I've done a lot of research into (and examination of) the prospect of a war coming out of the Trent Affair over the course of the last few years. My hope is to use this thread to examine my results, get things in order, and to - ideally - work out what scenes to do for a future prose story. For the purposes of this examination, I am making the following assumptions in addition to what can be determined from the historical record: 1) The point of divergence from our world's history takes place during the three-day meeting over Christmas at the White House, at which historically Abraham Lincoln was persuaded to release the prisoners; here, his decision is instead to ask for mediation. 2) This is sufficient for war to be declared by the British cabinet. 3) There are no pre-emptive British plans for military action; all action takes place after the news of the declaration of war. 4) The US cancels planned amphibious operations during the crisis (i.e. Burnside's expedition moving to Fort Monroe), but does not recall their blockade until they are aware of the declaration of war. Points (1) and (2) are there to get a war in the first place, and represent to me a plausible set of reactions. Point (3) is possibly not supported by evidence as Dunlop has mentioned conditional war orders; point (4) is impossible to be sure about, so I have taken the conservative option which exposes the US to less danger. With this in mind, the timetable of events around the declaration of war and the moving of ships is as follows: 1861 27 December: Lyons, the British ambassador in DC, is informed that the Union desires mediation. 28 December: The City of Washington leaves New York carrying the relevant mail. 29 December: Lyons leaves the US via New York on the sloop HMS Rinaldo. 30 December: At this time, events begin to diverge in Canada. The news of the release historically arrived in Canada on the 30th and preparations for war were halted; here, they are not. 1862 5 January: The frigate Immortalite arrives at the Chesapeake and is informed that Lyons has quit the country. She turns for Bermuda, and will effectively provide Adm. Milne a war warning ahead of time. 8 January: City of Washington arrives at Queenstown, Ireland, at 2:20 PM, and the despatches are taken ashore by a government messenger. They travel by train to Dublin, then to Kingstown, and are taken across to Holyhead. 9 January: The dispatches travel by special mail train and arrive in London around 6AM. Telegraphs go out to the members of Cabinet not in London (Duke of Newcastle, Sir Charles Wood, and Gladstone) and the last of the three - Gladstone - arrives late at night on the 9th. This is also when Immortalite reaches Bermuda, having run hard to get there. 10 January: Cabinet meeting. As per point (2) the decision taken is for war. Getting to the Queen (at Osborne on the Isle of Wight) to confirm this takes another several hours, and returning to London is not done until about 5PM. 11 January: Adams (US ambassador) meets with Russell and is informed that war has been declared; he is permitted to leave the United Kingdom in the USS Tuscarora with the embassy. This is also when telegraphic messages begin going out to other locations - for example, Gibraltar (and Dacres' squadron), Malta and India will all learn of the war by telegraph. 12 January: The Europa passes out of telegraphic contact with Queenstown, Ireland. The messages for war, for both parties, are aboard her. This is also when a ship leaves for Bermuda with the war news. 25 January: News of the war arrives at Bermuda, via a special mail ship (average journey speed 9.3 knots) 26 January: The Europa arrives at Halifax late in the evening, and the North American continent finds out war has been declared. 27 January: The mail ship North Star leaves New York for Panama, carrying a war message to the Pacific Squadron. This is also when news of the war reaches St Thomas, which is the base for US operations in the Caribbean - over the next few days the Cadmus (21) and eventually the Diadem (32) - sent down owing to concerns over the nonexistent USS Orlando - will snap up the Quaker City, William G. Anderson, Iroquois and Shepherd Knapp. This is also the day the Sagniaw is caught in Hong Kong by the Imperieuse (the news having arrived that morning from India), and also sees an early attack on Fort Montgomery. 28 January: Milne leaves Bermuda for the Chesapeake in force. 29 January: The news of the war reaches Port Royal and the SABS begins concentrating. They plan to run north - without transports they cannot evacuate the expedition. 30 January: Dacres touches at Bermuda and picks up instructions to attack Port Royal, SC. 1 February: A British mail ship reaches Havana, and finds Dunlop's squadron (less one ship) here instead of at Vera Cruz, having moved here during the period of tension. Dunlop immediately makes for the Gulf Blockading Squadron. 4 February: Milne reaches the Chesapeake, and fights a battle with the USS St Lawrence as he does. 5 February: The North Star reaches Panama. 7 February: Dunlop engages in battle with the Gulf Blockading Squadron. 8 February: The war news arrives in San Francisco - the telegraph has been down for weeks, and the news has come by boat. The telegraph will start working the next day. 9 February: Milne attacks Fort Monroe. Dacres reaches Port Royal. 15th February: Battle of Cape Hatteras as Dacres overhauls the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. This largely covers when people get the information, and how soon they pass it on. I have not covered the situation in the Pacific except for when news arrives there. Scenes to write up include: The Trent affair itself. The discussion in Lincoln's office. The arrival of the news in London. The British cabinet meeting. Various viewpoint characters (e.g. John Tarleton being assigned the Severn, meaning he has to leave his pregnant wife at home; Percy Wyndham heading north to Canada; George McClellan being told he has to find enough troops to invade Canada, and so on.) That being said, I'm also likely to leave some bits as terse (or not so terse) information messages. Any issues with the course of events as laid out, do let me know. I'm trying my best to produce a timetable which represents the likely outcome. My next post will likely be on the movement of ground troops by all sides.