Wrapped In Flames

Wrapped In Flames

Chapter I

"We will wrap the whole world in flames." United States Secretary of State William H. Seward as overheard at a diplomatic function by William H. Russell in 1862 during the Trent Crisis.

"To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order…” – Confucius

“…when on the 1st of October Albert was riding alone in his carriage in Coburg tragedy struck. On his way to a meeting the carriage, drawn by four horses, bolted with sudden alarm. The driver attempted to reign them in to no avail. The carriage struck the rear of another at a railway crossing in a terrific crash. The driver fell into the seething mass of braying horseflesh but managed to escape relatively unharmed. The Prince Consort was not so lucky.

It is believed that due to the pain from stomach cramps his attempt to jump clear ended with him tumbling from a sudden cramp which meant he fell into the worst possible position as upon impact the carriage crashed and flipped sending Albert hurtling from his seat. He landed two feet away at an unfortunate angle breaking an arm and suffering a serious head wound which rendered him unconscious. He failed to awake an hour later, and at 9pm he was pronounced dead.

Victoria almost immediately went into grieving, and all of Britain joined her…” A Biography of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Nigel Loring, Oxford University, 2011


In raiding and plundering be like fire – Sun Tsu

“…When the American Civil War broke out in April of 1861 the British government in London adopted a policy of neutrality. However, events would transpire which would end up testing that neutrality to the limits. Starting in September 1861 with the St. Albans Raid and continuing up to January 30th 1862 the normally friendly relations between Great Britain and the United States would deteriorate…” To Arms!: America at War 1861-1864, Sheldon Foote, University of Boston 1999.

The Border Crisis:

“On the morning of October 10th 1861 three men checked themselves into a local hotel in St. Albans Vermont. They claimed they were from Saint John’s in Canada (East) and had come to Vermont to have a ‘hunting trip’ which was not unusual for men of middling wealth as they appeared to be. However over the next several days they rarely left the hotel and were steadily joined by nineteen more men. Finally the group struck on the morning of the 19th of October.

The men proclaimed themselves to be in service to the government of the Confederate States of America and acting under orders to collect funds for the war effort. They acted quickly, rounding up the villagers at gun point. Several tried to resist as shouted orders to assemble and Confederate proclamations were called. Two men were killed, one wounded, and a woman injured in the first crossfire but the Confederates seized the town with little difficulty. Nine men held the villagers while the others separated the bank tellers and forced them to open the vaults of the three banks in town. Before they did this they were compelled to swear allegiance to the Confederate States of America, therefore making them accomplices to the robbery (or so the raiders claimed). That done they managed to seize a total of 209,000$ from the three banks, all of the towns horses and over a dozen bottles of liquor. Before they left they tossed incendiary devices at three buildings but these failed to ignite and only burnt down one shed while badly damaging one homes porch.

The men rode like hell for the border and pursuit was not joined for over six hours allowing a clean escape.

These raiders, not being mere bandits, were actually a band of some twenty five Confederate soldiers selected for special service along the British North American frontier with the intent of both pulling Union forces away from the war to the South, and by violating British neutrality they hoped to pull Great Britain into the internecine warfare raging through the United States. It was hoped this would both alleviate the pressure on the Confederacy while also securing foreign recognition thus achieving a fait accompli in diplomatic negotiations with the other nations of the world and thereby dealing fatal blow to Union diplomacy.

The men were led by the daring Confederate cavalry commander John Hunt Morgan, and organized into a quick raiding force meant to cause terror and panic while wreaking havoc behind Union lines. Here he also hoped to steal enough money to fund further campaigns

The raiders next struck six days later, raiding Franklin Vermont on the 23rd in a morning raid seizing the bank teller while starting several fires to distract the townsfolk. They made off with a further 45,000$ but suffered one killed in a gun fight with armed villagers. They again escaped across the border. This time though they were closely pursued by a militia posse.

However, the raiders had split into two groups at this point. The other, under the energetic young lieutenant Bennet H. Young, had split off to deposit their winnings while the others were to lead the posse to the nearest Canadian settlement then disperse. The first thing they found however was a Canadian militia patrol which arrested them immediately. The militia met up with their Americans counterparts who began demanding immediate custody of the fugitives, while the Canadians refused, insisting they be tried in local courts. There was a tense standoff over the next hour while the two sides negotiated.

There was a reluctant agreement and the American militia returned home to inform their government of these events. Meanwhile Young and his men were captured in St. John in an ironic turn of events, and soon all the raiders were held there awaiting trial…”
A History of Special Forces, James Rawles, University of Moscow, Idaho, 2001[2]


The raiders force bank tellers to swear allegiance to the Confederacy

“…the trial was a sensational event both north and south of the border. Newspapers from Maine to Delaware reported on the actions of the raiders as bandits and highwaymen, while in Richmond the men were lauded as heroes. In the Canadian papers the more conservative elements tended to brand them as dashing rebels being a burr in the Union saddle while liberal papers insisted they were nothing but the lowest of criminals beholden to no one but themselves. The trial was held in St John (or Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu) with local lawyer Bernard Devlin speaking on behalf of the prosecution for the Lincoln government and Charles-Joseph Coursol for the defence. However sensational it might be it was soon overshadowed by events further south…

…the trial concluded on December 3rd with Coursol successfully arguing that since the men were acting under orders from their government they could not be extradited as the neutral British nation was not entitled to extradite them. This reading of the law was based on an error in understanding not easily ratified in the courts at this time. Coursol based his arguments on the fact that the Canadian extradition act of 1861 had not been proclaimed by the British parliament (in actuality it had been proclaimed nearly a month before). Still the technicality passed and the raiders were released. The news caused much uproar both within Canada and without and Coursol was soon scapegoated in an attempt to ease the pressure on the government...”
To Arms!: America at War 1861-1864, Sheldon Foote, University of Boston 1999.

The Trent Crisis:

“On November 7th 1862 the British mail steamer R.M.S Trent left Havana harbor bound for St. Thomas and then England. She was carrying the usual dispatches and passengers, but she had two last minute passengers as well. James Mason and John Slidell had recently made a dash to Cuba in order to board a steamer bound for England. They were the representatives chosen by the Confederate States government in Richmond to act as envoys to France and England. The government in Washington had been tracking them and was anxious to capture them in order to prevent any possible recognition of the rebel states. Thankfully these two men would steam almost directly into the hands of USN captain Charles Wilkes…

…Aboard the deck of the USS San Jacinto Wilkes held an impromptu prize court. This was not unusual of Wilkes’s brash and aggressive style of command. It had often been said that had a reputation as a stubborn, overzealous, impulsive, and sometimes insubordinate officer, with Treasury Officer George Harrington writing so Seward saying"He will give us trouble. He has a superabundance of self-esteem and a deficiency of judgment. When he commanded his great exploring mission he court-martialed nearly all his officers; he alone was right, everybody else was wrong." So the quick and abrupt nature of his decision was not unusual for his command style and he needed to make the best of a potentially bad situation. He announced his intention to take the Trent as a prize so he could justify seizing the dispatches of the two envoys. Amazingly none of his officers disagreed with his decision and he proceeded to steam alongside the Trent and fired a warning shot. The Trent had the Union Jack raised high and at first ignored the shot. The second shot however was something which could not be safely ignored and she slowed to allow herself to communicate with a launch party from the San Jacinto…

…almost immediately Lieutenant Fairfax ran into trouble. The crew and passengers of the ship were belligerent and when he announced his intention to seize the ship as a prize a fight broke out between two of the crew and his marines. Though it was quelled almost immediately the passengers proved utterly unwilling to cooperate with Fairfax’s instructions and did everything they could to hamper the search of the ship. Finally events came to a head when Richard Williams (a Royal Navy officer in charge of the ships dispatches) bluntly refused to allow the Confederate envoys bags to be searched. Although it is unclear what happened it is known a fight ensued between Williams and Fairfax which ended in Williams shot dead. Since only Williams, Fairfax and two marine escorts were present at the time of the altercation the truth of the matter will almost certainly never be known, however all present asserted that Fairfax shot in self defence after Williams verbally lashed out and Fairfax produced his pistol in order to make Williams more compliant the marines reported a scuffle ensued in which Fairfax fired his pistol, not intending to kill Williams. The news of the death spread quickly and the remaining passengers and crew settled into reluctant compliance as the Trent was towed back towards Union waters…”
A History of Diplomatic Blunders, Friedrich Kaufmann, Imperial University, Moscow, 1969[3]


The San Jacinto's marines prepare to board the Trent

“…news of the event reached Ottawa and Quebec long before it reached London. At the time most Canadians were still grappling with the court battle in St. Jean and the news of the seizure merely served to add to an alarmist tendency present in much of Canada West. The militia had already been called out on October 25th upon news of the border raid, but now there was a renewed call for volunteers as it was feared the news meant immediate war. Along the border men from Sarnia to Kingston prepared for battle and began drilling with whatever came to hand. Though not encouraged by Ottawa or Quebec it was not discouraged either. From the perspective of Her Majesties Government in Quebec it was a potential way to finally force the colonials to begin adopting some of the expense relating to their defence. From Ottawa’s perspective it gave ammunition to John A. MacDonald’s government with which to browbeat their opponents under John. S. MacDonald to pass a bill relating to the colonies defence. For both parties it seemed like the crisis served an immediate goal of furthering a political agenda.

The news mostly caused outrage in Canada West, one reason the usually the less than enthusiastic militia companies seemed to find their ranks suddenly filled to bursting with new recruits. Petitions to the government to enroll more militia battalions to accommodate the sudden influx of volunteers were written by nearly every community. Requests were made to begin work on a new fort at Sarnia to protect the frontier while in Kingston the volunteer rifles exceeded their authority by expanding their ranks to accommodate an entirely new battalion…

…in Canada East however, not a single shovel was raised to dig earthworks, in many regions militia enrollment remained the same, while others it dwindled as many realized they might be called to die for the crown. Montreal and some surrounding towns had large turnouts, but in the regions where the very old Catholic Francophone population held sway there was one overwhelming feeling, resentment. They felt as though they were being pulled along into an Anglophone’s war they had no stake in. Many south of Montreal were especially bitter as they realized they would be right in the path of the fighting no matter what they did.

The great feeling of many Frenchmen in the farms and villages was that they simply wanted to be left alone. The governments in Ottawa and Quebec were usually far away and other than tax collectors, railroad workers, and constables they rarely made themselves known. Any sort of intrusion into their quiet lives was almost universally unwelcome. The rural French had only poor memories of the English from either side of the border and were more than content to let them kill each other, but they sullenly realized that eventually the fighting would come to their door steps. Some reckoned it was better to fight and defend their homes, others said it was folly to get involved in English business. Why should they fight when at last they had a say in governing? They had men to speak for them, and men who were wise enough to realize they wanted to be left out of English problems.

While in the taverns of Canada West the Anglophones cursed the Yankees who dishonored the Queen, in the taverns of Quebec the Francophones cursed all English speakers and put dark bets on when the shooting would start. If there was one universal feeling amongst the people of the Canadas, it was that war was inevitable…”
The Myth of a United Canada, Isabelle Williams, McGill University, 2009


A company of Canadian militia volunteers at Elora, Canada West 1862

[1] The accident is real, but the Prince survived with a few minor bruises. Coincidentally after the accident he decided he wasn’t long for this world.

[2] This is of course the infamous St. Albans raid, but moved up earlier at the request of a particular Kentuckian.

[3] Yes the cliché Trent affair! While reading about it I was fairly surprised by how belligerent the crew of the Trent was with the marines of the San Jacinto, and OTL Fairfax did have an altercation with the Royal Navy officer over the dispatches. Here it just gets a little out of hand for reasons unknown. This is more than enough, coupled with the border incident to get the blood of the British politicians up to start acting belligerent, especially when one considers how Palmerston was never the sort of ‘military action as a last resort’ as a prime minister.

However, it of course won't lead to war by itself...

Well here's my shot at the Anglo-American war idea. I'm writing this to explore the effects on North America specifically, but also the effects it would have on Canada as well since it would probably be the definitive moment of 'Canadian' history at this point.

I'm also going to examine the effects on the broader world as well. Mind you we first have to set the stage then continue on to the meat of the story, with some narrative which I hope won't be too awful :p Anyways the second chapter will be up come the weekend I think with a narrative bit just after.
Charles Wilkes had a very interesting life. For example, he was related to the notorious John Wilkes, and also to the Booth family of actors. And after his mother died, he was raised by his aunt, who had the patience of a saint*.

Then, he was named commander of the United States Exploring Expedition, where he managed to fire every subordinate officer, all of whom returned to the States and got in their version of the events first.

And now of course there's this.
* St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Really.
Charles Wilkes had a very interesting life. For example, he was related to the notorious John Wilkes, and also to the Booth family of actors. And after his mother died, he was raised by his aunt, who had the patience of a saint*.

Then, he was named commander of the United States Exploring Expedition, where he managed to fire every subordinate officer, all of whom returned to the States and got in their version of the events first.

And now of course there's this.
* St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Really.

Wilkes was indeed quite the character. Temperamental, self-possessed of an absolute certainty, narcissistic, and quite unpleasant. That he didn't cause a worse international incident IRL was quite fortuitous.

Williams however, was almost suicidally belligerent in the face of armed US Marines which probably could have gotten him killed in OTL.


Okay, but I hope you will not mind the level of

Hehehe I've done a few collaborations in my time and they rarely aren't messy! And thanks Chapter II is incoming ... Well we shall see shall we?

Okay, but I hope you will not mind the level of depth of read in return...;)

Seriously, I'm interested where you go with this; the PODs are (significantly) less than in BROS, and even I had a hard time seeing anyone pulling the trigger ....

Speaking of which, I posted some responses to your last, as well as the (last but one) section of Chapter 9 of BROS... you will, I think, appreciate it.

Chapter II

“Those wars are unjust that are undertaken without provocation. For only a war waged for revenge or defense can be just.” – Cicero

“News of the St. Albans raid arrived in London on November 4th 1862. There was immediate alarm in the Cabinet, Admiralty, and War Department. There was also outrage. For their part the British government had adhered to strict neutrality thus far in the conflict. Her subjects however, had been of middling ground. In Bermuda the economy was again booming thanks to blockade runners, and British ship builders had made a tidy profit from financing and constructing such vessels (it was only the colonial Spanish government in Cuba which made more through such adventures), and many in the aristocracy either openly supported the Confederacy or were quietly sending funds to aid it.

Despite this, the government’s position was clear, and Lord Palmerston rigidly adhered to it. He was however, partial to a Confederate victory. He believed that secession was inevitable and that through force of arms the Confederacy would tear the United States apart and in doing so alleviate many of Britain’s concerns regarding her security on the American continent. He was said to be in a good mood whenever he heard of Confederate victories and had treated the news of secession with “undisguised delight”. He had however, since the beginning of the crisis, pushed for further security in British North America, fearing that the Americans would “seek to compensate their loss of the Southern states with gains in the North” and in doing so challenge British dominion.

To compensate he had consistently proposed since the start of the crisis in 1860 for the reinforcement of the garrison in the Canadas to be increased to ten thousand men. In this he had been consistently opposed by his Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Gladstone.

He and Gladstone had never seen eye-to-eye on any subject, but specifically on issues of foreign policy, civil reform, Church reform, and those of defense. The invasion scare brought on by tensions with the French over their intervention in Italy had led to ill-founded fears of a cross Channel invasion prompting a series of proposals for fortifications along the coasts and major ports. Gladstone had immediately cited the costs of such fortifications and bemoaned the entire process, despite Palmerston eventually getting his way. When the Civil War broke out Palmerston and Gladstone had immediately been at odds once again over the matter. Though both men supported neutrality the two men were at immediate odds on how Britain should compose herself. Palmerston advocated for a strong show of force to ensure the wayward Republic would not seek to compensate the inevitable loss of her Southern states with British possessions in North America and so demanded the reinforcement and strengthening of their military positions in the Canadas and Maritimes. Gladstone instead advocated caution and restraint seeing the measures as unnecessary in the face of inevitable Southern secession, expensive, and certain to irritate the United States which might inadvertently galvanize them to hasty action, something he argued that Britain should be keen to avoid in terms of expenses involved and the potential blow to her trade.

Once news the St. Albans Raid and Trent Affair both reached the offices of Parliament it became clear to most observers that Palmerston had the right of it. On news of the Border Raids he is reported to have claimed “A show of strength is now most preferable, lest either side determine they can steer British policy through acts of violence.” News of the Trent Affair further discredited Gladstone’s softer approach in both the eyes of the Cabinet and the British public.

The seizure of a British ship had outraged the British public, and the death of a British officer merely added injury to insult. There was uproar in even the most Union friendly parts of the country over the ‘piratical actions’ of Captain Wilkes. Palmerston was said to have angrily stormed into the emergency cabinet meeting throwing his hat on the table and proclaiming "I don't know whether you are going to stand this, but I'll be damned if I do." Proclaiming the act a “Gross national insult and an injustice of outrageous barbarism.”…

…Though the Cabinet had met earlier in November and agreed to Palmerston’s demand for more troops in the America’s it was now decided a further show of force was necessary. On November 10th ten thousand men had been ordered ready to cross the Atlantic to the Canada’s, much to Palmerston’s pleasure. However, First Lord of the Admiralty Edward Seymour, First Duke of Somerset, continuously put off the issue of reinforcing the North Atlantic or West Indies squadrons, despite repeated pleas from Admiral Milne and Lord Russell earlier in the year to reinforce them lest they prove weaker in comparison to those of France in the region. Constant arguments failed to move him and he had continuously put off the issue citing ‘other pressing matters’ and parroted Gladstone’s concerns about expense while dismissing the concerns of Milne and Russell as ‘alarmist’. Recent events moved him to sluggish action, his only earlier concession had been to grudgingly assent to the dispatch of a Royal Navy officer, some aides, a company of Royal Marines, and a quarter master general to see what could be done at Kingston to prepare the regions defences.

The seizure of the Trent and death of a British subject had forced him into making much begrudged plans of action. Rear-Admiral Milne was immediately reinforced with ships, bringing the strength of his squadron up to some forty-five vessels with others being prepared for service. He still attempted to hold forces back however, fearing British distraction in North America would galvanize France into action on the continent.

The diplomatic correspondence from France on the 29th of November put these fears to rest however, and allowed for more, much grander schemes to be hatched. War plans were made and it was determined to send some thirty-thousand troops to North America to be on station in case of the outbreak of war, with potentially more to be dispatched if war broke out…”
Empire and Blood: British Military Operations in the 19th Century Volume IV, Sir Christopher Lee, Imperial Press, 1989


Prime Minister Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

Incident of November 19th

“In the weeks following the Border Raids and the USS San Jacinto’s seizure of the RMS Trent the already high level of tensions between the USN’s blockading fleet and the ships of the Royal Navy observing blockade and policing the blockaders reached almost fever pitch….

The USS Dacotah was returning from her pre-war posting in the East India station of the fleet to participate in the blockade of the South. She was a modern screw warship, ranking as a sloop of war carrying eight guns and capable of reaching up to 11 knots. She is captained by Commander James McKinstry of the United States Navy. He is eager to be home as his nation is at war, and he seeks to do the most he can in order to protect his homeland from enemies both foreign and domestic. On their way they dock at St. Thomas where they receive news of a Confederate raider at large in the Caribbean. The CSS Sumter under the command of Raphael Semmes operating off the waters near Cuba, he is warned by the merchant freighter E.J. Talbot, unaware of the current whereabouts of the raider McKinstry decides to escort the Talbot back to the safety of American waters…

…on the morning of November 19th the lookout aboard Dacotah spots an unidentified ship on the horizon. From a distance she appears to be a sailing vessel much similar to the Confederate raider, and she flies no visible colors aboard her mast. Erring on the side of caution McKinstry orders the Talbot to flee while he moves to intercept the approaching vessel. As they come within range a warning shot is fired, the vessel is tardy in raising her colors. McKinstry now sure he is facing a Confederate raider orders his crew ready for action, but just to be sure orders another warning shot to be fired across the bow of the approaching vessel from 200 yards.

In actuality the vessel is not the CSS Sumter, but the British ironclad battery HMS Terror. The Terror is a remnant of the Crimean War, an Erebus Class ironclad floating battery she is a formidable weapons platform, but a poor ship. Though she is rated for eighteen guns she only carries sixteen currently mounting no chase weapons. She is commanded by the sixty-one year old Frederick Hutton, a long time Royal Navy officer and a veteran of the Crimean War. Hutton is outraged by the gross insult and belligerence presented to him by the captain of the American vessel. To be challenged once from a distance is understandable, to be challenged twice and at closer range is outright aggression to most naval commanders.

He is unaware that the rising sun blinds the American crew and prevents them from accurately identifying his colors from afar. What he is aware of however, is the mounting tensions between the Empire and the United States. He has been kept abreast of the situation in North America, but he is also aware of the belligerent actions of another American navy captain in seizing a British flagged ship. Though he has been ordered to preserve his vessel from action by Admiral Milne of the North American and West Indies Station and to not allow her to come under American guns without reason Hutton comes to the completely astounding conclusion that the Empire and the Union are at war, this in spite of the protests of his first officer and the ships surgeon who point out the potentially unclear circumstances for the American ship. Hutton dismisses these concerns and orders the crew to readiness and runs up the battle ensign. He orders that should the American vessel close within 100 yards they will open fire.

Eventually Dacotah does close to within roughly one hundred yards of the British vessel and Hutton gives the order to open fire, which is reluctantly complied with by his first officer. The sudden British aggression shocks the crew of the Dacotah who are suddenly aware she is a neutral vessel are caught off guard by the broadside. Though McKinstry’s men were manning their posts, upon the discovery of a neutral ship many were suddenly at ease by her presence. The broadside catches them in a moment of weakness and they scramble to reply. Unfortunately despite an excellent display of American gunnery they are shocked to discover they have not even dented the British ship.

A second broadside from Terror spreads further carnage amongst the crew of the Dacotah and McKinstry is caught in a quandary. He is unsure of the type of ships he is engaging and orders the sloop to full speed. Using his superior maneuverability they steam away behind the Terror and fire a few shots at her rudder, unfortunately her rear is not exposed and Dacotah’s shots are just as useless as their first salvo. They circle again, out of range of the British guns, attempting to signal the British ship. However, through the gun smoke this is not seen by the Terror, which though slower, maneuvers to place her guns within firing range of the American ship. Still under fire McKinstry realizes that his attempts at diplomacy are useless and orders the British ship subdued…

…though the action continues for an hour and a half more with the Dacotah staying at maximum range from the slower Terror, her crew is unable to seriously damage the British ship. Meanwhile the Terror is unable to seriously engage the Dacotah due to the sloop’s superior speed. Though Hutton has managed to move two guns into the chase mounts he has not managed to inflict the same rate of damage on the Dacotah as he had in the earlier moments of the engagement and McKinstry is far too cautious to attempt to close with the British ironclad again. The Terror though has been demasted and her conning tower holed…

…The action ends when a sail is spotted on the horizon. McKinstry stays only long enough to see if it is friend or foe. When the lookout reports seeing the white ensign of the Royal Navy he reluctantly disengages from the fight turning towards the north and steaming off to a neutral port to repair and re-supply and send a message to Washington regarding the events. His ship is not badly mauled but it has taken serious damage to the rigging on her mainsail and her sidewalls are structurally compromised on her port side. He has suffered some 29 casualties, five fatal and two more men will be dead before the day is out.

Terror on the other hand has suffered only one wounded from a mishap while handling her guns. The vessels iron plating has held, and despite her lack of maneuverability she has stood up to the pounding dealt out by the American vessel remarkably well. Though Hutton is frustrated he will not be able to engage and capture the American ship due to the ironclad batteries' inferior speed, he assumes that he has inflicted serious damage on his opponent while suffering negligible damage to his own ship, a fact he will take great pains to make clear in his report, which will have serious repercussions on the war as a whole.

When the second Royal Navy vessel arrives it proves to be sloop HMS Rinaldo under William Hewett. Hewett is shocked to learn of the unprovoked American attack, and after a brief conference with Hutton they agree to travel in strength with the Rinaldo taking Terror under tow to Nassau where they can support to their superiors. While en-route Hutton and his crew draw up a report of the incident which will be shipped to London upon their arrival at the Royal Navy base.”
From the Navy Gazette, “The Action of November 19th 1861” by Joseph Tatopoulos[1]


HMS Terror

“Lay not the blame on me, O sailor, but on the winds. By nature I am as calm and safe as the land itself, but the winds fall upon me with their gusts and gales, and lash me into a fury that is not natural to me.” ― Aesop

“The Border Raids had caused considerable sensation in the Union. There had been a fair amount outrage directed towards the British authorities for allowing such events to take place and there were some calls to immediately invade British North America to secure the frontier. Some even wondered why the British simply didn’t declare war on the Confederacy themselves. News of the Trent Affair merely added fuel to this fire of public sentiment. Despite the fact a British citizen had been killed many were too riled up to consider this fact and simply felt Britain was getting her due for being supportive of the Confederacy. Newspapers across the nation printed stories praising Wilkes as a hero and many Americans found any conceivable legal explanation, no matter how odd, to justify Wilkes actions in the seizure of the British ship.

For his part Lincoln was anxious to put the whole event out of the public view and get back to fighting the real war to preserve the Union. His administration had fairly shaky relations with Britain however. Part of this stemmed from the bellicose actions of his Secretary of State William H. Seward. In British circles Seward was seen as a war hawk and proponent of war with Britain, making the Foreign Office in London deeply suspicious of Lincoln’s administration as a whole and merely furthering Palmerston’s worries regarding the security of the British North American possessions. Lord Lyons, Ambassador to Washington wrote “I cannot help fearing that he will be a dangerous foreign minister. His view of the relations between the United States and Great Britain had always been that they are a good material to make political capital of... I do not think Mr. Seward would contemplate actually going to war with us, but he would be well disposed to play the old game of seeking popularity here by displaying violence toward us.” It was this unfortunate cycle of both public outrage and mutual suspicion which led to early negotiations being incredibly tense.

Lincoln’s administration was caught in a quandary about what was to be done regarding Trent’s seizure. The commissioners would need to be released, Lincoln was adamant about that, but the Trent herself was a problem. Releasing her would be tantamount to an admission of wrong doing on the part of the government, but keeping her to be adjudicated in an Admiralty court would be unprecedented since she had not broken the blockade and nor was Britain at war with the Union. In a meeting with his Cabinet on the 16th of November he discussed the issue with his financial, diplomatic and military advisers…

...Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase was adamant that war be avoided. The mere hint of a threatened war with Britain was causing economic calamity stocks being sold for shares in gold and saltpeter as a panic ensued and banks were steadily suspending specie payments. Panicked investors had had a run on banks withdrawing millions with no sign of stopping. He had received no word from investors in London yet but he assured the president it would not be good…

…Gideon Welles cautioned the president as to what a potential war could do to the thus far successful blockade strategy, as well the potentially disastrous issue of diplomatic recognition. He agreed that the Confederate delegates could do more harm sitting in a jail cell in the Union than pleading their case in England. He advised sending them speedily on their way and for them to be given every courtesy while the issue of the death of a British naval officer would need to be handled most delicately. Clearly some sort of explanation would need to be delivered to the British, but the manner of that explanation would need to be satisfactory to all parties. He stressed that under Maritime law Wilkes seizure of the Trent was questionable at best, and violated every protection afforded a neutral ship. It would be unwise to hold the boat and releasing it was certainly the best of a number of bad options.

Maritime law of the era had prevented neutral ships from being arbitrarily seized by a belligerent power in a conflict. The seizure of neutral persons was in and of itself a gross insult to a national body, one the United States had gone to war over in 1812. Seizing the ambassadors as contraband had been a particularly poor choice on Wilkes part as it evoked not only uncomfortable images of slaves sent back to their masters, but flew in the face of the legal precedent the United States herself had tried to enforce half a century ago. Wilkes actions in claiming the Trent as a prize might have legitimized the declaration of the two ambassadors as contraband, but under Maritime law it would only have been enforceable had the Trent been in violation of the American blockade, which she was clearly not. The other problem which remained that only goods of an enemy power could be seized as contraband and the Union had vigorously insisted that the conflict between the North and the South was an internal matter, and that Britain’s granting of belligerent status violated that position. This complicated the matter of allowing an Admiralty court to adjudicate the matter as it would violate the Union’s own stance on the nature of Confederate legal status.

…Seward, for all his bluster, was no fool. He immediately realized that action had to be taken to diffuse the crisis. He was however, painfully aware of the public mood. Any action taken too soon would be seen as the administration bowing to foreign pressure, but any delay would be seen as American duplicity by London. To that end he proposed to take advantage in the delay allowed by trans-Atlantic communications to let tensions cool on both sides and for wiser heads to prevail….”
Snakes and Ladders: The Lincoln Administration and America’s Darkest Hour, Hillary Saunders, Scattershot Publishing, 2003

“When news of the Terror-Dacotah Action reached Ottawa and Montreal, the reactions amongst the people of the Canadas ranged from patriotic outrage, to extreme panic. The panic was of course a product of the tales exaggeration in its telling. Many had heard the story from a friend or a friend of a friend or a travelling merchant. War had broken out and the Royal Navy was breaking the blockade, some said. Others said America had struck first and that an invasion could be expected any day. Still others insisted that it was simple gossip and nothing more, until the papers reported on the truth of the incident.

The news that an American warship had again violated the British flag simply hardened opinions across the Canadas and the Maritimes. The Border Raids had shifted public opinion to the stance that the Americans were dragging them into a war they did not want, while the Trent Affair made it seem as though the Union was deliberately trying to antagonize Britain. Now it seemed as though the alarmist predictions of the papers were correct and the Union was trying to end their own war by dragging the Empire in so as to attempt to rally around the flag in a surge of patriotism to restore the Union. This of course merely inflamed opinion in both Canada West and East.

Canada West of course had a long history of loyalism. She had been mostly settled by Loyalists fleeing persecution by the rebels in 1783 and fought to maintain her independence in the face of American aggression in 1812. Her biggest cities of Kingston and Toronto were bastion of Loyalist political sentiment and filled with men loyal to Queen and Empire. Even recent immigrants were eager to fit in so naturally gathered around the flag to proclaim their support to the Queen and cement their place in society. In Toronto the cultural memory of the burning of York held strong, not in the least because the officers at Fort York found mentioning the old conflagration stirred memories of the devastation wrought by the more recent fire of 1849[2], and it proved quite useful in stoking the fires of loyalism.

The traditional narrative dating back to 1812 was that once again the militia would form and chase the invaders back across the rivers and fields and defend the homeland. While this of course propagated a militia myth no less infectious and absurd as the consistently appearing one south of the border it did serve to increase the number of men who willingly enrolled themselves on the militia lists over the winter, especially after the issuing of Militia Order No. 1 from Quebec…

In Canada East the earlier apathy or surly resignation was replaced by a different kind of outrage. There were indeed those who were loyal to Queen and Empire and of course there were those who had no love of the political body in Montreal or Quebec, however, most still simply wanted to be left to live their lives in peace and raise their children according to their own values. Now it seemed that rather than the Empire drawing them into a war through Imperial policy, the Americans would draw them into one through arrogance and abrasive action. However, besides Montreal and the immediate region north and West of the island of the same name, there was little new enthusiasm for enlistment amongst the rural peoples. There was a surge of resentment towards Americans however, even the men of the villages and hamlets close to the border found themselves more surly with American guests, and American traders sensed a distinct dislike cast their way by the locals. Most simply hoped the current state of tension would pass quickly. Others however, saw an opportunity…”
The Myth of a United Canada, Isabelle Williams, McGill University, 2009


[1] Well the section has been changed but allow me to elaborate on just why this event has taken place. I have heard it said, and seen the claim made a few times while researching this subject that the USS Dacotah and the HMS Terror nearly opened fire on one another in November 1861, regardless of whether this is true it makes for an interesting act of escalation which can of course be construed in differing ways by both sides.

It gives some impetus for outrage on both sides of the Atlantic, patriotism has never been something that breeds incredibly rational thought now has it?

[2] Nothing like a fear of fire to fan the flames eh?
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I'd leave the Dacotah-Terror thing out, or come up

I'd leave the Dacotah-Terror thing out, or totally rewrite it in your own voice, or come up with something else; it's an interesting premise, but a) it's not yours, and b) there are some pretty off-putting grammatical and style errors that don't mesh well at all with your work.

You could offer it up as an "alternate history" version of events, but that doesn't really accomplish your goal...



Not any more than the British did with

Damn, the US has really screwed the pooch. :eek:

Not any more than the British did with Leopard-Chesapeake or the US did with President-Little Belt, and neither of those led directly to war.

It took a LOT to generate conflict in the Nineteenth Century; a single "Trent Affair" or "Laird Rams" incident would not do it.

It takes a lot to generate one today, as witness Saumurez-Volage, Liberty, or Pueblo, for that matter...

:eek: :eek: :eek:

Def-Con by Kim Kyungjin, the infamous Koreanwank, is better than Stars and Stripes Forever.

ANYTHING is better than Stars and Stripes Forever!

Get your priorities straight, man!

Heck, Robert Conroy's book about this was better than that series.
I'd leave the Dacotah-Terror thing out, or totally rewrite it in your own voice, or come up with something else; it's an interesting premise, but a) it's not yours, and b) there are some pretty off-putting grammatical and style errors that don't mesh well at all with your work.

You could offer it up as an "alternate history" version of events, but that doesn't really accomplish your goal...


I'll probably just re-edit it then. It won't take too much time to do over the weekend.

I'll also get around to reading your most recent update and make a response this weekend as well.

How far are you going with this?

Good start, BTW.

Hmm well I've only really got up till the end of 1863 planned this far and as far as 1866 reasonably planned out. Thanks for the compliment!
You left out the author for Empire and Blood, BTW.

One request, BTW: do not abandon this...
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