The Golden Circle Timeline (A What-If History)

Harms88

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Location
North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
This is an alternate history timeline. In it, the South wins it's independence in 1863. My goal is to create a running timeline that runs to current times. My goal is to create what I think would be both a fun and a realistic alternate tiemline (as realistic as you can get with counter-factual history).

Such as what goals a southern Confederacy would have had. What their strategic goal was. How they could have realistically maintained their union (pun intended). Mostly, this is about having fun.

1863:

May through Early July

In May 1863, Hooker set off with his massive juggernaut campaign. Lincoln hoped that Hooker would bring him the success that had not been found with his earlier generals of the East. However, on a daring assault, Stonewall Jackson cut the XI Corps in two and captured the US Ford, blocking the escape of the main Army of the Potomac. Although he died as a result of the assault, Lee was able to defeat Hooker's and Sedgwick's forces with the arrival of Longstreet and his men. The Army of the Potomac lost massive casualties, with 18,000 killed or wounded Federals and 16,000 captured men at the May 6 Battle of Bowling Green alone, where Hooker tried breaking out south towards Richmond.

Lee's army also lost massive casualties in the fighting, with his army suffering 50% casualties total. However, with the decimated Army of the Potomac as weak as it was, Lee successfully argued for an invasion of the North before Lincoln could raise more troops to reinforce the thrashed army.

Lincoln, desperate for a general who could turn around the army, whose commander had been captured by the Confederacy, gave command to John Reynolds. As Lee invaded Pennsylvania, Reynolds enacted a scorched early policy that kept the food of the Pennysvlania farms out of the hands of the rebels. On July 1st, Reynolds and Lee clash at Gettysburg in a one day battle, where Lee defeats the AOTP as Reynolds' Corps commanders bungle the battle.

Losses were smaller than what had been lost in the Chancellorsville Campaign, 9,914 for the North and 7,058 for the South.

general-john-reynolds2-640-x-400.jpg


Reynolds was not a beaten man though. Reynolds and Lee clashed again on July 3rd, at Union Mills in Maryland. Reynolds was able to create a strong defensive position and Lee, overconfident, launched a massive attack. Reynolds only lost 4,500 men during the massive battle, but Lee lost a staggering 7,500, the majority from what was calling "Longstreet's Charge".

As the nation rejoiced this victory, the armies took stock. By the end of the two battles, Reynolds only had 40,000 effective in his army while Lee was down to a mere 35,000. But this was all undone on July 4.

Lee, hoping to recover his honor in the face of the disaster at Union Mills, sent Ewell's Second Corps and Stuart's cavalry under the cover of darkness to take Baltimore. Reynolds did not become alerted that they disappeared until he woke up. He was unsure of where Lee was sending his men, but assuming Baltimore was a nice juicy target for Lee, sent the VII and XII Corps (15,000 of his 40,000) to hammer them while the Baltimore garrison acted as the anvil. However, the Baltimore garrison commander had failed to act on the warnings Reynolds sent of a possible attack.

At 4pm Ewell arrived at Baltimore and overran the garrison in less than two hours. Fort McHenry didn't fall but it was cut-off. However, as they were bottled up, Ewell and Stuart were able to trap the VII and XII Corps during a night battle of July 4-5 and destroyed the entire force, taking only 200 casualties himself during the entire fight.

Satisfied with his victory, Lee moved quickly south from Union Mills to besiege Washington. His hope was that the Army of the Potomac was now too weak to pose any real problem to his army. As he moved South, Lee received a letter dated from July 1st from Ambassador John Slidell serving as ambassador to France. In it, Slidell informed him that Napoleon III had informed Slidell he was ready to act on behalf of the Confederacy but demanded three things.

1) A major battle needed to be won on Northern soil.

2) The South had to take a northern city.

3) They had to start arming slaves to prove they were willing to do what was needed to gain independence.

Slidell urged Lee to make a plea to the Congress and sway them to see reason in this regard. Slidell assumed that Lee's word would carry the weight needed to make them see reason and allow the French the ability to enter the war with a clear conscience. They could never in true faith side with a nation that refused to allow their slaves the opportunity to fight for their freedom. Yet if they would, it would show they weren't the dreadful people the populace that were Pro-Northern claimed the Confederacy was.

If Lee planned to or not at that time became a moot point. As he approached the Monocacy River, he ran into the most surprising of resistance. Washington at this time was defended by 55,000 men, most of them Invalids. Maj. General John G. Barnard in a bid to win glory and save Washington marched all 15,000 effectives out of Washington, including the 20th Maine which was sent to Fort Totten at Washington after their smallpox epidemic was resolved.

The Battle of the Monocacy was a fierce but short event. The 20th Maine, being the most veteran regiment gave a good accounting for itself. Yet their greatest contribution to the Northern cause was when Colonel Chamberlain, a little known professor from Maine, shot Lee who handed command over to Longstreet and commanded that he arm the 10,000 slaves of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Chamberlain paid a heavy price for his action though. He and his brother were both shot in the battle and Chamberlain was pushed into the Monocacy River by one of his regimental officers to hide him.

Rocco-Monocacy.jpg


The same day the Battle of the Monocacy disaster was happening, George Armstrong Custer launched a raid into Lexington, Virginia, and burned the Military Academy down to the ground. This was a secret part of Reynolds' plan to fight the south. As the main army fought Lee's army in the broad open fields, Cavalry units, small ones, were infiltrated into the Shenandoah Valley with one goal, disrupt the breadbasket of the South as much as possible. Few knew of this part of the plan.

Custer however took it much further than even Reynolds knew. He kidnapped several of the women from Lexington, including Anna Jackson, the wife of the late Stonewall. His reasons for kidnapping her and the women were plain. Their men were traitors, so they should repay the wrongs of their menfolk, even if the means of repayment meant his raiders could never return to polite society.

la_Raid_In_A_Western_Town_(1862)%2C_by_Thomas_Nast.png


To be continued in Part 2: Mid-summer to Autumn, 1863.
 

Virginia Dave

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Location
Waynesboro, Virginia
This is an alternate history timeline. In it, the South wins it's independence in 1863. My goal is to create a running timeline that runs to current times. My goal is to create what I think would be both a fun and a realistic alternate tiemline (as realistic as you can get with counter-factual history).

Such as what goals a southern Confederacy would have had. What their strategic goal was. How they could have realistically maintained their union (pun intended). Mostly, this is about having fun.

1863:

May through Early July

In May 1863, Hooker set off with his massive juggernaut campaign. Lincoln hoped that Hooker would bring him the success that had not been found with his earlier generals of the East. However, on a daring assault, Stonewall Jackson cut the XI Corps in two and captured the US Ford, blocking the escape of the main Army of the Potomac. Although he died as a result of the assault, Lee was able to defeat Hooker's and Sedgwick's forces with the arrival of Longstreet and his men. The Army of the Potomac lost massive casualties, with 18,000 killed or wounded Federals and 16,000 captured men at the May 6 Battle of Bowling Green alone, where Hooker tried breaking out south towards Richmond.

Lee's army also lost massive casualties in the fighting, with his army suffering 50% casualties total. However, with the decimated Army of the Potomac as weak as it was, Lee successfully argued for an invasion of the North before Lincoln could raise more troops to reinforce the thrashed army.

Lincoln, desperate for a general who could turn around the army, whose commander had been captured by the Confederacy, gave command to John Reynolds. As Lee invaded Pennsylvania, Reynolds enacted a scorched early policy that kept the food of the Pennysvlania farms out of the hands of the rebels. On July 1st, Reynolds and Lee clash at Gettysburg in a one day battle, where Lee defeats the AOTP as Reynolds' Corps commanders bungle the battle.

Losses were smaller than what had been lost in the Chancellorsville Campaign, 9,914 for the North and 7,058 for the South.

View attachment 363357

Reynolds was not a beaten man though. Reynolds and Lee clashed again on July 3rd, at Union Mills in Maryland. Reynolds was able to create a strong defensive position and Lee, overconfident, launched a massive attack. Reynolds only lost 4,500 men during the massive battle, but Lee lost a staggering 7,500, the majority from what was calling "Longstreet's Charge".

As the nation rejoiced this victory, the armies took stock. By the end of the two battles, Reynolds only had 40,000 effective in his army while Lee was down to a mere 35,000. But this was all undone on July 4.

Lee, hoping to recover his honor in the face of the disaster at Union Mills, sent Ewell's Second Corps and Stuart's cavalry under the cover of darkness to take Baltimore. Reynolds did not become alerted that they disappeared until he woke up. He was unsure of where Lee was sending his men, but assuming Baltimore was a nice juicy target for Lee, sent the VII and XII Corps (15,000 of his 40,000) to hammer them while the Baltimore garrison acted as the anvil. However, the Baltimore garrison commander had failed to act on the warnings Reynolds sent of a possible attack.

At 4pm Ewell arrived at Baltimore and overran the garrison in less than two hours. Fort McHenry didn't fall but it was cut-off. However, as they were bottled up, Ewell and Stuart were able to trap the VII and XII Corps during a night battle of July 4-5 and destroyed the entire force, taking only 200 casualties himself during the entire fight.

Satisfied with his victory, Lee moved quickly south from Union Mills to besiege Washington. His hope was that the Army of the Potomac was now too weak to pose any real problem to his army. As he moved South, Lee received a letter dated from July 1st from Ambassador John Slidell serving as ambassador to France. In it, Slidell informed him that Napoleon III had informed Slidell he was ready to act on behalf of the Confederacy but demanded three things.

1) A major battle needed to be won on Northern soil.

2) The South had to take a northern city.

3) They had to start arming slaves to prove they were willing to do what was needed to gain independence.

Slidell urged Lee to make a plea to the Congress and sway them to see reason in this regard. Slidell assumed that Lee's word would carry the weight needed to make them see reason and allow the French the ability to enter the war with a clear conscience. They could never in true faith side with a nation that refused to allow their slaves the opportunity to fight for their freedom. Yet if they would, it would show they weren't the dreadful people the populace that were Pro-Northern claimed the Confederacy was.

If Lee planned to or not at that time became a moot point. As he approached the Monocacy River, he ran into the most surprising of resistance. Washington at this time was defended by 55,000 men, most of them Invalids. Maj. General John G. Barnard in a bid to win glory and save Washington marched all 15,000 effectives out of Washington, including the 20th Maine which was sent to Fort Totten at Washington after their smallpox epidemic was resolved.

The Battle of the Monocacy was a fierce but short event. The 20th Maine, being the most veteran regiment gave a good accounting for itself. Yet their greatest contribution to the Northern cause was when Colonel Chamberlain, a little known professor from Maine, shot Lee who handed command over to Longstreet and commanded that he arm the 10,000 slaves of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Chamberlain paid a heavy price for his action though. He and his brother were both shot in the battle and Chamberlain was pushed into the Monocacy River by one of his regimental officers to hide him.

View attachment 363362

The same day the Battle of the Monocacy disaster was happening, George Armstrong Custer launched a raid into Lexington, Virginia, and burned the Military Academy down to the ground. This was a secret part of Reynolds' plan to fight the south. As the main army fought Lee's army in the broad open fields, Cavalry units, small ones, were infiltrated into the Shenandoah Valley with one goal, disrupt the breadbasket of the South as much as possible. Few knew of this part of the plan.

Custer however took it much further than even Reynolds knew. He kidnapped several of the women from Lexington, including Anna Jackson, the wife of the late Stonewall. His reasons for kidnapping her and the women were plain. Their men were traitors, so they should repay the wrongs of their menfolk, even if the means of repayment meant his raiders could never return to polite society.

View attachment 363363

To be continued in Part 2: Mid-summer to Autumn, 1863.
Looking forward to it. I love good fiction.
 

Harms88

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 13, 2019
Location
North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
July 5 to August 14th, 1863

On July 5th, after his massive victory at Vicksburg, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to the rank of commanding general of all United States Armed Forces. As Halleck was proving ineffective and Reynolds had only won one significant victory against Lee, and that was at Union Mills, Maryland. Lincoln needed someone who was a winner and even though Grant had a rocky resume, he was the only commander winning victories.

On July 9th, Lieutenant James Longstreet, active commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, issued General Order 222. The order stated that the slaves within the Army of Northern Virginia would be trained to fight. On the same day, he began the Siege of Washington City, more commonly known simply as the Siege of Washington. Rumors began to circulate that Braxton Bragg, with the urging of General Patrick Cleburne, would issue a similar order.

Meanwhile in France, two convoys were being prepared to set sail. One would carry the first wave of Imperial reinforcements while the second would send much needed supplies to the Confederates. All they were waiting on was news from America that slaves had indeed been armed.

Ulysses S. Grant and Admiral David Foote have a meeting onboard his flagship, the USS Hartford. Discussions were held on where the French might land a fleet of supplies in the Gulf Region, which at this time only Mobile Bay and Galveston could. Curing this meeting, Foote was given command of all the Union ships in the Gulf Region.

During the Siege of Washington, Reynolds stripped Harper's Ferry of it's garrison and brought up the VIII Corps to fill up the diminished ranks of the Army of the Potomac. He also sent the call for thirty-thousand militia to help him assault Longstreet. However, by his own calculations, it wouldn't be until August 1st before such a force could be assembled. Meanwhile, with General Order 222, Longstreet could now have 32,000 men while Reynolds could only count on 29,000 at that very moment.

However, the Army of Northern Virginia was in no good situation either. Longstreet had not thought through his decision to create the Corpe Afrikia beyond the fact that Lee had asked him to before passing command to him. He had a spotty supply situation and when he decided to give General John Brown Gordon the command of the new African troops, his main reason for promoting him was the fact he was a slave owner. Torrential rains had also fallen upon the region, and many of his men were without coats, shoes or blankets.

pONn0KumklWiKzCCLPyrurrRGy6acqR61NEBW5kJQSGBDGDU-Y.jpg


Robert E. Lee, while he was recuperating from his wound, was spending his time in Baltimore. There, he was meeting with former Baltimore mayor George William Brown, Lieutenant John Merryman and Francis Key Howard. Even though he wasn't a politician, his reputation was such that they grew the backbone needed to start working on a Deceleration of the Separation of Maryland from the United States. On May 16, other pro-secessionist delegates began arriving for a session convention.

During this time, the majority of the Lincoln Administration had evacuated Washington City and transferred to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Abraham Lincoln though, with his noted wit, famously said "The Nation expects it's leader to stay in the place of power. Here the fortunes of our nation rise and fall." He remained in Washington City, refusing to abandon the moral heart of the Union. On the same day, the Confederate Congress ratified a bill that made legal what the Confederate armies were already doing, arming their slaves.

Ulysses S. Grant had a vision for how to end the war. In his mind, they had to put the Confederacy irrevocably on the defensive by September latest. Or else, French military might might just swing the balance fully against the Union. He had a multi-part plan on how to do this.

The first was the a-fore mentioned plan Admiral Foote would pounce on the French supply convoy that was believed to have it's destination be in the Gulf of Mexico. The next involved a movement by Rosecrans and his 70,000 man army to capture Chattanooga and then drive into Georgia. Sherman, with the army that had captured Vicksburg, was to swing behind Joe Johnston and keep him from reinforcing Bragg.

However, Sherman bungled the operation against Johnston. Johnston was at Jackson, Mississippi, but instead of trying to flank around him, he sent McPherson's XVII Corps alone to attack Jackson. Yet due to poorly worded orders, McPherson ended up slowly advancing against Johnston, which allowed him to slip away with only his rearguard having any contact with the advancing Federals.

On July 18th, Longstreet, eager to capture Washington, launched his massive assault to break the city. He wanted to capture the forts intact but his orders had his artillery too far back to be very effective against the Federals. He also wanted to fire a single volley before the attack. A fourth of the troops he wished to use, the Corpe Afrikia weren't ready for the battle, having at best eight days of minor training, as they also had their other duties to attend to.

The plan was so faulty, that Major Taylor, now acting as a member of Longstreet's staff, sent a telegram to Lee in Baltimore asking if the officers should try convincing Longstreet of how poor a plan it was. Lee however agreed that Longstreet should be allowed to try.

Contrary to what should have happened, Stuart and his Cavalry Corp penetrated the defensive works of Washington, capturing Fort Thayer. At the same time, Fort Stevens was overrun by Confederate infantry. Lincoln was watching the battle in the fort. He barely escaped the attack on the fort, only to be captured by Stuart and his cavalry shortly after he arrived at the Executive Mansion. The militia had collapsed before Stuart.

night_attack_at_fort_stevens.jpg


Longstreet was about to pour into the city, but the arrival of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Regiment at the Washington Navy Yards spooked Longstreet so much that he not only abandoned the gains he made, but completely called off the siege, lifting it and retreating towards Baltimore, with President Lincoln and his wife in tow (she having decided to stand beside her husband).

Longstreet's army was in good shape despite the strange plans for the battle. His losses only reached 4,986 while the Federals had lost a little over 2,000.

In his memoirs, Longstreet would defend his decision like this: "At the time, I had no knowledge at just how small the forces were that had arrived in that city. Yet reports from the rear had assured me that the Army of the Potomac had advanced close enough that had I remained longer, many of my men would have been caught between the forts and their troops."

The Army of the Potomac, while moving to indeed trap him, was not close enough to have prevented him holding the city. Many, including Jubal Early, was assured that if he had pushed on, they could have defeated all three forces in turn. However, as Historian Shelby Foote wrote in his Stars in Their Course: The Confederate Invasion, June-November 1863 he wrote: "While it was a great lost opportunity, it is not seemly for historians of the War of Confederate Independence to play 'what-if scenarios'."

This siege of July 9 to July 18 has become one of the most controversial moments of the Confederate War. Obviously, we have noted the retreat from the Washington by Longstreet. Yet the Union side has given multiple variations on why the Defense of Washington was a tactical victory, if not a strategic one. Such as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw of the 54th​ Massachusetts Colored Infantry who wrote after the war that the appearance of the black man as an armed body was the deciding factor, the last-stand of the White House by Lincoln’s guard has also been mythicized into breaking the will of the Confederates. Henry W. Halleck would also claim that it was his quick thinking that was the deciding factor. Either way, no one if quiet certain why Longstreet lost the will to continue the fight or it may never be properly settled.

For several days the Federal Government in Harrisburg was in chaos. At this time, the Federal government had not drafted laws to deal with a Presidency in which the President was captured by a foreign power. However, in the first official Cabinet meeting in the 22nd, it was agreed that Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s Vice President, should take office. Some historians, such as James M. McPherson has given him the nominal title of “The 16 ½ President of the United States”.

hon-hannibal-hamlin-maine-1024.jpg


On the 23rd​, U.S. Grant arrived at Harrisburg where he learned of the capture of President Lincoln.

However, despite the victories in Maryland, it did nothing to bolster the available food in the South. In Richmond, Virginia, bread riots erupted on July 24th​. The riots became so violent, President Davis was forced to have the militia fire into the crowds. No fewer than 16 women were killed and 36 were wounded but some historians believe that this number is far fewer than were actually lost and the count is closer to 200 total killed women. That does not take into account the deaths of 4 soldiers and 12 wounded.

The Davis Family did not escape unscathed. Joseph Davis, son of the President, was killed during the rioting. It is not clear whether he was killed by the rioters or the soldiers. Despite his personal loss, Jefferson Davis was lambasted in Congress and the newspapers for this “most unholy savagery upon the true heroes of the Confederate Cause”.

On July 27th, two events happened. The first was the first meeting of Generals Grant and Reynolds during the war. At this time, Reynolds had complete control over the Eastern portion of the United States and Grant wanted to know what his reasoning behind not only it, but the way he was conducting the war in the Eastern Theater. It was also at this meeting that Grant became aware of the raiding operation of Custer and his Michigan Brigade in the Shenandoah.

The second was the Raid on Lynchburg, Virginia. Custer and his raiders burned the hospital, train and supply depots of the city, shot 27 militia and hanged 3.

CW-Griersons-Raid-1-HT.jpg


Another decision he made during the time that drew criticism came on July 30. President Davis ordered D.H. Hill, commander of the regular Army garrison in Richmond, to march north with all 10,000 of his men to Maryland. In their place, the militia would take over the defense of the city, along with two African-American regiments that were being raised.

In Tennessee, Rosecrans finally began moving south around this time. He was able to confuse Braxton Bragg into being unable to figure out where exactly he was coming from. Braxton Bragg in a fit of aggression and frustration, led an entire Corps of the Army of Tennessee north to try to find where exactly he was coming from, leaving only the Division of Patrick Cleburne and Wheeler’s Cavalry Crops to defend the city. During this same time, the slaves and freedmen in the Army of Tennessee also began training and drilling to act as a reserve for the army in future engagements.

August 5 would find Sherman still at Jackson, Mississippi. He was perfectly fine with stripping the region of everything of value instead of pursuing Johnston with vigor.

On August 9, the French Emperor Napoleon III had received word of the army of slaves by the Confederates. Eager to begin his adventure, he summoned the British Ambassador Lord Cowley to meet with him and ask for his help in fighting the United States on the side of the Confederacy. He was rebuked however. Britain at that moment had no desire to send troops to the New World, where the United States would have 300,000 men to contest them. Also, Napoleon’s Mexican Adventure had shaken the trust of the European Powers that Napoleon III could make sound and logical decisions when it came to military adventures.

On that same day, a world away, Admiral Francois Page, commander of French flotilla of 36 warships protecting French Imperial interests in Asia, was attacked by a Russian fleet of 32 ships. Russia had declared war on France, as Russia was allied with the United States and had been looking for any excuse to avenge themselves of their defeat during the Crimean War.

The Battle of French Cochichina was a Russian victory, but the victory came from the fact that the French fleet was split into three different squadrons of equal size at different locations throughout the region and were unable to converge fast enough to overwhelm the slightly numerically smaller Russian fleet.

Toma_del_Hu%C3%A1scar_-_Somerscales.jpg


It would not be until August 11th​ that news of the Russian Entry into the conflict was learned at the temporary United States capitol at Harrisburg. Few had even foreseen this action, outside of Secretary of State William H. Seward. When Grant, still at Harrisburg asked about it, his response as to why Russia had entered the war was simple.

“They’re our only allies that actually have even cared that much to give us actual help in this war. And they realize they would profit from their helping us.”

One of the great pities of any historian of this time-period is just how little is known of the Franco-Russian War of 1863-1865 in American history. It was strategically decisive in how it kept France from sending more French troops to America and after the Confederate War of Independence ended, how the United States would regain prestige by helping crush the French Empire and divide many of it's Asian Territories with the Russians. The Franco-Russian War will be discussed later in this history.

As these events were happening, the the Army of the Potomac arrived at Westminster, Maryland, and set themselves up on Parr’s Ridge. This location effectively blocked any potential Army of Northern Virginia advance from Baltimore to Harrisburg.

It is to be noted at this time that by August 1863, 700,000 men had been killed or wounded. 300,000 came from the Confederacy and 400,000 from the North. The way Lincoln described it, “Between Reynolds, Grant and Longstreet, they’ll bleed both the North and South dry before this country is reunited.

On August 14th​, Abraham Lincoln and his wife arrived in Richmond under guard. During the first and only time in American history up to that point, an American President met with the leader of a foreign nation during wartime. The meeting has been immortalized in books, movies and artwork but the discussion is said to have been one of the turning points that led to the victory of the South. It was after this meeting that Davis would promote Robert E. Lee, still recovering in Baltimore, to General-in-Chief of all Confederate military forces.

Originally this was going to be indeed from Mid-Summer to August, however, I found that as I was writing, it got a bit too indepth as it was. So, I broke it into smaller segments.
 
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