter arrested. His identity was soon confirmed as one Ricard O’Sullivan Burke, a former American soldier who had escaped detection and hidden in London after the failure of the rising. He confessed to the crime saying he had “come to kill that great scoundrel who had sundered liberty in two countries, Palmerston.” Instead he had killed a member of the British cabinet.

Though he had failed to kill the Prime Minister, he had still killed a cabinet member. His murder trial was simple enough, he was unrepentant and had been caught in the act, and he was soon executed to little fanfare. No government would raise their voice to free an assassin.

It was the subsequent Clerkenwell explosion which sealed the fate of the Fenians in 1867. In an effort to free their fellows held at Clerkenwell jail, a small band of Fenians smuggled a barrel of gunpowder near a hole they had dug in the wall and lit it in the hopes of causing a general prison break. A combination of poor timing and too much gunpowder caused the bomb to detonate when no prisoners were in the yard, and the resulting explosion killed 14 and injured 120, mostly civilians in the surrounding tenements[2]. As a result, London was filled with anti-Irish backlash, and Parliament would step up surveillance of Fenians, or suspected Fenian sympathizers both at home and abroad.

Ireland remained under the British yoke, and those would be liberators had manifestly failed in their goals to strike at Britain in a meaningful way, paving the way for decades of surveillance…” - The Emergency of 1867, Howard Senior, 1986

--

1] This was the year of the last transportation historically, and ironically most were Fenians. Though not over 1,000 of them!

2] Also a real event, with just a few more deaths. It soured any sympathy the masses had for the Irish people in London and basically cemented a sense of anti-Irish paranoia for decades.
 
Terrorism is rarely going to benefit one's cause. Committing acts of terror in an incompetent manner is worse though, for the former mostly elicits hatred, while the latter elicits derision.
 
1867 seems to have a lot of in-universe AH potential with the wars that didn't break out and do on. Also does little for Mccellan's future standing when the British are willing to believe that this isn't some great plan, but sheer ineptitude on his part.
 
If they were trying to impede the cause of Irish nationalism, they'd succeeded.

They certainly didn't help it too much. The British were far more canny in the 1860s dealing with the Fenians than I realized when I started my research years ago. They new killings made martyrs, and so have come up with a mildly inspired plan here to prevent that from happening. Other than the men to die in combat, the only major deaths are American citizens who committed different crimes!
 
1867 seems to have a lot of in-universe AH potential with the wars that didn't break out and do on.

The War of 1867 would be the crappy sequel to the War of 1862 from the Canadian perspective! But an 1867 war over Luxembourg smacks too much of copying Cinco de Mayo and I couldn't do that! I have other plans to plunge Europe into the abyss...

Also does little for Mccellan's future standing when the British are willing to believe that this isn't some great plan, but sheer ineptitude on his part.

Yeah, there will be little confidence in the competency of Washington on Britain's part in the immediate future.
 
Sadly that long history of alcoholism caught up with him quick. I think that extrapolating his 1868 stroke to a later date he could definitely run, but the strain of a hard drinking political life would probably kill him early judging by how hard the alcoholism hit him.
Oh God you mean there's a chance that damn Sickles becomes president then no wonder he's worse than McClellan. Oh God I if that's the case I hope he gets shot.
 
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Oh God you mean there's a chance that damn Sickles becomes president then no wonder he's worse than McClellan. Oh God I if that's the case I hope he gets shot.
Well, this is covering the decline and collapse of the US so things would only get worse.

Think Sickles incompetence will cause the West Coast to secede and join Canada or the CSA? They will most likely be independent, though.
 
Well @EnglishCanuck did say don't put too much stock in the alternate history books back a few chapters and while yes its very dark on the horizon but as the saying goes its always darkest before the dawn meaning right now we're still going down in the dark before dawn shines upon us and the Union can come climbing back from where it fell so dont be too pessimistic as all of us are rooting for the underdog that is the usa to succeed.

In spite of all the self harm its doing itself by the democrats and McClellan and likely Sickles which I hope there party and names are dragged into the mud and fully destroyed because of the harm they caused/gonna cause to lead to unions darkest hour. So atleast take solace in that.

And the fact that the Republicans and radicals are there to fight for a the dawn is a sign that hope isn't still lost and we don't go down to pessimism yet.

Also this is gonna be making politics change very much as the moderates would be prosecuted in the future for choosing the compromisers like McClellan and Sickles as and to an extent Buchanan who lead to this mess. And oh wow a trio of terrible democrats who's legacy is gonna be so bad people are gonna change there names because of the taint it brings.
 
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