British whatif

steve59p

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One can't know how a war will play out. The US could build a fleet of very heavily armored Monitor class craft that could cause havoc to the RN.
We do know that when Lincoln put his foot down on the British sale of Laird Ram' s to
the Confederacy the UK government did back down.
Leftyhunter
They could have built some but those would have had relatively little impact on the blockade, although they would have made attacks on US ports more difficult. Even then however it would be a case of them being located in the ports their built in, which would have to occur before those ports were successfully attacked as they were very much brown water boats in the most part. As such Britain could concentrate a force to overwhelm any single point while the US forces would be find it a lot more difficult to link up.
 

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leftyhunter

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They could have built some but those would have had relatively little impact on the blockade, although they would have made attacks on US ports more difficult. Even then however it would be a case of them being located in the ports their built in, which would have to occur before those ports were successfully attacked as they were very much brown water boats in the most part. As such Britain could concentrate a force to overwhelm any single point while the US forces would be find it a lot more difficult to link up.
Of course by the same token the USN could of built submersible craft such has the French "Alligator" under license or just used stolen plans smuggled from France to Canada to the US. All we do know is per the Laird Ram Affair the UK was really not looking to start a war with the US.
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WJC

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I know there were persistent rumours that Napoelon III wanted to do so but he's the only major figure as far as I'm aware and Britain is supposed to have talked him out of it.
My understanding is that France was willing to support the rebel cause, but only if Britain would as well. I've not heard of any British effort to "talk him out of it": it was simply that except for the Trent Affair, Britain had no interest in intervening.
 

WJC

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One can't know how a war will play out. The US could build a fleet of very heavily armored Monitor class craft that could cause havoc to the RN.
Certainly, wars are filled with surprises, unforeseen twists and unintended consequences. But the RN was a powerful seagoing Navy, while the US had an inferior seagoing fleet. Any major shipbuilding program would most likely have not readied any sizeable additions to the US fleet to change the equation. Certainly, Monitors were effective close to shore, but their low freeboard ruled out their usefulness in deep water and rough conditions.
 

leftyhunter

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Certainly, wars are filled with surprises, unforeseen twists and unintended consequences. But the RN was a powerful seagoing Navy, while the US had an inferior seagoing fleet. Any major shipbuilding program would most likely have not readied any sizeable additions to the US fleet to change the equation. Certainly, Monitors were effective close to shore, but their low freeboard ruled out their usefulness in deep water and rough conditions.
True enough. I was thinking of a semi modern conflict where the RN was on paper the strongest navy in the world but still took some heavy unexpected losses. The US could build commerce raiders on the West Coast and raid British commerce shipping in Asia. Hypothetical wars are a slippery slope at best.
All we really know if neither the US or the UK after two major war's in 80 odd year's was not interested in a third round either due to the Trent or Laird Ram Affair.
Leftyhunter
 
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Pudnhead

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Well the key thing was Lincoln backed down but otherwise there would have been war. As others have pointed out it was that fundamental an issue for Britain, the protection of its shipping.
interesting history of blockades here. Trying to put Britain's response within the context of this history let's say of the southern blockade. At about the same time as the Battle of the Alamo, the U.S. supported the French blockade of Mexico. This is interesting because we might question whether this was in keeping with the Monroe Doctrine. Now after the Civil War was over, the U.S. warned France essentially saying they should get out of Mexico--based on the Monroe Doctrine. Let's step back a moment and ask ourselves had the southern blockade been lifted due to British action what then would the French have done? Is it possible that the British would not have done anything to the blockade itself but would have preferred a ground attack? Whatever, the point here is that would the French presence influence any action to remove the blockade or to find any asset in the blockade having been removed? I don't know. I tend to think that the French would most likely expect to hold their interests to Mexico or south. It had to be disconcerting to the French to discover the U.S. no longer would support there presence there. I think what we are seeing is that with Lincoln and those after him the Monroe Doctrine is finally coming into full play. But it remains a very difficult question to answer what would have happened had the British attacked our blockade. Of course, if the blockade had been destroyed the Confederate government might have taken it as a sign of Union weakness of the Union; as a consequence, they might not have joined back with the union and placed their hopes more so with the British. then we might have had WW I in the 19th century instead of the 20th century.
 

steve59p

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interesting history of blockades here. Trying to put Britain's response within the context of this history let's say of the southern blockade. At about the same time as the Battle of the Alamo, the U.S. supported the French blockade of Mexico. This is interesting because we might question whether this was in keeping with the Monroe Doctrine. Now after the Civil War was over, the U.S. warned France essentially saying they should get out of Mexico--based on the Monroe Doctrine. Let's step back a moment and ask ourselves had the southern blockade been lifted due to British action what then would the French have done? Is it possible that the British would not have done anything to the blockade itself but would have preferred a ground attack? Whatever, the point here is that would the French presence influence any action to remove the blockade or to find any asset in the blockade having been removed? I don't know. I tend to think that the French would most likely expect to hold their interests to Mexico or south. It had to be disconcerting to the French to discover the U.S. no longer would support there presence there. I think what we are seeing is that with Lincoln and those after him the Monroe Doctrine is finally coming into full play. But it remains a very difficult question to answer what would have happened had the British attacked our blockade. Of course, if the blockade had been destroyed the Confederate government might have taken it as a sign of Union weakness of the Union; as a consequence, they might not have joined back with the union and placed their hopes more so with the British. then we might have had WW I in the 19th century instead of the 20th century.
Pudnhead

If there was a war there would definitely be an attack on the USN ships on the southern blockade. Neither the British government nor the navy with be happy with leaving the bulk of the current USN, small although it would have been compared to the RN, left alone to possibly return home if it could or provide a source for commercial raiders. They would also have wanted to remove the US base in the Keys, forget its name for the moment, for a similar reason.

Not quite sure what you mean by Britain preferring a ground attack to removing the US blockade?

Removing the union blockade of the south would have been a big boost to the south, albeit indirect but there was little chance of it making up with the north as it was intent on obtaining its independence - that was what the entire war was about after all - and the south has received a huge boost in this by the war between the north and the UK.

Also not sure what your talking about as having a WWI in the 19thC rather than OTL as there's no real chance of this in the 1860's and doubtful of it occurring later in the century I suspect. Unless there are some pretty spectacular butterflies in Europe, which isn't impossible.

I found your post a little unclear but think I'm understanding what your saying in most cases. Was confused by when you mentioned a blockade whether you meant the union one or the British one but if I understand you correctly in this post your generally referring to the union one? Also unclear what you meant by French interest in the south. May I suggest you split such posts into paragraphs please as that also helps makes things a but clear.

Steve
 

steve59p

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True enough. I was thinking of a semi modern conflict where the RN was on paper the strongest navy in the world but still took some heavy unexpected losses. The US could build commerce raiders on the West Coast and raid British commerce shipping in Asia. Hypothetical wars are a slippery slope at best.
All we really know if neither the US or the UK after two major wats in 80 odd year's was not interested in a third round either due to the Trent or Laird Ram Affair.
Leftyhunter
Very true that, although some people like Seward sounded off rather neither side wanted a war. :smile:

There are definite chances of the RN seeing some shocks especially as desperation is a good incentive for developing new ideas.

Commerce raiders from the west coast could be a problem but I think artillery is in fairly short supply and also if the war lasts more than a couple of months you might see British forces from India/Australia turning up off San Francisco. :wink: However if they can sort out a problem in terms of guns until its shut down at source the west coast could be a problem simply because its long enough for raiders to find shelter to restock and with the bulk of the RN in the Atlantic and the size of the Pacific there would be a lot of potential targets and convoying probably wouldn't be practical there other than a few important routes.
 

steve59p

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Of course by the same token the USN could of built submersible craft such has the French "Alligator" under license or just used stolen plans smuggled from France to Canada to the US. All we do know is per the Laird Ram Affair the UK was really not looking to start a war with the US.
Leftyhunter
Leftyhunter

That could be a problem although how reliable would such a design be in practice? The south tried a primitive submersible but I believe it cost them a lot of lives trying to get something working and I don't think the technology was up to it there? Had a brief look at the Wiki entry for it and it might have had a use in port defence but does seem rather marginal. Its hand powered by either paddle wheels or a screw system and depends on a couple of tubes supported by floats to supply air, i.e. a passive system so I suspect that wouldn't be practical for long. Believe that at the least you would see a CO2 build up as its heavier than oxygen while I wonder if the floats would give away the location or be vulnerable in any bad weather to being flooded.

However as I said elsewhere I think there is a strong incentive for military innovation but the US will face serious logistical and technological problems in such an operation. Also reading the article of course as a submarine it needs a fair amount of deep water to hide in so would be less useful in shallow waters in harbours.

Steve
 

Pudnhead

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Not quite sure what you mean by Britain preferring a ground attack to removing the US blockade?
If the British were to have responded in order to either make a point or a distraction, attacking the union blockade (yes I have been referring to the Union blockade unless otherwise stated) it would appear that the British were aligning themselves with the Confederacy; however, mobilization of ground troops might appear more defensive, or less indicative of aligning with the South but still making a point and definitely needed if they thought we might invade Canada. I say distraction because for me and my research I sense the likelihood that there might have been some non military arrangement between Britain and the Confederacy that required the Confederacy to seek further clarification. So they sent diplomats. Tis clarification might have been nothing more than some details on blockade running.
 

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I would imagine that the northern war machine would get ramped up quicker. Threaten Toronto and Montreal, and the Brits might be the ones asking for peace.

Lincoln could call for a general draft, using British intervention as the reason. Do this well, and the northern Democrats lose the 62 mid-terms.
 

Pudnhead

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it was intent on obtaining its independence - that was what the entire war was about after all
Independence for the South. Yes, that was what secession and creating their own constitution does indicate. But I have to ask how true or sincere an objective this was for all the Confederate leaders involved. I mean is it possible that anyone or more of them might have benefited from the state of war itself or some state more akin to anarchy. The timing of the period of secessions is uncanny. The South waits until the national election results have completed. My understanding is that the South was not only upset about Lincoln having won but that the South also lost its majority of persuasion in the Congress. I have heard that this was the first time since the founding of the country that this had occurred. To me this seems so minor and not a solid foundation for secession. Previously any threat of secession had coincided with an act that Congress was trying to enforce as in the Nullification event. Secession immediately following the national election without the new Congress having taken office yet seems terribly immature to me. So I have to ask if there weren't some other cause, design, or objective in mind at least by part of the party of men who fomented the aspirations to secede. When we start getting answers to that, we begin to see a whole new picture that in some ways trumps the notion that all they wanted was an independence that would allow them to practice slavery and also (this is a kicker) allow persons born outside the United States up until 1845 to become president--this would have included Judah P Benjamin and his 1st cousin Yowell--the only 2 U.S. senators sitting at the time born outside the United States other than 1 other senator from the north born in England. Both Benjamin and Yowell were born in the Islands. Anyway, the total legalization of slavery as a constitutional right was the other consequence of the new constitution, but the institution of slavery existing in the southern states was not under threat by any act of Congress when the secession process began. Now this brings up another point. The new constitution has the awful consequence of legalizing slavery to a degree that would make all men and women subject. It would no longer be restricted to those already in bondage.
If Jefferson Davis's statement that he believed Lincoln did not truly mean what Lincoln said in his speech declaring such a consequence (the complete legalization of slavery throughout the U.S. regardless of race, creed, or color) of the chain of legal actions that had occurred extending from the Kansas-Nebraska Act to the Dred Scott Decision, then Davis was completely wrong in supporting the new constitution simply on the basis of his ability to understand what has been written and what he supported. Why would he do and say such a thing? Was he in some other kind of bind that we don't know? Was Davis's real role something we haven't really understood such as doing what he could to prevent Judah Benjamin from becoming president of the confederacy in order to prevent the country from definitely making an allegiance with a foreign country? Was our country really that close to such a disaster?
Now let's ask ourselves if something short of winning the war would allow for some of the leaders of the confederacy to benefit from the consequences of war or a condition closer to anarchy than had been present particularly in the south? So far we've discussed the military concerns and to degree economic consequences mostly in the light of manufactured goods or cotton. But what of food supply? I mean what foreign countries would benefit from the United States as a whole united entity breaking into 2 separate nations? Instead of asking this question in light of cotton exports and manufactured goods, perhaps we should look at a different aspect such as food supply--after all, in the end it becomes the pivotal cause of Robert E Lee signing the Appomatox papers. His troops were not able to get the nourishment and food supplies necessary to survive and fight. This was due specifically to the destruction of crops in Sherman's march from Atlanta to Savannah. But what countries in Europe were highly engaged in the shipping and commerce of food supplies with the U.S.? today the Mississippi River is the busiest river in the world. We think this is natural because it's watershed covers such a huge area and production of grains in the plain states makes for the majority of New Orleans exports. That's today. At the time of the Civil War, New Orleans was importing huge amounts of food such as oranges from the Mediterranean states. Tomatoes, oranges, other transportable produce was shipped directly to New Orleans. This was a vital export for those Mediterranean states--it kept the people satisfied and away from revolution. It was also a huge profit for those who took advantage of it in New Orleans. To such New Olean folks, the remainder of the south outside Louisiana were simply competitors whom they felt weren't "completely akin" to their way of thinking anyway. At the time of the Civil War, New Orleans' population was approximately equivalent to the next 6 most populous cities in the South combined--about 168,000. New Orleans was huge in comparison to any other southern city. Not only this, but its roots were highly French. The American citrus industry wouldn't replace the importation of citrus from the Mediterranean states until into the 20th century. What did we have then--WWI.
 

Pudnhead

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Also not sure what your talking about as having a WWI in the 19thC rather than OTL as there's no real chance of this in the 1860's and doubtful of it occurring later in the century I suspect. Unless there are some pretty spectacular butterflies in Europe, which isn't impossible.
When I first mentioned WWI, I was actually thinking comparatively speaking; in that case, the United States or Union as we have been calling it would go all out as in a World War that we should think is suggested by the notion of a "World" War. Interesting also at the end of my last reply to you, I ended with another realization that might suggest an additional root cause of the actual WWI that we did experience. So that brings up a whole new notion as to what degree did the influence of food supply play not only in creating the Civil War but also WWI. In the 1st half of the 19th century, Europe was at a saturation point with land and inhabitants. They were completely locked into the demand for a greater food supply, the export of food in order to develop as Britain had, or as a consequence of the lack there of--revolution. this occurred throughout Europe (least of all in Britain) in the 19th century and later we see it in Asia as well. The demand for food and the balance of the populous between industry and agriculture. Thanks for your questions.
 

WJC

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the institution of slavery existing in the southern states was not under threat by any act of Congress when the secession process began.
It may be clear to us that the election of Lincoln did not threaten slavery where it then existed. But many at the time thought differently. Perception became more powerful than reality.

 

Pudnhead

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It may be clear to us that the election of Lincoln did not threaten slavery where it then existed. But many at the time thought differently. Perception became more powerful than reality.
It does seem so. But persuasion had to occur. A diarist I am familiar with recorded at the time that "the world seems without moral" or something to that effect. I assume she was responding to either persuasion by the media or reports of marches and maybe riotous behavior. I kind of think that many of the southern believers in slavery as an institution to evolve well into the future became exceptionally hopeful with the like of the Kansas Nebraska act and the Dred Scott Decision that they became opportunistic of the moment and used the election of Lincoln and of course the change of majority in Congress from pro slavery to non slavery as a cause for secession. But leadership played the major role. they are most if not entirely responsible. so here enters the arts of persuasion--was the war in part initially buffeted by elements who really didn't care about the outcome so much as they cared about getting something out of a war? Or similarly, did some individuals expect to lose the war and so always had a plan to benefit from a war. Or worse yet, is it possible the war was devised over many years in hopes of gaining some benefit that would only occur if some certain things happened during the course of the war--victory not necessarily being one of them?
 

steve59p

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I would imagine that the northern war machine would get ramped up quicker. Threaten Toronto and Montreal, and the Brits might be the ones asking for peace.

Lincoln could call for a general draft, using British intervention as the reason. Do this well, and the northern Democrats lose the 62 mid-terms.
He could try but given the economic impact of a war with Britain and the blockade presuming more men came forward where would he find guns and other equipment for them? There was be a considerable problem keeping equipped the men already in service, let along the extra demands war with Britain would prompt.

To really threaten either Toronto or Montreal you would need to get close to them and that could well be beyond the capacity of the union army in such a conflict.

As it is he's likely to lose those men who were volunteers from Britain and Canada as well as the blockade greatly reducing future immigration and hence that supply of potential new recruits.
 

steve59p

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When I first mentioned WWI, I was actually thinking comparatively speaking; in that case, the United States or Union as we have been calling it would go all out as in a World War that we should think is suggested by the notion of a "World" War. Interesting also at the end of my last reply to you, I ended with another realization that might suggest an additional root cause of the actual WWI that we did experience. So that brings up a whole new notion as to what degree did the influence of food supply play not only in creating the Civil War but also WWI. In the 1st half of the 19th century, Europe was at a saturation point with land and inhabitants. They were completely locked into the demand for a greater food supply, the export of food in order to develop as Britain had, or as a consequence of the lack there of--revolution. this occurred throughout Europe (least of all in Britain) in the 19th century and later we see it in Asia as well. The demand for food and the balance of the populous between industry and agriculture. Thanks for your questions.
As Europe industrialised it did depend more greatly on foreign supplies of food. Even a traditionally agricultural and large state such as France. Demand for food and other raw materials was part of the incentive for the rise of imperialism. The US and Russia had a big advantage here as they had the opportunity for overland expansion which they were able to keep. However there were other options than N American although especially with events in Russia it proved to be the major source for much of the following century.
 

steve59p

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If the British were to have responded in order to either make a point or a distraction, attacking the union blockade (yes I have been referring to the Union blockade unless otherwise stated) it would appear that the British were aligning themselves with the Confederacy; however, mobilization of ground troops might appear more defensive, or less indicative of aligning with the South but still making a point and definitely needed if they thought we might invade Canada. I say distraction because for me and my research I sense the likelihood that there might have been some non military arrangement between Britain and the Confederacy that required the Confederacy to seek further clarification. So they sent diplomats. Tis clarification might have been nothing more than some details on blockade running.
Not an expert in the field but never heard of such and everything I've read the two envoys were simply that, with one intended for London and the other for Paris.

As I said if war came Britain would definitely want to destroy as much of the union navy as possible to prevent it being a possible future threat. Doing this would be easiest while it was still scattered on blockade duty.
 

Pudnhead

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Not an expert in the field but never heard of such and everything I've read the two envoys were simply that, with one intended for London and the other for Paris.

As I said if war came Britain would definitely want to destroy as much of the union navy as possible to prevent it being a possible future threat. Doing this would be easiest while it was still scattered on blockade duty.
I wonder how much of a surprise attack they could have organized. I would think we had our spies and with telegraph available through ports I believe we would have organized quite well. Fortunately the British didn't attempt a military offensive. The Union was always apprehensive to some extent about the war and many folks in the north had many relatives in the south. Even a war with Britain many Americans would be apprehensive about. Their is a kinship involved and a sense of patriotism. As far as diplomacy goes, I think we have to consider the nature of the changes in the constitution that the Confederacy adopted. Those changes were against the grain and trend of that age. So were there some leaders dreaming that they could create a separate nation with slavery completely legal and become the idol that all the Mediterranean states and eventually the central and South American states would worship. Quite a big step in the opposite direction. Do you think the British tried to counsel the diplomats against such a notion or do you believe the British might try to take advantage of it? Had we gone to war over the Trent Affair then I would think that Britain was trying to take advantage of them. Yet, that does not mean that they didn't try to take advantage of them anyway.
 

steve59p

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I wonder how much of a surprise attack they could have organized. I would think we had our spies and with telegraph available through ports I believe we would have organized quite well. Fortunately the British didn't attempt a military offensive. The Union was always apprehensive to some extent about the war and many folks in the north had many relatives in the south. Even a war with Britain many Americans would be apprehensive about. Their is a kinship involved and a sense of patriotism. As far as diplomacy goes, I think we have to consider the nature of the changes in the constitution that the Confederacy adopted. Those changes were against the grain and trend of that age. So were there some leaders dreaming that they could create a separate nation with slavery completely legal and become the idol that all the Mediterranean states and eventually the central and South American states would worship. Quite a big step in the opposite direction. Do you think the British tried to counsel the diplomats against such a notion or do you believe the British might try to take advantage of it? Had we gone to war over the Trent Affair then I would think that Britain was trying to take advantage of them. Yet, that does not mean that they didn't try to take advantage of them anyway.

Pudnhead

A number of points here.
a) The 2nd point in the Trent Affair that nearly ended in a war was that Lincoln seems to have misunderstood that Britain was serious about its ultimatium and took some persuading that refusing it would lead to war rather than further negotiations. As such, even if the US had any spies in the UK and had the ability to report news to the union - there being no trans-Atlantic telegraph at the time the danger for the US would be that their leader might not believe the actual threat. Also a lot of the force blockading the south was in the Gulf of Mexico and had no way of knowing that if the deadline expired the RN forces already in position would be attacking them.

b) There were kinship relationships between the three people's [British/Canadian, Union and Confederates] and also a fair number of British and Canadians who has settled in the north or more recently volunteered for the war against the south because they viewed it as a war against slavery. However that didn't prevent the civil war or tension between the union and Britain and civil wars are often very bitter,

c) What do you mean by "become the idol that all the Mediterranean states"? I presume you don't mean the actual sea between Europe and Africa, although several of the Muslim states on its southern shores were still heavily involved in slavery at this point. If you mean the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico, which might also get that name I don't think there are many areas in the region still favouring slavery - Spain in some of its colonies and Brazil some way to the south - and many that deeply opposed it.

d) If you mean communications between the Confederate delegate who eventually arrived in London after being released I can't see any way with public opinion in Britain and its involvement in suppressing slavery that they would encourage any support for slavery, let alone its expansion.

Steve
 


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