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The UNLOST Cause

© Final Sword Productions 2002

Post Chancellorsville Robert E. Lee stands ascendant as the one star in the dismal Confederate strategic picture.  Desperate to save Vicksburg, the Western Concentration Block in the Confederate Congress forces on him the title of General in Chief.  For wonder of wonders, Jeff Davis agrees and does not fight them over it.  Plagued by his personal and political woes, Davis decides to take his constitutional position literally.  He and Lee concoct a plan to win the war by year’s end and proceed to do so.

Command changes come first.  Lee wanted seven brigades back for his summer offensive.  Davis does one better and assembles an additional fresh division under Isaac Trimble.  Assembled a brigade here and there from coastal and East Tennessee commands it will fill the place at the tail end of the line of march that Pickett occupied in OTL (in the rear guarding the trains).  This means that Pickett at his full five brigades will be available by late on July 1st at Gettysburg.

Next, Lee does not reorganize as in OTL.  Longstreet’s Corps is left alone with Anderson still attached.  Stuart is left in his temporary command of Second Corps, now made permanent.  Hill is given Third Corps but without Anderson so essentially he has his old Light Division plus two brigades with Heth and Pender as wing commanders.  Trimble is left as Army Reserve directly under Lee.  Wade Hampton is given overall command of the cavalry.

Johnston is left in Mississippi but with only 5,000 of his historic 25,000.  The balance go to Tennessee (10,000) and the Carolinas (10,000).  Bragg is recalled to be Davis’ direct chief of staff before he can do any more harm.

Hardee takes in 10,000 from Johnston and 5,000 more from Mobile while sending 18,000 up the railroad through East Tennessee and the Valley as a new Fourth Corps under Cleburne.  Morgan and Forrest’s cavalry come with him as part of the 18,000.  Wheeler makes Morgan’s raid but only to the Ohio.  He is to return to Confederate lines anywhere from Mississippi to the Cumberland Gap at his convenience.

Beauregard gets 10,000 from Johnston.  He adds that to his and DH Hill’s 25,000 (the original 30,000 less 5,000 already stolen for Lee).  He leaves 6,000 in each of the Carolinas under Polk and Buckner, gambling that the Yankees will do nothing during the high summer fever season, and bring them remaining 23,000 North to Petersburg – Richmond.  There he links up with Davis and Bragg who after reinforcements to Lee have a bit under 10,000 men counting transients and home guards to hold the Confederacy’s heart.

All of this moving takes time, even with Bragg, probably the Confederacy’s best organizer, coordinating things from Richmond.  In the meantime Lee moves North.  In OTL Ewell did a wonderful job of heading the column through the Valley and north towards the Susquehanna.  There is no reason to presume that Stuart would not have done at least as well.  However, even a day or two faster on the march would not get him across.  It would just trigger Couch’s countermeasures a day or two faster.

Hampton would not have tried a messy ride around the Union army.  Lee would have generally known that Meade was moving North in full force perhaps 2-3 days sooner.  I do not see that changing anything.  Heth would have made his shoe raid against cavalry as easily as against militia.  Second Corps could not get south any faster under Stuart than under Ewell.  Ewell would have probably botched divisional command (give him Rodes’ division).  So July 1st ends with Stuart angrily relieving Ewell, Early and Gordon but the Union still holding Cemetery and Culps Hills.

This gets us to the crux of the campaign.  MAJOR DIVERGENCE WARNING.  Lee is still going to insist on an attack over Longstreet’s objections.  However, he is going to have his morning wasted by recriminations from the three relieved Second Corps generals and their supporters.  Everyone will cop attitude, challenge each other to duels, etc.  Lee will have to sort it all out.  Net effect – Longstreet will be given four divisions instead of the historic two.  He will have further vague authority to pull in Hill’s and Trimble’s troops as needed.  No attack en echlon.  No doubling back because ‘spotted’.  Hood will throw his division at and past little Round Top with his outriders (Jenkins Cavalry Brigade) lapping the Baltimore Pike.  Anderson will fill the hole Hood leaves.  Pickett backed by Trimble and 4 random Hill brigades under Pettigrew will be where Anderson was historically.  So 20th Maine will go down under the weight of 2 brigades led by Hood in person.  1st Minnesota will be hit by three divisions under Picket instead of one of Anderson’s brigades.  And just at dusk what were Rodes’ and Early’s divisions now under Mahone and Stewart and both pushed hard by JEB himself will finish the rout.  The Army of the Potomac will come apart.  They will run like rabbits.  However, they will do so Northeast in the general direction of the Susquehanna and Philadelphia.  They will lose half their strength to casualties, prisoners, stragglers and deserters.  The rest will be out of the war until reassembled by Sedgewick after their river crossings.

Lee will have lost 25,000 out of 85,000.  There will be another 20,000 Confederates in the Valley and maybe 30,000 scattered from Petersburg to Fredricksburg.  Davis will now seize the moment.  He will call out the Virginia Home Guard and lead whoever he can find straight at DC. 

Now there were a lot of Yankees around.  Some 20-30,000 in the general Richmond area.  Another 20,000 or so in the DC region.  Maybe 8,000 in Baltimore under Joe Hooker.  Maybe another 8,000 each under French at Fredrick and Crook at Hancock Maryland.  Maybe another 5 – 8,000 in garrisons all over Eastern Maryland and Northeastern Virginia.  Their best regiments and commanders were sent north in the last few weeks to Gettysburg and disaster.  Many of them are near the ends of their enlistments.  No one is precisely in charge.  Officers and men alike are weary of endless defeats.  Lee seems 100 feet tall and the Army of Northern Virginia seems a million men strong.  It is everywhere, advancing on everything at once.

In actual fact Davis has 10-15,000 disorganized men loosely advancing on a hundred mile front.  But he has good subordinates – Cleburne, Forrest, Morgan, Matt Ransom, D.H. Hill – and the initiative.  Each Confederate regiment seems like a corps to the frightened Union garrisons fleeing ahead of them.  From Gettysburg, Lee gives Stuart his corps, Trimble, Robertson and Jenkins to rush Washington.  Hampton’s three brigades are to screen the fleeing Army of the Potomac.  Hill and Imboden are left to police up the battlefield.  Jones gets the joyous task of keeping the wagon road back to Virginia clear of Yankee militia and wandering raiding parties.  Longstreet aided by Mosby and newly risen bands of Maryland Dixiecrats will go for Baltimore and Annapolis.

Hooker’s nerve cracks first.  He flees Baltimore ahead of Mosby (July 6th) pursued by shadows of his own prior failures.  He doesn’t stop until he’s across the Delaware and behind a group of Federal gunboats.  The loss of Baltimore converts the scattered eastern Maryland risings into full-scale rebellion.  This in turn prompts Lincoln to quit the capital rather than stand siege.  The government and much of the garrison gets out, ferried across the Upper Bay by Federal ships.  Lincoln and Siegel die in scattered street fighting (July 8th),  Lincoln because he simply will not get out of harm’s way and Siegel trying to protect him in a fluid situation with a dissolving garrison.  The troops come out as scattered bands intermixed with fleeing herds of federal officeholders, Unionists and contrabands. 

Stuart sweeps up the remains but wisely does not force the issue with too heavy a pursuit once he’s inside the District.  Instead he organizes a victory parade for the newly arrived Jeff Davis, the first American chief executive to take the field since Madison in 1814.  Davis devotes himself to dealing with the European embassies, welcoming Maryland into the Confederacy and basking in the glory of the moment.  Brigade by brigade he strips Beauregard of forces to build up his Presidential Army in the Baltimore – DC area.  This Army will never see combat but comes near to scaring the North to death.

SECOND BREAK WITH OTL – Pemberton has been told to hold out forever if need be.  His starving army has not surrendered on July 4th.  Ten days later (July 14th) Grant is ordered to raise the siege and proceed North to save Pennsylvania.  His first corps (XVth) is in Altoona by August 1st but it’s the end of the month until he concentrates his forces (IXth, XIIIth, XVth, XVIIth and much of XXIIIrd) in front of Harrisburg.  In the meantime Sedgewick has collected the remnants of the Army of the Potomac and pushed them from Philly up to the lower Susquehanna.  Lee has had the summer to organize the reinforcements pouring in as conscripts begin properly reporting for service and deserters respond to an amnesty by returning to the colors.  He has over 100,000 men well fed on looted food and equipped with captured Federal weapons.  The Federal draft has collapsed from massive urban rioting and passive rural resistance.  Hannibal Hamlin, the exVP and new President, is not the man to inspire a new crusade.  Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York declare their neutrality.  Their regiments dissolve.  The war is over.

Now is where Davis gets his chance to shine. (NOTE – this is by no means the historical Davis – it is the one needed to seize this moment). The Southern fire-eaters want a Carthaginian peace.  Davis understands Harrisburg means that the North’s failure is one of will, not means.  Let them off easy and the war stays won.  Push it and Dixie could provide the missing Northern will to reignite the conflict.

West Virginia is given county option on secession and most of its counties stay in the Union.  The Delmarva Peninsula is set aside for the free contrabands that the North doesn’t want and the South rightly makes little effort to re-enslave.  It stays in the Union as the renamed state of Lincoln.  Unionist western Maryland is allowed to join West Virginia.  The Union is to evacuate the Southern coasts, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee.  Tories and blacks within Union lines can freely depart with their Yankee paymasters.  Mountaineer Unionists can leave with their personal property. A Confederate Missouri is carved out of a few border downstate counties.  A Confederate Kentucky is carved out of the far west of the state.  The remainder, including much land of disputed loyalty, is left in the Union.  The only Southern land grab is in the uninhabited southwest where the Confederacy stakes claims to Oklahoma, the Indian Nations, Arizona and New Mexico. 

The Southern repudiation of their prewar debts stands, but no indemnity is demanded of the Yankees.  A postal union is proclaimed as well as free movement of white persons, free trade, free navigation of all the major rivers, and a common railway gauge to allow one intra-continental system.  A joint system of copyright, trademark and patents are promised as well as reciprocal full faith and credit to court judgments that do not pertain to race and slave property.  Missouri and Kentucky will be allowed a second chance in ten years to switch nations as will West Virginia.  Lee and Grant sign the military convention on November 11th, 1863.  Davis and Hamlin sign the political treaty on December 25th with the mutual hopes that the Prince of Peace may prevent further bloodshed.

The South has lost the outer fringes of its territory and many of its valuable slaves.  Northern Virginia has its burned out zones.  However, the vast physical destruction of the last two years of war was been avoided as has the extreme casualties both sides suffered. 

The North is left with debts and defeat but with the vast casualties of 1864 still alive and available to rebuild.  Philadelphia is the logical place for a new capital but New England will not support the expense for the benefit of one of the three ‘traitor’ states.  The ultimate compromise brings the new Capital District to the shores of Lake Michigan as Chicago is given a sister city at what’s now South Bend, Indiana.  The city is named Jackson as he was a Westerner, a Democrat, a successful general and a patriot.  The legal entity of District of Columbia is revived as the South calls their new capital district the District of Dixie.

Grant + Sedgewick beat McClellan + Vlandingham in the election of 1864.  Its an alliance of the victorious Western armies plus New England against the three traitor states, the Copperheads and the border.  Grant keeps a fair sized army including many colored regiments and a very large fleet but he supports the peace.  The Army / Navy combine to support his annexation schemes in Santo Domingo, Nicaragua, Hawaii, Wake, Midway, Palmyra, Johnson Island, French Frigate Reef, Liberia and Congo.  Under him Sherman and Sheridan settle the Plains Indian issue in five years.  However, the reservations are Army run, decent and fair, with large armed Indian forces as auxiliaries and tribal police. 

His pro-peace policy is limited only by his refusal to return runaway slaves.  In the long run this policy will force slavery back on the deep South.  In the short run it makes for many a silly skirmish as overeager slave patrols chase their prey across the over long and poorly marked frontier into waiting Federal ambushes.  It is Bloody Kansas over a continental front but as there is no pretense a national peace being broken, it’s a liveable situation.

Mexico goes essentially as in OTL.  The Union backs Juarez.  France sees that it faces a potentially major war with either of two well armed American nations and decides to cut its losses.  The difference here is that Dixie pressures Juarez into selling them two states – Chihuahua and Sonora – in return for Southern neutrality.  Grant contents himself with buying Baja California.  Both nations build transcontinental railroads.

Davis caps his term with another round of brinkmanship.  He raises a war scare and forces Spain to sell him Cuba and Puerto Rico to counter Grants annexation of Santo Domingo. 

Lee and Cleburne (1867-1872) oversee massive compensated Emancipation in the Outer South financed by silver from Arizona and Sonora.  Outside of reactionary South Carolina and a few black belt plantation zones, slavery rapidly loses ground to Jim Crow, and a mixture of sharecropping and peonage.  Chihuahua, Sonora, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma and Maryland become free states within Dixie – slaves of other Southerners need transit passes to retain their bonded status.

By 1900 they will be joined by Puerto Rico, Cuba, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas.  A few more counties will have joined Kentucky and Missouri but essentially these ‘states’ are war relic rump pieces kept separate for reasons of sentiment, not political logic.

Absent the North South split, both countries grow faster than in OTL.  The North doesn’t have a negative Tory South opposing every internal improvement out of spite.  The South can grow with native capitalists and European money without feeling owned by Wall Street.  NYC is still the financial capital of North America but it must be more kind to a Dixie with its own government and currency.  Neither North nor South will undergo a mammoth deflation as both use a mixture of gold, silver and paper. 

Grant makes two great purchases.  First in addition to Alaska he buys the Aleutians, Far Siberia, Kamchatka, the Kuriles, Sakhalin, Byrutia, Yakutia and Kolyma – making the US the prime power in the North Pacific. The new gold fields in Idaho and Colorado easily pay the small additional price.  The Klondike Gold Strike will later make him a retroactive genius.  Second, he follows behind Davis’ Caribbean coup by buying the Spanish Pacific possessions out to the Philippines while asserting an American claim to Samoa.

He is also lucky.  His landing of 2 brigades of USCT with dependants at the mouth of the Congo in late 1863 seemed an expensive way to dispose of unwanted Negroes at the time.  Over the next eight years a further 100,000 mostly African descended Americans will migrate to their new Congo territory.  The inland frontier leapfrogs as newcomers press ever further into the fertile and relatively lightly settled interior.  Then comes Kassai with gold and diamonds followed by Katanga, one of the mineral treasure chests of the world.  By the time Grant has won his third term in 1872, the tide has overrun equally rich Zambia, taken the rich farmlands of Rhodesia and is pressing on the nominally Portuguese interiors of Mozambique and Angola.  Grant will use the investment boom these land conquests set off to finance a forced purchase from Portugal of both colonies.  This in turn forces a nervous Britain into a partition of South Africa netting Britain Zululand, Natal, SW Africa and Walvis Bay while giving the American African Empire Transvaal and the Orange River Free State.  In turn the Gold discovered on the Rand will give Grant his fourth term. In the meantime the VicePresidency of his old friend Pete Longstreet ( Cleburne – Longstreet , 1873-1878), will aid in continental reconciliation.  The icing on the cake will be Longstreet’s Presidency (Longstreet – Hood, 1879-1884). Instead of the prolonged Nineteenth century depressions of our TL, Dixie will share in the inflationary boom that Grant’s African expansion brings.  An industrial Dixie will get a huge spillover out of the development of North America, the Caribbean, the Pacific and SouthCentral Africa.


Scott Palter

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