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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

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July 21

In 1861, in the first large battle of the Civil War, Confederate Armies under recently promoted Major General Ulysses S. Grant split the Union Armies under the command of Major General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg.

Grant wins at Gettysburg
By Timothy McFadden
In this, the first major clash of organized armies, Lee had appeared to be on the verge of victory after the second day, smashing the Confederate Army of the East under Lieutenant General Dan Sickles. It was Grant's last minute appearance with the Confederate Army of the West, striking Lee's rear early on the third day, that reversed the battle, capturing or killing more than half of the Union Army and their French Allies. Only a last minute stand by General "Stonewall" Jackson's Virginia Division gave the remains of the routed Union Army the chance to escape to the south.

Confederate President John C. Fremont declared the victory "proof of our iron determination to defend human freedom". US President Jefferson Davis declared "Our sacred union shall not be sundered by northern money men determined to infringe on our rights of property. States rights do not now, nor have they ever, included the right to separate from the Union".

BACKGROUND

The 1856 attack by pro-slavery vigilantes on Lawrence, Kansas, and the subsequent beating of Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the senate, while other senators were held at bay by gunpoint, had already brought the First Republic close to Civil War. In an attempt to stop a wave of pro-slavery terror in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, Senator Stephen Douglas and his peacekeeper faction joined with southern senators to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: the Respect for Property amendment. Patterned on laws passed by the pro-slavery Kansas Legislature and in states such as Virginia, the amendment forbade agitating against slavery in speech or print as encouraging Servile Insurrection.

Reaction in New England, the East and the Midwest was loud and violent, with anti-slave catcher militias formed in several states while the new Republican Party under General John C. Fremont had as it's central plank the repeal of the 13th Amendment. The expedited admission of Kansas, Missouri, California and Nebraska as slave states alienated even the peacekeeper faction of Douglas, who repudiated his support. Matters finally came to a head in 1860 when the Republican presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln, was shot and killed during a campaign speech in Maryland.

A new story by Timothy McFaddenAt his inauguration, President Jefferson Davis called for unity and peace between the states but also threatened harsh retaliation against anyone who tried to divide the Union. The threats were ignored as Committees of Secession in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Delaware convened in Boston. On February 22,1861, these states joined by Pennsylvania, the New England states, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana declared the formation of the Confederate States of America, with it's capitol in New York City and it's first president, John C. Fremont.

Reaction by President Davis was swift, nationalizing the militia of all loyal states and calling for a million man army for a duration of two years. He also authorized the arrest of thousands of those deemed "Copperheads" for suspicion of being disloyal or anti-slavery. Such arrests included leaders of the "Neutralist" factions in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Confused fighting in Maryland and Kentucky kept those states in the Union, while the northern tip of Virginia split off to become the Confederate State of Mohawk.

In the Winter Mountain War, Union forces under General George B. McClellan were stopped in a bloody defeat at the new state capitol of Charlotte by Ohio Militia General U.S. Grant commanding a mixed force of volunteers from various states. After that, in the east, both sides pulled back to recruit and organize their armies. In the west, confused fighting continued as Union raiders struck deep into Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Deprived of it's industrial heart, the cash-strapped United States secured massive loans from France, England and Spain, as well as several regiments of troops from France. Claims that such loans would keep the US in debt to Europe in perpetuity were derided as treasonous. The perpetual manpower shortage that would dog the Union throughout the war was immediately felt, as slave-holding loyalist states insisted on keeping much of their militia at home to guard against slave insurrection. Nonetheless, the first rush of volunteers enabled the Union to form an army of 100,000 men west of Washington.

Union overall strategy was the "Anaconda" plan, formed by General Winfield Scott, shortly before his death from a stroke. Initial mutinies and desertion by most US Navy ships to the Confederate side made a naval blockade impossible at first, while President Davis continually pushed for a drive through Pennsylvania to split the Confederacy. Major General Robert E. Lee, the new commander of the Army, repeatedly stalled, telling Davis that his army lacked organization, uniforms, training and everything else needful to form an army.

The Confederate Armies had initially been hampered by the lack of professional Army officers, who mostly stayed loyal to the Union. The initial confederate armies were forced to rely on political appointees, disgraced and retired army officers or amateur soldiers like Dan Sickles, Don Carlos Buell, Joshua Chamberlain and Ulysses S. Grant.

This process began to reverse as President Davis, despite protests from Lee, Johnson and other senior officers, blacklisted northern officers who had remained loyal. Shut out of higher command, senior officers like Reynolds, Sedgewick, Burnsides and Hooker returned to their home states. As latecomers, Fremont appointed them to subordinate positions, causing Burnsides and others to resign their commissions and leave military service entirely or to take command of state militias.

By June, Davis had exhausted his patience and informed Lee that if he would not take the army north, Davis would find a commander who would. Initially, Lee encountered great success with the two wings of his army commanded by Jackson and Johnson. A shattering victory by Lee in two days of fighting north of Gettysburg routed the Union Army of the East, capturing General Dan Sickles and killing General Joseph Hooker. However, in the process, Lee's army was scattered among the hills of Pennsylvania.

It was at this point that Grant, leading 20,000 men detached from the Union Army of the West, struck Lee's army from the rear after a forced march. As Grant said afterwards "Both our armies were green as grass. Green troops have, in my experience, been fierce as lions in the attack, while in retreat they almost always panic and rout. I therefore concluded that my only option was to attack, attack and attack again". Although outnumbered, his attack split the Union forces and captured most of the Union Army's dear-bought artillery.

His pursuit of the fleeing southern army was stopped by the stand of Stonewall Jackson, although Grant said afterwards that he had no intention of pursuing past that point.

Subsequent trends of the war only came in after Gettysburg- the increasing technological focus of the Confederate Armies, the freeing and arming of escaped slaves and the "War for Freedom" concept, and the growing "Second Republic" movement that the Confederacy should not simply secede from the Union, but supplant it.






© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.