The 1860’s started with a general feel of worry and some fear as the World appeared to be slipping into conflict after conflict. The Brandenburg War had seemingly been a precursor of what was to follow as the nations of the World grew more hostile with each other. The French Empire and the Kingdom of Poland had the German Confederation effectively hamstrung and were willing to carve the Confederation to pieces given the chance. In the east, China was growing increasingly belligerent against foreign traders; Britain in particular as its traders from India were trying to tone down the opium trade with mixed success as the amount of profits made any attempts to fully tackle the trade half hearted to say the least. Japan was undergoing the skirmishes associated with the lead up to a Civil War while Russia rubbed its hands in glee.
The rising tensions would lead to outright conflicts but for now, people’s attention was on North America where a neutral Canada and Wanci Oyate keeping a wary eye on the conflict in the south, looking to see what affect it would have. The Juntist philosophy was seen as dangerous by Canada as California appeared to have ambitions to outright annex most of North America while Wanci Oyate kept its usual suspicious glance on all its neighbours, only wanting to be involved in it own affairs.
The New Jersey War, as it would come to be known, was one which seemed decided from the outset. To the untrained eye, the US was bound to lose, having to fight a War on two fronts against a nation it had lost to once before and another which had an Army fresh off a victory against another foe. However, these overlooked the factors that the US had quietly been building up its forces over the last few years, had one of the best trained Armies in North America and possibly the World with a much greater amount of supplies than in the Four Year War.
What the New England/California were really expecting was the US splitting up its forces and fighting on two fronts, weakening it greatly like what had happened in the Four Year War. This however, was not to be as Abraham Lincoln, at great resistance, had managed to push through a ‘New England First’ strategy. The US would concentrate the majority of its forces on New England, eliminating the threat first before swinging its forces back round to the west to eliminate the Californian threat. Only a force meant to hold off the invasion from California for a long enough time for New England to be defeated would be left.
The strategy, although greatly controversial even to this day was one that Lincoln seized on, believing that the US had lost the previous War due to a lack of concentration of its forces. To that end, the Army was quickly sent north to be formed at the border with New England, travelling on lines laid down by Robert E. Lee, the US army’s Chief Engineer. The speed of the mobilisation shocked everyone, the trains taking the troops right up to the border within days. The forces built up were ready to strike right at the very heart of one enemy as in its bid to eliminate it first.
As winter neared its end, the border of New York was crossed by a US Army of 60,000 from the south into New Jersey and another Army of 85,000 into New York itself. The New England mobilisation, compared to that of the US, was slow and unprepared for the US strike, their border forces being overwhelmed completely. US forces struck deep into the two states, being welcomed with cheers by the long term population along the way. The New England Army had to flee from the oncoming onslaught, fleeing north to the New York border with the core New England provinces.
Resistance to the US advance was sporadic and quickly swept aside as the majority of the Army regrouped north. The previous advantages of the New England Army such as advanced artillery, ability to get a greater amount of men on the ground and a greater amount of supplies had all been nullified in this conflict and with no close aid from Britain or Wanci Oyate, were severely outnumbered. By the end of the month, the New England Army had managed to gather in Northern New York but had lost New Jersey completely and New York City had been liberated, giving the US two major propaganda and morale boosts.
The beleaguered New England forces managed to regroup around Chesterfield in Northern New York, forming an Army of 60,000 to stem the tide if possible. The Army was confused and demoralised after the chase with more than a few soldiers having fallen by the wayside to some impromptu lynching by New York residents. The call up for more troops was slow for New England as Boston panicked and the response was hectic and without central direction, Boston’s authority having been weakened over the reign of the Industrial Party in lieu of greater state’s rights. Many states looked to the approaching American advance and thought that it wouldn’t be entirely clever to send their men out to die… Despite the furious orders by the central Government, few states wanted to reinforce the New England Army and as the month closed, it suffered because of it.
The Army of 70,000 (15,000 having been left behind to secure supplies and prevent against surprise attack by any New England force on their lines) under Colonel Achilles Grant marched against the New England forces in haste, wanting to eliminate them before they had a chance to collect their thoughts and put up a better defence. This exhausted the US troops as they neared Chesterfield but succeeded in scaring the New England Army further. The seemingly unstoppable march undermined any courage the New England Army might have had as well as the sheer size of the Armies in New York which further discouraged them.
The order to stand firm from Boston was greatly resented by the Army as the smart choice would have been to withdraw into friendly territory away from the hostile environment. But the idea that too much had already been given up was present throughout the current administration, much to the chagrin of the Army. The Battle of Chesterfield was a complete and utter rout for New England. The Armies met on the 8th with the New England Army confused, worried and with low morale.
The US Army, although tired, was eager for battle and revenge for the Four Years War almost twenty years previous. The battle joined at 1:27 PM with an artillery blast from the Americans followed by a general infantry advance. All things considered, the New England troops managed to put up a somewhat spirited defence before gradually starting to crumble under the pressure of the infantry attack and artillery bombardment. The killing stroke came at 3:20 PM when a cavalry attack from the US Army started to turn their left flank. Within the hour, the lines had started to collapse completely and the New England Army was routed at a cost of 17,000 casualties to the 9000 suffered by the Americans.
Forced to flee north in order to recuperate, the New England Army was neutered for the time being as the US Army struck east, taking no rest as they struck towards Boston itself, using their artillery to bombard the forts that stood in the way. Due to the expenses related to the occupation of New York and New Jersey, these forts had been somewhat neglected and were collapsing before the pressure. With the question being not if, but when these forts would collapse which would lead to Massachusetts becoming vulnerable to any US attack. Unable to cope or guarantee any help from the other states, New England was forced into surrender, unable to fight on. A ceasefire was arranged and negotiations began in order for a general peace to be made.
There was to no doubt that the terms were to be harsh, Lincoln even going as far to quote Shakespeare in insisting on gaining a ‘pound of flesh’ from New England to a friend. The US insisted taking the negotiations to Boston itself, wanting to inflict every last humiliation it could on the wayward nation. Forced into agreement, negotiations commenced in the very halls of the New England Senate with the NE Government browbeaten into agreeing with the claims of the US Government. Achilles Grant gained great popularity back home with his much publicised forceful insistence on getting everything that the US demanded. Such was his rising popularity that Lincoln began to toy with the idea of offering him the Vice-Presidency as other events in the west looked to afflict Lincoln’s own popularity.
California and Texas had started to probe the US defences on the Western border, surprised at the lack of resistance. Their tentative steps however were cut short when news of New England’s defeat reached the Juntist Republic’s ears and the realisation that the Western states were much more vulnerable than originally thought. General Ferdinand Manta ordered a direct attack on the states, seeing nothing more than a land grab. He was opposed by the faction headed by Josiah Norton who said that Manta was betraying the Revolution and was turning the nation into a dictatorship. Manta replied by simply having Norton arrested on the charge of treason against the state.
This was a large gamble on Manta’s part, Norton still retaining some popularity and influence within California and his arrest made many stir with trepidation. This confinement was harsh on Norton, his prison being the worst in all California and was largely blamed for his later ‘eccentricities’ which he became legendary for. He still maintained his outside contacts as much as he possibly could and resisted as much as he was able to Manta’s attempts to force him to recant his positions. The assault went on after Manta had secured his position, the Californian Army striking east as a Texan Army went north, both trying to take as much territory as possible and meet up to combine their strength against any American counter-attack.
This plan overlooked the obvious deficiencies in the Californian and Texan Armies as being bloated, stretched and overly reliant on ideology for its officers rather than talent. The plan that Manta cooked up (A march straight to the Mississippi was borderline suicidal for the Army but was what Manta envisioned) was greatly underestimating what the US Army was capable of but Manta justified by believing that by the time they had regrouped, it would be too late. His delusions would lead to utter disaster not just for California, but for Juntism in general.
As the War in North America advanced, events elsewhere in the World carried on regardless. In London, on the 13th the states of Britain, Ireland, Canada, Madras and Newfoundland signed the Treaty which established the Imperial Commonwealth. Based somewhat off the Imperial Federacion, the Commonwealth was a federation of states with strong ties or had been created by the British Empire. The Commonwealth agreed to share Military, economic and political aims as co-signatories. The establishment of an international Parliament was a major factor in this, with the seats being allocated thusly, Britain having 120, Ireland, Canada and Newfoundland having forty seats while Madras gained thirty. The Parliament was to decide factors such as a common foreign policy, a combined Army and Navy ability and setting tariffs to turn the Commonwealth into one economic as well as political block.
Although Britain sacrificed a grand majority within the Commonwealth Parliament, it seemed highly unlikely that the other nations could ever get together enough votes to actually over power the British dominance. Seats were to always be available for renegotiating in terms of amount to nations as the number of those involved with the Commonwealth was increased. As the reforms started which aimed to give the Commonwealth a unified Army and Navy went underway. The Parliament was to sit in a newly built structure in London on the River Thames which was to serve as the foundation of the Commonwealth as a political force.
The final decision of conjoining the nations of the British Empire into the Commonwealth was greeted much celebration by the various ex-colonies, pleased at the new voice they had in Imperial matters. Jeremiah Sutton, one of the great agitators for Imperial Federation was offered a position on a seat of the first group of MP’s to sit in the Commonwealth Council when it was to first meet in two years time. Sutton agreed and he began to make preparations to stand for the Commonwealth Council, seeing it as a way to further the cause for a stable British Empire and a better Ireland.
The international reaction to this was either one of generally ignoring it all, suspicion or in the case of Spain, rather humorous. A message was sent to Parliament in London by the Spanish Ambassador, with the insistence that it should be read before the Commons. Rather worried, the Liberal Government did so, opening the envelope containing the message before a Full House only to read out five words.
“We thought of it first.”
The Californian advance, such as it was, had long since petered out, far away from the Mississippi River, much to Manta’s fury. The advance had barely reached Beaver Creek in the Western US before the supply situation forced it to halt. Along with that, the US was quickly sending an Army west to finally confront the Californian Army, their job in New England taken over by newer recruits. Manta ordered the Army to take up positions where they were, ignoring the advice of many who said the Army needed to be pulled back before it was destroyed. The Army was ordered to stop at a bridge at Bridge Creek, with the intention of throwing back the American troops before resuming the advance.
The occupation of the Western States by the Californian troops was brutal with regular theft and looting taking place so the soldiers could eat. When the residents resisted, they were shot on sight. When word was spread that Lincoln had deliberately stripped the west of troops in order to win in the east, the reaction against him and the National Party was immense with the impact being that no Western State would ever elect a National Party representative at all for over a century. This was a rather moot point for now however as the build up of troops in the state of Kansas was on, the US needing time to build up logistics and manpower. Lincoln had ordered a grand offensive against the Californian forces, and he wanted them off US soil before the election.
This would be hard to do, while the New England first strategy had done wonders in the East; the position in the West was less secure as the lack of troops and need to build up a working Army and the right amount of supplies was desperately felt. Lincoln was told that in order for the grand sweep into California he envisioned, it would take some further months in order for it to take place or he’d have to settle for merely chasing the Californians to the border in two months and then go into the Juntist Republic itself after winter had passed. Reluctantly, Lincoln opted for the second option, wanting to secure as many votes as possible as well as secure the Western states.
As forces grew in the west, the east saw the final ceasing of hostilities where the Treaty of Boston humiliated New England utterly. As expected, New York and New Jersey were given ceded back to the US but the other clauses were set out to utterly destroy New England’s pride immensely. Not only having to pay almost crippling indemnities, New England also had to accept a War guilt clause, a limitation on its Navy and an agreement to not build border defences within twenty miles of the border with the US. Pressed by Colonel Grant, New England was beaten into submission, revenge for the Four Year being savoured oh so sweetly as humiliation after humiliation was heaped onto it.
It was also Colonel Grant who brought news of the Treaty, sensing a way into public acclaim; he jumped into a train carriage, got to the border, hopped onto another train directly to Washington D.C. where he was surrounded by crowds as he pulled out a copy of the Treaty and read it out, his voice being drowned out by the roar of the crowd as the clauses were read out. This piece of political manoeuvring did not go unnoticed as Lincoln noted the Colonel’s popularity and began to seriously consider offering him the Vice-Presidency as a way to keep up flagging National support in some areas of the country.
It was in the Oval Office itself that Grant was offered the position under Lincoln and he jumped at the offer, seeing it as a first step in a political career. Pleased that his offer had been accepted, Lincoln then looked to November and the victory in the west that would secure his historic third term in office.
The counter-offensive against California began in earnest as the US Army aimed to drive them back to their native country with a bullet in their gullet. The position of the Californian Army at Beaver Creek was fairly strong and seemed quite secure from attack, the supply situation having finally been sorted out to a degree. However, US artillery had been brought up which had the range to pound safely from a distance in the Californian Army from across the river. Using all forms of ammo made in American factories, an almost endless barrage struck the unprepared Californian troops without mercy, tearing their ranks to pieces with no room for being able to build defences.
This was truly the first War where artillery came into dominance as new developments in technology allowed that wing of the Military to truly come to its own. With no conflict which had fully used artillery to its fullest potential, or, only using outdated pieces, the US was at an advantage in pioneering this way of War. The bombardment which racked and wrecked the Californian position was proof of this. The California position was weakened incredibly with the bombardment that lasted for nearly an entire day before a dawn assault across the river finally broke their lines.
Driven back, the Californian troops were forced to retreat as the US Army harried their every move to the border. The ensuing skirmishes only reinforced the superiority that the Americans held in their Army over the Californians as they finally liberated US soil from California. By the end of October, the border was the new front for conflict and both Armies rested for winter, preparing for a spring offensive.
The US election came and went with the Lincoln-Grant ticket managing a landslide in the majority of states, winning Lincoln a historic third term as President. Tell tale signs began to show however as the Congress Party began to finally break through, winning several Western states outright as outrage against the Nationalist Party was felt. The 1860 election saw the beginning of the rise of Congress Party fortunes in the US with the West being their home base. This saw a realignment of politics as the Congress Party began to be seen as the true opposition force it could be and, crucially, the anti-slavery Party…