Trent war - possible timeline of events, battles, and outcome

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Something else that occurs to me is actually whether the Union is going to try and commission privateers.

This is distinct from "would it be a good idea" - for international relations it would not be, and the number of guns available might not make it all that practical for there to be large numbers of them, not when the guns could go to coastal defence. But historically the Union threatened to commission privateers later in the war, and so I feel it should at least be raised as an issue.
 

steve59p

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 21, 2016
Something else that occurs to me is actually whether the Union is going to try and commission privateers.

This is distinct from "would it be a good idea" - for international relations it would not be, and the number of guns available might not make it all that practical for there to be large numbers of them, not when the guns could go to coastal defence. But historically the Union threatened to commission privateers later in the war, and so I feel it should at least be raised as an issue.

Well privateers would need artillery and as you say that would need to be drawn from military sources, most likely coastal defences. Given that coastal defences seem to be vulnerable anyway to the RN it might seem an attractive idea to some elements, especially those safe from coastal assaults and/or eager to 'fight back'. However its likely to cause rumptions from any location the government orders to give up defensive guns. Plus as you say it would further isolate the union internationally since privateers are pretty much banned by international treaty.

Also, while they would do damage would they be that efficient, or even attractive to potential captains? If they can't sell prizes, other than any they can bring to a US port, which would be difficult on the east coast given the tightening blockade, its going to be a job with no fiscal return, which is likely to dampen the allure of such an idea for many. Let alone if they face possible arrest in any non-union port, let alone possibly being hung as pirates. [Although I suspect Britain may be reluctant to go that far for political reasons its a potential threat].

Steve
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The potential (perceived) benefit is that it would provide commerce raiding capability and mobilize some of the US shipping that's currently in harbour unable to make money in the conventional manner. It's also in keeping with the US's vision of how they would hurt Britain in a war.

The costs, of course, are manifold. It would alienate almost everyone in the world because the US had promised to abide by the Paris Declaration (which forbids privateers) - thus demonstrating that the US ignores treaties whenever it feels like it - it'd be almost useless (because so many neutral ports were closed to prizes thanks to US diplomacy) and it'd involve the use of scarce guns (though 24 pounders would probably have been available).

It's just that it's something the US was planning, so I thought I'd have to at least bring it up even if only to say why they wouldn't.
 

chelyabinsk

Private
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
The potential (perceived) benefit is that it would provide commerce raiding capability and mobilize some of the US shipping that's currently in harbour unable to make money in the conventional manner. It's also in keeping with the US's vision of how they would hurt Britain in a war.

The costs, of course, are manifold. It would alienate almost everyone in the world because the US had promised to abide by the Paris Declaration (which forbids privateers) - thus demonstrating that the US ignores treaties whenever it feels like it - it'd be almost useless (because so many neutral ports were closed to prizes thanks to US diplomacy) and it'd involve the use of scarce guns (though 24 pounders would probably have been available).
Another advantage of commissioning privateers would be outsourcing the problem of organising commerce raiding. But the Navy department has been geared up to organise a blockade that no longer exists, and so has extra administrative capacity to deal with surveying merchant ships, purchasing and converting them (probably a lot cheaper than they bought ships for blockade duty, given the changing circumstances), and selecting and commissioning officers. Volunteer commissions, which I don't believe were available in 1812, provide a new way of mobilising the civilian sector which gives a greater degree of control over the whole process than issuing letters of marque. In fact, they don't really want private individuals rushing off to foundries and ordering guns, or trying to equip ships with muskets and powder, because it complicates the overall position wherein all these commodities are now incredibly valuable. Factor in the diplomatic ramifications, and I can't see them going for it.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Indeed; it's tempting and something talked about a lot in the US press of the time, but I don't think they'd actually do it for all the stated reasons.


Something I also happen to have noticed, quite by chance, is that the 2/16th is in Napier's brigade as part of the main Montreal defences (though the 1/16th is in Russell's brigade and is slated to not be among the reinforcements from the Quebec defences). This means that the 16th (Bedfordshire) foot AKA "Peacemakers" might actually earn a battle honour, something they historically managed to avoid doing until 1895 (making them the only regiment in the army to lack one during the historical Childers reforms).
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
I'd check the reb cavalry. Some of those regiments are formed a bit later. The Va cavalry formed:

1st Va - July 61
2nd Va - May 61 (as 30th Mounted Inf), renamed cavalry in October 61 (as remained very much a mounted infantry unit that dismounted to fight by fire)
3rd Va - July 61 (numbered 2nd until October)
4th Va - Sept 61
5th Va - July 61 (not to be confused with the later 5th Va Cav) and after 12 months coys were reassigned to the 14th and 16th Va Cav Bn
6th Va - Nov 61
7th Va - May 61 (mixed Maryland/ Virginia unit not numbered until early 1862, known as "Ashby's Regiment" before this) and grew to 29 coys by May 62, when it became a brigade with the 12th Va Cav and 17th Va Cav Bn splitting off
8th Va - early 1862. Formed from various mounted infantry coys in the Kanawha valley
9th Va - numbered as such in January 62 but raised as "Lee's Legion" with 8 cavalry coys in November 61
10th Va - formed May 62 by addition of 3 coys to the 7 cavalry coys of the Wise Legion Cav (formed April-May 61)
11th Va
12th Va - June 62 by splitting the 7th Va Cav
Others post mid-62

I doubt the 14th Va Cavalry would have formed, and the expansion that created the 17th Va Cav Bn hasn't quite happened (7th Va is about a double regiment at this point).

Burrough's Bn is still part of the (old) 5th Va Cav in this timeframe.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I'll admit I was using shorthand for the 12th and 17th, because the companies making them up existed at that point (or would conceivably have done so, as McClellan hasn't been able to commit to getting Jackson out of Harpers Ferry); it looks like the questionable ones are probably the 10th VA (which would still be the Wise Legion cav) and the 14th VA.

On the other hand, I could also be a bit more careful about tracking down cav from the other states (like the 2nd NC Cav which I believe existed at this time, and possibly 3rd NC and 2nd SC - perhaps I'd have to make a Carolinas brigade of cavalry under Hampton.)
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Had another go at making up the CS cavalry:



Hampton's Bde ("Carolina Brigade")
1st SC
Hampton Legion Cav
3rd BN, SC
1st NC
(2nd NC?)
3rd NC

F Lee's Bde
1st VA
3rd VA
4th VA
6th VA

WHF Lee's Bde
9th VA
10th VA
11th VA
Cobb Legion
JD Legion

Robertson's or Ashby's Bde
2nd VA
5th VA
7th VA
12th VA


I make that about 16-18 regiments' worth of cav.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
The 2nd NC Cavalry spent their early time patrolling the mountains in the west of the state to suppress rebels.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I'm having a surprising amount of trouble identifying the stations on the rail line from Plattsburgh north into Canada.
It's for a map...
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
Here's an fun sidebar to a possible Trent War: the fear of Canadian "black Confederates". Yes, it was far-fetched, but I've found a number of stories referencing black men in Canada being called to arms in late 1861 and early 1862, with the papers citing the irony of escaped slaves fighting for England against the Union, and thus indirectly aiding the Confederates. The "Trent War" never happened and so neither did this, but the possibility was speculated on in print at the time.

The Manitowoc pilot. [volume] (Manitowoc, Wis.) 1859-1932, January 24, 1862
6jfz0su-jpg.jpg
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Here's an fun sidebar to a possible Trent War: the fear of Canadian "black Confederates". Yes, it was far-fetched, but I've found a number of stories referencing black men in Canada being called to arms in late 1861 and early 1862, with the papers citing the irony of escaped slaves fighting for England against the Union, and thus indirectly aiding the Confederates. The "Trent War" never happened and so neither did this, but the possibility actually appeared in print at the time.

It's not like it would even be particularly surprising, since as far as I'm aware the British didn't have the same legal restriction the Union had at the time on black men serving in the army or militia - though calling them "Black Confederates" is kind of an insult, given that the Union effectively provoked this particular war themselves (and that the British view of the North was that they were insufficiently anti-slavery).

The idea that if you happen to be fighting the Union you therefore count as supporting the Confederacy is a common meme down to today, and we can see it had started at the time, but there's no actual truth to it. It's not as if the US of 1812 was fighting to defend the power of an absolute Imperial monarch when they went to war with Britain, though they could if anything be accused of it more fairly than someone on the British side in a Trent war could be accused of being pro-Confederate.
 

steve59p

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 21, 2016
That would do it, yes.
Blimey. Suppose they could just stop the trains wherever and unload there, albeit at reduced efficiency.

I suspect that the problems would be equipment and supplies rather than front line forces, as they could disembark pretty much under their own steam, whereas supplies would be unpacked and stored and transported to where their needed as the army moves away from the rail line. Plus it would depend, if the area was pretty lowly populated, as it rather sounds like, how much space there would be for forces and supplies to unload. If there are some farmlands say, while the farmers will be unhappy there is space but if its fairly solid forest beyond the track getting men, let alone equipment off and organising them could be a problem.

Its a good reminder how limited population and facilities even in eastern parts of N America in this period.
 

steve59p

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 21, 2016
It's not like it would even be particularly surprising, since as far as I'm aware the British didn't have the same legal restriction the Union had at the time on black men serving in the army or militia - though calling them "Black Confederates" is kind of an insult, given that the Union effectively provoked this particular war themselves (and that the British view of the North was that they were insufficiently anti-slavery).

The idea that if you happen to be fighting the Union you therefore count as supporting the Confederacy is a common meme down to today, and we can see it had started at the time, but there's no actual truth to it. It's not as if the US of 1812 was fighting to defend the power of an absolute Imperial monarch when they went to war with Britain, though they could if anything be accused of it more fairly than someone on the British side in a Trent war could be accused of being pro-Confederate.

Very true, plus at this time, while some Americans have helped the slaves escape the north is still technically a slave holding state.

Not to mention its very unlikely to see those blacks fighting any union forces unless its in defence of their new homeland against invading Americans.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
This is the current state of the map I'm doing:


GCACW_Montreal_mountains.jpg



It's pretty close to done, though not quite.

Colours represent terrain (blue is water, light blue is creeks, green is forest, brown mountains, yellow hills), black lines are roads, orange lines railways. Red hexagons mark forts.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Indeed, there was the coloured militia regiment (The Coloured Corps, enlisted ca. 1,000 Canadians of African descent) embodied in 1837 and it was the last one to demobilise, in 1850! ITTL multiple battalions of the Coloured Corps might be raised, but they would be mixed in with other units as per British practice.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I don't believe I've specifically noted them in my ORBAT, but perhaps I should - or just have them among the semi-anonymous militia units.
 

steve59p

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 21, 2016
This is the current state of the map I'm doing:


View attachment 379110


It's pretty close to done, though not quite.

Colours represent terrain (blue is water, light blue is creeks, green is forest, brown mountains, yellow hills), black lines are roads, orange lines railways. Red hexagons mark forts.

Very informative thanks. That's actually more open than I thought it was although still a fair number of creeks/rivers and a few hills and forests to restrict maneuvers. Not sure how good the roads would be but the railways are likely to be very important.

Which makes me think could either side seek to insert small forces behind the lines to attack railways? Even a bit of damaged track, if it derailed a train some way from support could pose a problem before it could be cleared. Or the threat of that could mean a number of detachments tied down patrolling the tracks.
 
Top