Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by EnglishCanuck, Mar 29, 2016.

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  1. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Even though the updates are slow, the TL is still very enjoyable and it gives me an excuse to reread the TL to remember what happened Best active TL imo
     
  2. RodentRevolution Chewer of Wires

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    Hum a rapid fire TL or a well researched one that keeps throwing up gems? I think we loyal followers know which we prefer.
     
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  3. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    @EnglishCanuck

    I should say that I didn't mean to imply your writing is slow. I think this is a brilliant TL that's well written and well researched.

    10/10
    Would gladly wait months between updates again. :p
     
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  4. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Completely agree. Brilliant TL. Quality over quantity any day.
     
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  5. Jon Crawford Well-Known Member

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    Love the updates.
     
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  6. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Thank you all! Such kind words really do keep a writer going :)

    I do feel bad about how long it can take between updates! But the good news at the moment is there is definitely a chapter coming out on Saturday, then we get into the meaty issues of February-March, before a big April interlude and one of the opening campaigns of 1863!
     
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  7. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Can I ask which theatre the first campaign will be?
     
  8. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    The Eastern theater, so in Virginia and its environs. Following that, the northern frontier (Canada and the Hudson Valley) and then we will scoot back out west and follow Grant and Johnston over the fate of Nashville.
     
  9. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Yay! The Virginia theatre is my personally favorite so I'm looking forward to it!
     
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  10. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    It does seem to be the popular front, so I'm hoping I don't disappoint! Coincidentally its also my favorite front so this makes it easier to write about.
     
  11. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    I really like having McClellan still being in command. While he justifyably has a terrible OTL reputation, I've always found him to be very fascinating. Plus Lee hasn't had OTL's success yet. I imagine he'll probably thrash McClellan sooner or later though. Like I said, very much looking forward to it.
     
  12. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Writing McClellan going into 1863 is going to be interesting, he's on the defensive (which he was on the Peninsula and in Maryland) which will make his task a lot easier vis a vis fighting Lee. However, he's also legitimately outnumbered this time which will inform his strategy. With the need to shield Washington and the Confederates active on land and sea its going to make his task a little difficult.
     
  13. Threadmarks: Chapter 46: Last Stand of the Mohican

    EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Chapter 46: Last Stand of the Mohican

    “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way.” – John Paul Jones, in a letter to Le Ray de Chaumont, November 1778

    “By the winter of 1862-63 the British blockade had tightened. Notwithstanding Admiral Farragut’s brilliant successes at New York, the fall of Portland, the bombardment and destruction of Portsmouth Naval Yard, and continued British command of the seas meant that the pre-war Union trade networks were completely disrupted alongside the loss of trade with Britain which had in 1860 had represented 40% of US trade. Though Britain lost her trade with the Union, this only comprised 15% of her own trade in the same period.

    This imposed significant strain on the Union economy. Railroads were taken over for military purposes, disrupting internal trade and communications. Wharves and docks sat empty and unused, putting tens of thousands out of work. Ships were lost at an astonishing rate and insurance premiums skyrocketed, leading to enormous losses among coastal industries. The dislocation of the North – South trade also played out with the dislocation of trade between East and West. Other than what could be shipped on the arduous overland routes, the Pacific states were on their own. Even the states of the old northwest found themselves discomforted by the shift of men and materials to Canada, which took up space otherwise occupied in internal trade…

    …the commerce war had been ongoing since late February of the year previous. Though many of the early raiders had achieved great success before the Royal Navy ordered her ships to go to convoy, most had suffered from the subsequent attention of Her Majesties ships. Whether it was the Pawnee sunk in the North Sea in May, or the Mississippi run aground off Delaware, the early raiders suffered once the Royal Navy committed to hunting them.

    One of these early ships which proved to be an exception in that regard, was the USS Mohican. The Mohican was first commissioned in February 1859, named for the Mohican tribe which had inhabited the Hudson Valley in pre-colonial times. Armed with two 11inch guns and four 32pnd guns, she was not the most well armed vessel in the navy, nor the fastest at only 10 knots at the best of times. With her crew of 160 men she could not be expected to take many prizes either, however, her captain was something else entirely.

    In 1860, Sylvanus William Godon had just been promoted to captain in the United States Navy. He had enlisted in the navy as a ten year old midshipman n 1819, and had made the service his life. Serving on various vessels he was promoted to lieutenant in 1836 and served on the USS Ohio under Commodore Isaac Hull in the Mediterranean in 1839 to 1841. During the Mexican War he was part of the fleet which compelled the surrender of the Mexican fortress at Veracruz, commanding the bomb ship Vesuvius in her bombardment of that city, and after the war was promoted to the rank of commander in 1855.

    Taking command of the Mohican in 1860 he was assigned to the navy’s Africa Squadron which was charged with policing the international slave trade. On August 8th, he captured the American slaver Erie and forced it to port where he unloaded its cargo of 897 slaves, 564 of whom were children. Then, he took the captain and crew into custody[1]. For this action he was highly commended in the Northern presses, and he would continue on his slave trade suppression mission until the outbreak of war, returning to Union waters in September 1861.

    The Mohican next took part in the assault on Port Royal as a part of Commodore Du Pont’s fleet. He was noted for his courageous action, placing Mohican in position to enfilade the rebel batteries. From there Mohican took part in the blockade until she was recalled with all other war worthy steamers in February 1862, narrowly missing the fleet of Admiral Milne.

    [​IMG]
    Sylvanus William Godon

    Returning to New York, she underwent a much needed refit and yard work for three months. On June 7th 1862 she sortied with orders to harass British commerce wherever it could be found. Her first catch was the schooner Seabright destined for Wilmington. Capturing the crew, Godon ordered the schooner burned and set the standard for the upcoming naval campaign. In short order he had burned three more ships, his biggest prize being the iron hulled screw steamer Lord Byron off of Portugal. This report soon reached the Royal Navy in Gibraltar, and in September, the frigate Doris was hunting for her off Cadiz.

    Only pausing to take on coal and provisions, Godon cast off in the middle of the night, steaming past Doris and making a clean break for the open ocean. She brazenly sailed past the blockaders in another midnight run, and entered New York harbor to great acclaim. Taking on ammunition, provisions, and giving her crew a much needed rest, she soon set sail again in November 1862, making for the Caribbean.

    Capturing and burning the bark Spectator she soon sailed off St. Thomas and burned the schooner Needham. In this first Caribbean cruise she would capture a further seven ships, burning them all and causing significant indignation in London.

    In January, she fell in with the American vessel the USS Iroquois which had been doing similar damage to Confederate and British commerce in the Gulf. The two ships cruised in squadron for a month, burning the two Southern schooners and a British steam ship. They made their greatest catch in February however.

    While cruising in concert off the coast of Mexico, the two vessels chanced upon the sloop HMS Desperate on February 25th. Proudly flying their colors, the two ships bore down on the lone British sloop. Combined, the two US vessels had 12 guns outgunning the 8 on Desperate. Though the British ship attempted to outpace her pursuers, she was soon caught and engaged…

    The battle was fierce, and despite Desperate’s best efforts, she could not outmaneuver the two enemy vessels or break contact…

    She was soon forced to strike her colors after losing 45 of her compliment, and taking on dangerous amounts of waters after being holed three times. Her commander, John Ross, surrendered his crew to the care of the American warships. With their prize damaged and sinking, Godon allowed the British vessel to be lost and in turn took the crew to the Mexican port of Matamoros where they were paroled and put to shore.

    In the aftermath of this cruise he would again bring his ship back to port, running the blockade to reach New York where he would learn of the loss of the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Down for three months of refit and repair, he sortied again in June, sneaking past the blockers in the night, made much easier by Farragut’s actions at Sandy Hook.

    This time he would venture further south than before, to the coasts of South America. It was off the coast of Columbia where the Mohican captured her first prize of this cruise, steamer Josephina which due to her status as a steam vessel, Godon made the rare judgement that she should be obtained as a prize and ordered her to New York with a prize crew. Continuing to the coast of Brazil, he captured and burned the bark Winnifred among other vessels. However, he was hunted relentlessly by the vessels of Rear Admiral Warren’s South-East squadron. A proper hunt was complicated as in June, the Empire of Brazil expelled the British minister and consuls following disputes over British shipping rights, and orders were given for Brazilian shore batteries to fire on British ships interfering with vessels in Brazilian coastal waters.

    Upon learning this news from the crew of the Winnifred Godon decided he would use Rio de Janeiro as a base of operations. While in Rio, his crew became minor celebrities and in August were even entertained by Emperor Pedro himself. However, their luck could not last, and after sortieing for the last time in September, the Mohican was at last cornered.

    Having deduced that the Mohican might use Brazilian ports as a base, Warren had ordered the 31 gun frigate Curacoa under the command of Captain Phillimore to patrol the waters near Rio. It was returning from a fruitless cruise late September that Godon’s vessel was spotted. Realizing he could not hope to outrun the larger vessel, Godon, under a flag of truce, asked that the British allow him to evacuate his sick, along with any personal correspondence, to the port in Rio. Phillimore obliged, and even offered his own boats to aid in the evacuation to a neutral bark.

    Upon doing so, the two ships agreed to meet at 2pm on September 30th to do battle. Giving a rousing speech to his men, Godon praised their patriotism and their valor in carrying out the mission assigned to them. “In the proud history of our fleet, we have vexed Her Majesties vessels, whether with Paul Jones at the Firth of Forth or Admiral Perry upon waters of Lake Erie. Let it not be said that we have carried out our duty any less than those heroes or that we were afraid to match broadsides with the enemy.

    The two ships met, and the battle was joined by the exchange of ranging shots from Curocoa which failed to find traction at first. Hoping he could use his smaller ship to maneuver around the larger vessel and to the safety of neutral waters Godon angled to stay just off the bow of the British vessel. In turning, he managed to stay out of range of the British ship until 2:57pm, when at last Curocoa managed to bring her guns to bear. The battle was short, the weight of fire being enormous in its disparity. Though Godon’s men manned their guns with admirable tenacity, they were soon overwhelmed. Sinking, and with her entire port broadside dismounted, Godon, who had been wounded in the exchange, had no choice but to surrender his ship. At 3:33pm, Phillimore accepted the surrender of the Mohican, and saved as many of the crew as she could. Of the 144 men who went into battle, 119 were rescued, many of them wounded.

    Throughout her three cruises the Mohican captured 19 British vessels and managed to sink a British sloop of war. Though only a small part of the commerce war, Mohican was one of the most successful cruisers, with only the USS Kearsarge outdoing her in the total of British merchantmen sunk over the whole of the war.

    Godon would be exchanged in November 1863, and upon his return would be rewarded the Medal of Honor for his valor. At the close of the war he was made Rear-Admiral and honored by being given command of the South American Squadron from 1866-1868, whereupon he returned the United States and was employed as commandant of the Brooklyn Naval Yard. In the capacity he was a firm supporter of Admiral Farragut’s armored warship design, which would prove fortuitous. Though he retired from the navy in 1872, he would live to see the launch of the Guerriere Class of armored frigate, and even launching the vessel which bore his own commands’ namesake, the USS Mohican, in 1877.” – Cruise of the USS Mohican 1862-1863, Louis Palmer, The American Naval Gazette, May 1983 issue.


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    1] The commander of the ship was Nathaniel Gordon, the only man to be executed for the slave trade in US history.
     
  14. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Two questions, was Nathaniel Gordon still executed in this TL? And is the Confederate Navy assisting the British in their blockade of the United States?
     
  15. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    He was indeed hung by the neck until dead.

    The Confederate navy is helping the British only in the most limited ways. Largely at Norfolk and on the Chesapeake. The RN doesn't quite trust the CSN's professionalism in comparison to their own and are still wary of coalition warfare from their experiences in the Crimea. However, over a year of warfare is breaking that down, and the British are looking for a big win. That logically would include cooperating with portions of the Confederate army and Confederate fleet somewhere...
     
  16. nepcotevalley Well-Known Member

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    The thing I find most refreshing about this story is how balanced and fair it is. In no sense is it any kind if a wank. It is equally respectful to Americans ,Canadians and the British. I just wish there were more timelines like this. Best Wishes.
     
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  17. Bison Banned

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    That, in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects of a timeline.
     
  18. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Thank you! Though personally I don't know whether it is fair and balanced :p but I've done the best I can to not make it look like the outcome is preordained one way or the other, as few wars really are.

    The major conceit I began writing this under was to dispel the "matter of marching myth" which seemed to permeate the discussion so often in Anlgo-American war issues. This is where the US just shows up and marches to Quebec quick as you please (nonwithstanding the grand failures of 1775 and 1812-14) and the near total ignorance of Canadian affairs portrayed within. With my own research I arrived at only one immediate conclusion, and that was that it was unlikely for one side to 'run the board' as it were in 1862, and from there I began plotting out how things might have gone. In doing so a few of my own preconceptions changed, and I was either shocked or pleasantly surprised by a few things I learned.

    Each of the major combatants has some strengths, and its the ability to deploy those strengths which will, I think, lead to the ultimate outcome of this conflict.
     
  19. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    I like how you talk about Canadian politics because I know literally nothing about any Canadian politicians so it's nice to learn something really new. I also agree about the common myths. It really annoys me when the US is portrayed as this unstoppable juggernaut that could do anything and beat anyone it wanted when this was far from the case.
     
  20. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Thank you! It's been a bit of a passion of mine for the last four or five years, so showing it off is rather fun :) indulging in some alternate Canadian history at the same time is also exciting.

    Yeah, that myth is also something that annoyed me from time to time. However, I also wanted to make the not too fine point that the British couldn't just walk over the US army either, and the Royal Navy is not the USN Circa 2018 which has no real competition for control of the global sea lanes today. The USN was by this point large, well trained, and could offer significant trouble in littoral waters. However, early on in the war the men of the RN would have had a significant advantage, witness poor McKean's force caught off Key West in Chapter 16. However, the ships guarding the bays and harbors would be able to fight back very effectively in some cases, and I personally think that David Farragut would have been more than capable of 'twisting the lion's tale' on a few occasions.

    Godon and the Mohican here are meant to showcase that the commerce war would be rather nasty as well.

    Any hypothetical Trent war was bound to be bloody and long, with far more deaths than remotely necessary. A real disaster for the English speaking world.
     
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