|American Civil War|
|Commanders and leaders|
Course of the War
Following the election of Nathaniel P. Banks in November of 1856, South Carolina seceded on January 1, 1857. The states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Texas all secede before Banks is sworn in on March 4. The Confederate States adopted a provisional constitution and government, and decided on Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States, ahead of Robert Toombs and William L. Yancey. Robert Orr was elected Vice President. Then South Carolinians seized the American station at Fort Sumter, and President Nathaniel P. Banks ordered 100,000 troops to quell the rebellion in the South. This caused the states of North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia to secede. The states of Missouri, Maryland, and Kentucky had congressmen in both the Confederate and Union congresses. The Confederate Capital was then moved to Richmond for the remainder of the war.
Following the attack on Fort Sumter and secession of several states, the North gathered an army to invade the South. Similarly, the South gathered an army of its own. The two armies met for the first time at the Battle of Occoquan, which saw the first fighting in the main front of the war. The battle was a major Confederate victory, and allowed the South to recruit many troops. It caused the North to realize that the South had a chance, and for both sides to realize the oncoming bloodiness of the war. The Union troops retreated back to Alexandria. With Maryland acting as a border state, Washington, D.C. was especially at risk. As a result, Union General Winfield Scott proposed beginning the war by ensuring the safety of the capital from militias in Maryland--by occupying Maryland with 5000 troops. In the short run, this caused a major riot in Baltimore, where a shadow secessionist government had been formed. Violence broke out in August in what became known as the Battle of Baltimore, and about 500 of the troops were killed, while over 700 civilians were killed and 1,000 were arrested. This resulted in increased fervor for both sides, and also convinced congress to send an additional 5,000 troops to Maryland. Maryland's secessionist politicians soon all were either captured or fled, and the rebellion was quelled, but the North was unable to be offensive in the Eastern Front until 1858.
Meanwhile, However, the South gathered troops of its own, and focused on strengthening itself. The South, which had become slightly more industialized than in OTL due to increased internal improvements, built a small stockpile of weapons, built new forts, and began attempts at diplomacy with Spain, France, Britain, and even th Union (though negotiations failed). In July, the Battle of Owensboro was a Union victory in Kentucky, and restricted a major prot in Kentucky. However, at the Battle of Hartford, the Confederates in Kentucky successfully stopped the Union troops from capturing the shadow capital at Bowling Green or even the Rough River. In September, following the events in Baltimore, the Confederate troops launched an attack on the Union positions in Alexandria, and at the Battle of Holmes Run the Confederates again advanced and forced the Union retreat to Washington. Also, the Confederates launched an invasion of Nassau in the Bahamas, which was a Union territory that they hoped to gain control of. As a result, the governor of the Bahamas Territory surrendered to the Confederacy. The Confederacy quickly attempted to sell the Bahamas back to Britain, but they declined as they didn't recognize the Confederacy.
Sensing an opportunity to invade the North, general Robert E. Lee got the support of Jefferson Davis to try to capture Baltimore by going around, not through Washington. However, a large part of his method also relied on minor victories throughout Maryland which would allow supporters in Maryland to join the Confederate army. At the Battle of Harper's Ferry, Lee was able to gain control of a key base necessary for this invasion. At the Battle of Frederick, several residents of the town joined the Confederate army during the battle, and served as guerrilla reinforcements who damaged the Union troops, in what became a very large battle. However, at the Battle of Seneca Creek, the Union troops forced a Confederate retreat, though the battle saw much less casualties than the Battle of Frederick.
Meanwhile, the Union was using the Anaconda Plan, which was a stretegy by Winfield Scott to blockade the Confederacy and gain control of the Mississippi River. However, as the Union began blockading cities such as Wilmington, North Carolina and Savannah, Georgia, they increasingly upset European countries which relied on Confederate cotton. Confederate Minister to France John Mason sent a letter back to the Confederacy stating that if the Confederates had a major victory in war, then France would recognize the country. Meanwhile, the Union won the Battle of Grand Bahama, angering the United Kingdom as the Confederacy had offered to sell the Bahamas.
In July 1858, the Union launched another invasion of the Confederacy, however this time, the invasion came from the Peninsula between the James and York rivers. At the Battle of King Creek on July 18th, the Confederate troops stopped a Union invasion on the Peninsula in a very bloody battle, and a week later, the Union forces left the peninsula. However, on the same day, Union forces defeated Confederate forces at the Battle of Clarksburg in Maryland, resulting in July 18th, 1858 becoming the bloodiest day of the war. However, the battles somewhat offset each other in terms of diplomatic relations with Europe, and both invading armies (Southern troops in Maryland and Northern troops on the peninsula) were forced to retreat.
After these retreats, the two sides gathered their armies. The North then invaded Virginia, and this culminated in the very bloody Battle of Manassas, which was arguably the turning point of the war, resulting in a major Confederate victory and Union retreat. A week later, Confederate troops in the West won the Battle of Lexington in Kentucky, allowing them to surround Frankfort, and forcing the unionist government there to surrender. With Kentucky now tipped towards the Confederate side, and the Confederacy having fended off a third Union invasion, Lee was in good position to invade the North. Lee's new strategy was an attempt to invade towards Harrisburg, and from there to march south into Baltimore, gain support for Confederate sympathizers, and capture Washington.
The invasion began in August, and Lee crossed the Maryland-Pennsylvania border in late September. However, they were engaged by an equally massive Union army, and the Battle of Hanover ensued, beginning on October 12th. The Battle ended on October 15th, with the South forced to leave the town, but with greater damage done to the Northern army (in the second deadliest battle of the war). Though the South was unable to get to Harrisburg, the path straight to Baltimore was quite clear, and they began to build up reinforcements so that they could get to Baltimore. However, on October 25th, following the news of the Battle of Hanover, Britain agreed to recognize the Confederacy. They then issued an ultimatum to the Union to either evacuate southern ports, including in the Bahamas, or to face war with Britain. The Union withdrew from the Bahamas, but not from Savannah, Wilmington, or Norfolk. Without declaring war, the British began to send ships to defend the Confederate ports and protect their trade, and they purchased the Bahamas from the Confederacy for $6 million in gold. As a result, the Confederacy was able to finance the rest of their war effort, while the British had a base for their navy. The Anaconda Plan had essentially now ben forfeited.
In December of 1858, France also recognized the Confederacy. They soon sent limited troops to aid the Confederacy. With such recognition, the Confederacy finalized its constitution, making it no longer provisional, and established a Supreme Court. John A. Campbell was nominated as the first chief justice, and the Confederate economy began to boom on trade with Europe and more confidence in its currency.
Nathaniel P. Banks develops a new strategy in the war. Hoping to gain fervor for the Union cause, congress approves of statehood for the Unionist West Virginia. Next, he issues the Emancipation Proclamation, in which according to law, all slaves in the seceded states are free. He also authorizes a large-scale invasion of Kentucky and Tennessee, hoping to cut off part of the Confederate economy. The immediate ramifications help the Union. In Maryland, Unionists free slaves all over the state, and the slaves soon join in rebellion against their masters. Maryland is seen as a deathtrap, and Robert E. Lee withdraws his troops back to Virginia. However, the proclamation also causes France and Britain to send more troops. The foreign troops mainly arrive in Tennessee by going up the Mississippi River and arriving in Memphis. The invasion of Tennessee begins as a success, as the Union army recaptures Frankfort and the Confederate stronghold of Bowling Green, but the Confederate forces, along with foreign support, defeat the Union forces at the Battle of Franklin, the largest battle in the Western Front of the war. The Confederacy completely keeps the Union army out of Tennessee, and fighting continues in Kentucky.
Robert E. Lee then uses a new strategy in an attempt to reach Washington. In June, his army crosses the Potomac in the peninsula of Maryland between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. The place is not very populated, and there is an easy path to Annapolis. With British naval help and French reinforcements, the Confederate troops march north, and win the Battle of Annapolis on August 29th. They then continue North, where on October 19th, they win they conquer Baltimore. Though they had been experiencing some losses in Missouri, Spain recognizes the Confederacy following their victory in Baltimore.
On January 26th, a British merchant ship heading for the Confederacy is sunk by Union ships. This sparks outrage in Britain, and some call for a full-scale invasion of the United States. Instead, they head to the negotiating table with the United States, and send more troops. However, the Union sees increased victories in Kentucky and Missouri, despite the Confederate success on the main front of the war. However, the Union refuses to join any peace talks with the Confederacy in the Providence Conference in March. Talks fall through, and the Confederacy convinces Britain to blockade Northern ports. After the Battle of Boston Harbor in May, the North finally agrees to negotiate with the South.
The sides all meet in Wilmington, Delaware. Eventually, the sides agree to the Treaty of Wilmington. The Confederacy is recognized as an independent nation by the United States. West Virginia is given the right to decide which country to join base on referendum. However, Kentucky becomes Confederate land, and Missouri becomes Union land. In the West, the Confederacy is given all land south of the Missouri Compromise line, up until the already established border of California. The United States agrees to recognize the British purchase of the Bahamas. However, the Confederacy agrees to grant the United States access to the Mississippi River, though it can charge a small fee for boats using the river. Maryland remains a member of the Union, as does the District of Columbia. The treaty is signed on June 5, but the Confederate Congress approves in on June 18th, and the American cngress approves it on June 25th.