Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond

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

Loading...
  1. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    The Commonwealth
    Many thanks! I hope to have the next section focusing on the northern front in Canada up by sometime in March! Then we'll cover points West!
     
    RodentRevolution likes this.
  2. naraht Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    From another thread (original post by Inquisitor Tolkien)
    (

    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.
    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)
    )
    Is the lack of grain for the UK being dealt with here?
     
  3. RodentRevolution Chewer of Wires

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2015
    As we are importing stuff from other threads, but while in 1862 British wheat imports soared to around double the normal amount in the years before and after the ACW this does not seem to be because there was a particular wheat shortage in the UK. The British seem to have consumed (or possibly re-exported) an unusually large amount of wheat during the Civil War. It may have been a case of "Eat your bread Jimmy it pays for Union soldiers to go battle slavery" or something else.

    It is further worth noting that EnglishCanuck argues against the notion of Union collapse despite the fact the British threaten to cut off well over 90% of their supply of gunpowder and possibly 100% at least for the first year of conflict. The notion that the British will keel over because around 20-25% of supply of one food source among several (so not a drop of 20% in calories note) is threatened seems rather fanciful. It is also hard to see from the available evidence that the British would notice a significantly higher than usual price of bread.
     
  4. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    The Commonwealth
    As much as is possible. From what I've read, the grain trade in 1862 was high for different reasons. Firstly, the Union seems to have been dumping loads of excess grain on the markets (the 1862 number of tons imported was the highest it would be, it dropped markedly from 1863 onwards) secondly, there seems to have been excess grains on the market which could be wrung from the continental powers. The German states and Russia in particular.

    While the price of grain would definitely go up, that would not be the end of the world for the British economy. It would probably have risen as high as it had during the Russian War from 1854-56, (10 shiliings in 1854 vs. a low of 5.3 in 1862, and maybe not even as high as ten) which notably did little to stop that war. I don't think it would be a deciding factor in British calculations. I have yet to read any first hand evidence that it played a crucial role in British food stocks in 1862, and the evidence of it in Parliament shows it was only worth a passing mention, and one which seemed skeptical of its importance.

    All in all, from what I've read it would be a small economic factor across the Atlantic. In the US however, it might be problematic in the short term as something has to be done to keep millions of farmers from going destitute. Doubtless it would cause some anxiety in Britain, but the greater anxiety might be felt in the MidWest where the farmers are now cut off from foreign markets.
     
  5. StealthyMarat In the heavy thoughts. Gone Fishin'

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2017
    Location:
    Poltava, Ukraine
    How long until the next update?
     
  6. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    The Commonwealth
    Well one of the preconceptions I had when starting this TL was that the Union did have the resources to fight on with a British declaration of war, and how I've managed to game it shows they could hang on, even if by their finger nails, but there's lots of long term problems on both sides I can only guess at. Gunpowder could be imported from other European nations (at a higher cost than OTL) and even small supplies of rifles and other necessary materials will probably slip through the blockade in reasonable numbers to supplement what could not be provided by domestic industry.

    What I've come to realize is that such a system would not be cheap or easy, but something which the US could conceivably accomplish.
     
    RodentRevolution likes this.
  7. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    The Commonwealth
    Working on it :coldsweat: it's been lagging thanks to RL issues, but if I can buckle down this weekend I can probably get it out by next week.
     
  8. StealthyMarat In the heavy thoughts. Gone Fishin'

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2017
    Location:
    Poltava, Ukraine
    XD Good luck man
     
    EnglishCanuck likes this.
  9. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    The Commonwealth
    Much appreciated!
     
    StealthyMarat likes this.
  10. RodentRevolution Chewer of Wires

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2015
    Oh I would agree on the powder situation. I too lean towards the US making do. It is just they will be functioning under more constrained supply than OTL, even allowing for the black market supply of finished gunpowder from South America and Europe, plus in due course nitre beds beginning to yield the necessary raw material.

    Similarly for gun iron, I strongly suspect the Americans would go back to earlier pattern heavier barrels which could make good use of the inferior metal available to them. The downside for the troops is a weapon that is somewhat more cumbersome and wearing to wield than the Springfield. The downside for the Armory is that they would have to adapt their machinery causing a temporary bottleneck in production.

    A quick note on privateering by the Americans, it is entirely possible they may be able to procure and arm steamers for the role. They would struggle to enjoy 1812 levels of success though because while the US does still enjoy one of the largest and most sophisticated commercial sailing fleets, full of vessels eminently convertible to 1812 privateering requirements, they were at this stage less well endowed with steam ships and every steam ship detached to privateering is one less to bring in supplies (though it might capture something useful of course). That said funnily enough the more effective British interdiction the more US privateers we are likely to see.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  11. Jon Crawford Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2017
    Loving the timeline English.
     
    EnglishCanuck likes this.
  12. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    The Commonwealth
    One of the small advantages the Union gets here is that since war doesn't break out until 6th of February (and functionally the 19th of February when news reached the Americas) that there were two whole months for the Union to ferry other foreign supplies in weapons and powder across the Atlantic to slightly make up the inevitable shortfall after the British embargo of December.

    But the sad reality is that the heavier barrels would probably become a necessity.

    Indeed. Commerce raiding, as I have said many times before, is not a war winning strategy. It wasn't in 1775-83 and definitely not in 1812-15. A century later in 1914-18 it didn't even come close to being a strategy which could have brought the Entente to its knees. Expecting anything less in the 1860s would be ludicrous in my opinion. Though, strictly speaking the American vessels aren't privateers, but duly commissioned vessels of the United States Navy. The Declaration of Paris in 1856 would make any American privateers essentially pirates who would be bound to be arrested in whatever port they entered.

    The point about commerce raiding and blockade running is well made. While a vessel like Quaker City or the Vanderbilt might be able to mount two or three guns and still successfully run back and forth across the Atlantic, its far more efficient for the ships to be outfitted as one or the other. But, with 3,000 miles of ocean to cross without running into British ships, you have a daunting task ahead of you.

    Thank you! I'm glad you've been enjoying it and I hope to have new stuff for you soon!
     
Loading...