In 1861, Confederate negotiators James Mason and John Slidell narrowly escape Federal arrest on the British mail packet RMS Trent but unfortunately their steam-powered exo-skeletons fail and Yankee sailors from the USS San Jacinto fish them out of the sea. A cursory inspection of their Dixie-logoed Head bags soon confirmed the sinister nature of their secret mission: to travel to London to seek diplomatic recognition for the Confederacy.
The Mason and Slidell SkankInfuriated by the combination of American disrepect and the humiliation of British technology failure Queen Vic pens an angry letter to Union Prez Abe Lincoln (pictured). Fortunately, Bert the Prince Consort was able to exert a moderating influence and when his missus wasn't watching he made a single character change in the opening sentence of the letter from "p*ssed" to "dissed".
Nevertheless, tensions continued to rise and lighter than air dirigibles were placed on standby in Britain and France. This international crisis soon threatened to escalate the American Civil War into a general conflict between the Steam Club of Great Nations. But after several weeks of tension and loose talk of war, the crisis was resolved when the Lincoln administration released the envoys and disavowed the actions of Charles Wilkes, the Captain of the USS San Jacinto. No formal apology was ever issued. Mason and Slidell resumed their voyage to Britain but failed in their goal of achieving diplomatic recognition. And nine months later at Antietam, Bob Lee's men were overwhelmed by Union soldiers equipped with fully functioning steam-powered exo-skeletons.