Ad blocker interference detected!
Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers
Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.
|French Trafalgar, British Waterloo|
|Nations and Geopolitics|
|People, Culture and Other|
The Prussian Aggression War (1831-1832)
Although the Prussian effort to crush Poland quickly was a resounding success, as the nation surrendered after a month, their attempts to win against the French (via Operation Westschlag) by invading through Austria-Hungary was considered a failure, as Italian reinforcements held back the Prussian armies.
Despite attempts by the Royal Navy to blockade France, the British attempts to fight France at sea were met with no greater success than Prussia on land. The only major battle at sea was the Battle of the English Channel, which was inconclusive, with both sides claiming victory, but not changing the tactical or strategic situation in any way. Both nations battled each other mostly at sea for most of the war, although a small British army fought with Prussia on the continent. However, no plans had been made for an invasion of Britain by the French.
A counterattack planned by Marshal Michel Ney in the winter finally pushed the Prussian forces out of Austria-Hungary. At the same time, Russian forces attacked Sweden (a Prussian ally) and eventually entered Prussian territory in both East and West. The defeat forced Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm III to abdicate the Hohenzollern Throne on 7 January, and he retired to Switzerland. Britain agreed to an armistice two weeks later, with neither side truly winning the war at sea, and Britain seeing no further reason to continue fighting.In the Treaty of Vienna, Prussia was forced to surrender the city of Kiel and the small North Sea Coast that she owned to the Confederation of the Rhine. The area north of Krakow was ceded to Austria-Hungary. Poland was re-established, with additional land from Prussia. Russia gained Königsberg, as well a part of Northern Sweden. Great Britain was forced to give Jamaica to France, although they managed to gain in return the French rights to the Suez Canal, and France paid an indemnity of one million francs.
Return to Peace, and the Great Panic (1832-1839)
With the French and its allies and "associates" victorious, and Prussia humbled, a new Golden Age of French Imperialism dawned. When the oppressed people of Greece rose up against the Ottoman Empire in 1832, Napoleon II sent arms and a fleet to aid the rebels, who were victorious, and proclaimed a government that readily became an "associate" of the French Empire. Within the next few years, new colonies were settled in Africa, such as the Congo River Entrance (1833), further expansion in Mauritania (1834-35), and the beginning of the Colony of Angola/Namibia (1837-38). Railroads, first tested in Britain, were embraced by Napoleon II as a cheap and efficient way to link the Empire. A massive railroad building program, under George Stephenson (who left the UK after his plans for a railroad-linked England were balked at), was initiated in 1835, and by 1845, Paris was linked with Lyons, Marseilles, Strasbourg, Brussels, Essen, Turin, Rome and, in one of the greatest engineering projects of this era, Zurich. The birth of the new Prince of Normandy, Philip Joseph, in 1836, brought relief to the French Empire, as the House of Bonaparte would continue to rule the nation.Unfortunately, the "Boom Times" ended in France in 1839, when the supply of capital was severely curtailed due to the bankruptcy of many businesses, including one of the major shipping companies in the Empire. It was the start of the Great Panic of 1839. Although the economy didn't completely collapse, after Napoleon II ordered the banks to begin lending again, the faith in the Franc and the French Economy were severely shaken, a faith that would take several years to restore. The death of Michel Ney in 1840, the hero of the First Great European War and the Prussian Expansion War, threw the already struggling nation into mourning, further compounding problems.
In Britain, the general mood could be something close to shock and humiliation. The 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister since 1830, barely held onto his position. He moved quickly, and pushed the First Navy Modernization Act through Parliament in 1832, followed by the Army Expansion Act and the Second Navy Modernization Act in 1833. In 1835, the Royal Navy launched the first steam warship, the HMS Atlantic, a small "steam frigate" which immediately outdated sailing ships, though neither England or France realized it at the time as the Atlantic's engine exploded in 1837, sinking the ship. King William IV passed away in 1837, and was succeeded by his daughter Victoria. The Great Panic of 1839 did not severely affect the UK, as London was still one of the largest trading cities in the world.
The defeat of the Prussian armies forced Kaiser Frederich William to abdicate the throne, and travel to exile in Switzerland. He was replaced by his son, Frederich William IV, under whom the Prussian state underwent a massive reforming period. As he was not a military man, the army was not the focus of the state. Instead, work on infrastructure and the economy took the majority of his time. The Great Panic of 1839 gave the Prussian economy the chance to expand, filling in the gap left by the contraction of the French Imperial economy.
The victory of the Italian armies in the Second Great European War impressed Napoleon II greatly, and when the people of Italy petitioned the French Emperor for full independence, it was immediately granted on July 17, 1833. Italy was granted rule under the returned House of Savoy, who, although exiled since 1798 when their territories were annexed by France, were allowed to return. Carlo Alberto Amedeo di Savoia, at the age of 35, was crowned Charles Albert of Italy. The Great Panic of 1839 did affect the economy somewhat, but mostly in the northern, mostly industrialized area.
Austria-Hungary was slower rebounding from the conflict, because the vast majority of the fighting took place here. However, the industries established in Bohemia and Moravia soon began to produce again, and the economic recovery soon began moving at full speed ahead after the ascension of Ferdinand I in 1835, but was brought to a crashing halt in the Great Panic of 1839.
Russia and the Ottoman Empire continued to face each other over the Black Sea, as Ottoman modernization efforts increased, though with more support from France than Prussia and Britain, as Napoleon II was nervous of expanding Russian power. In 1832, the Janissaries were finally disbanded, a move that allowed Mahmud II to reform the military along the lines of the European model, with brigades, regiments, corps and divisions. The Sultan appointed his successor, Abdul Mejid, the first Grand Marshal of the Ottoman Empire, starting a new tradition. Also, the promised moves to grant the other nationalities of the Ottoman Empire greater freedom and a say in Government were pushed through in 1836, in the First Great Firman, and the first Parliament of Nationalities was established, composed of three members of every region, of which only two could be Turkish at most.
The Russian Peasant's Revolt (1839)
Russia, having won a little land at almost no cost in the Prussian Expansion War, began to believe that Russian armies would be victorious whenever they engaged an enemy, even Imperial France, the superpower of the west. However, one enemy that Russia never expected to fight was itself.
Causes of the Revolt
Although the serfs had been free for over twenty years, in reality, their lot had not improved. The nobles still owned the land, and forced the farmers who lived in it to pay almost as much as they would have if they remained serfs. Those who would not take it anymore left for the cities, as the new factories demanded more workers. However, with the flood of former farmers, the factories began to pay less and less, while at the same time food prices sky rocketed due to the lower production.
When Czar Nicholas I learned of this situation, he tried to push through land reform in 1834, hoping to be able to quell a possible peasant uprising, which not only could lay waste to the noblemen's land (which the majority could not see), but could cause immense damage in the cities as well. However, the noblemen successfully blocked the efforts, believing that the aim was to weaken their power (which the czar had privately claimed would be an "...unfortunate, but welcome, side effect").
The "Beginning of the End"The powder keg that set it off was a peaceful protest organized in St Petersburg, near the royal White Palace. Due to the Great Panic, many factories had to cut hours and pay and some had to lay off hundreds of workers, reducing many families to begging in the streets. Over 25,000 poor workers and farmers were marching in favor of land reform on March 17, 1839, when one army regiment, commanded by a nobleman (whose name has been lost to time), ordered the soldiers under his command to fire upon the protesters. The White Palace Massacre, as it was known, resulted in the death of 76 people, and 287 more were injured. The protesters panicked, with most running away, but some furious marchers began to resist, one cobblestone actually killing the nobleman commander.
The result of the Massacre was a full scale resurrection in the countryside. Many of the nobles who opposed the Land Reform of 1834 were brutally killed, while their wives and daughters were viciously violated, and the sons were killed. The noblemen who survived fled the country, most fleeing to Prussia, Britain or Austria-Hungary. The farmers and peasants began to form bands to loot and pillage the countryside. Traveling through the land was seen as impossible without armed guards, as unsuspecting travelers, either peasant or noble, were either robbed or outright killed. Factories in the cities were burnt out, as were some of the houses of the rich owners and nobles. By April 29, the army had managed to put down the insurrection in the cities, firmly, but without enormous bloodshed, although anarchy still gripped the countryside. It was only until September that the last raider bands were put down.
During the entire crisis, Czar Nicholas I tried to figure out how to deal with these "...bandits and rebels and poor peasants." It was decided that mercy, as well as a firm hand were to be used. The majority of the peasants were granted amnesty, while the rest were either fined or imprisoned. Only three, out of all the millions of peasants that had revolted, were executed: the leaders of the notorious Ukrainian Liberation Army, which had massacred the entire town of Vilshnay because they did not agree to come under their "protection."
This only dealt with the consequences of the revolt, so the next item was to deal with the causes. The Czar and his ministers met with leaders of the peasants to hear their cases, which they expected would help them in deciding the path the nation had to take. 527 men and women went to the "Peasant's Commune," and told their stories of suffering, hardship and starvation. Several times, the ministers and even the Czar himself were moved to tears, and action was taken immediately.The first Russian People's Congress was held in Moscow, convened by Prime Minister Mikhail Speransky, and soon began the process of establishing the Empire of the Russians. The Empire would be a constitutional monarchy, although the Czar would still hold strong powers. The Duma, formed by 350 members that came from all classes (peasants, middle class and nobles) was convened. Some of the first acts of this Duma involved land, monetary, army and administrative reform, with the majority of the reforms lifting enormous burdens from the poor, who soon thrived.
American Prosperity and Restlessness (1839-1846)
With the expansion of American industry after the short war in Europe, the United States began to emerge as a regional power. The alliance with France was cemented in the Treaty of Nantes, and the US soon became one of the largest trading partners of the French Empire and its allies, providing them with resources and finished goods at lower prices than the British or the Prussians in return for military training, as the US was still reeling from the defeat of the First American War. Democratic President John C. Calhoun was narrowly defeated by William Henry Harrison, a National Republican, in the election of 1836, and was re-elected in 1840.
The Crash of 1839 was not as severe in America, where the growing home market filled in the gap of European trade, but still caused some damage, with many workers being laid off and factories shut down in 1840. One of those unemployed men, James Finley, shocked the nation by shooting President Harrison on June 3, 1841, only a few months into his second term. His Vice President, Daniel Webster, immediately took the oath of office (as he was in the crowd), and became the ninth President of the United States and the first Vice President to assume the office of President. He immediately began the process of implementing the policies he and the late Harrison were campaigning on: the supremacy of Congress over the Presidency, and a program of economic modernization and expansion.
However, Congress was soon dominated by the supporters of Manifest Destiny, the so-called Manifests. The dreams of stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific and to the Arctic was too irresistible for these men, and, with the alliance of France to counter any British threat, they felt confident that they could reach out and grab those various lands, with little to no consequences.
The first of these "American Conquests" as writer and politician Samuel Clemens had put it later (he was born in 1835), was Spanish Florida, bought from Spain in 1834, although the local natives had to be violently suppressed in the Everglades Insurrection from 1835 to 1842.
The next step was the development of States in the Remainder Louisiana Territory and other territories gained since. The first were Indiana and Michigan in 1837, Mississippi (composed of OTL Mississippi and the Western half of Alabama; the Eastern half joining Georgia) and Louisiana in 1840, Arkansas (North of Louisina, which also includes part of Eastern Oklahoma) in 1841, Wisconsin in 1842, and Missouri in 1843, bringing the total number of US states to 26. The third step, however was one of the most controversial: the declaration of war on the Mexican Empire.
The Mexican Empire had made large strides since its inception in 1832. However, it was currently in the throes of an American-supported Texan Revolt. Led by Prime Minister/General Santa Anna, the Mexican Army besieged the El Álamo Mission in San Antonio, which was held by Texian patriots, who were protesting against Santa Anna's dictatorial policies. Led by James Bowie and William B. Travis, the 200 defenders of El Álamo managed to hold off the 1,500-strong Mexican Army for over two weeks, until a determined assault scaled the walls of the mission and massacred every man inside.
President Webster, pushed on by Congress, issued an ultimatum to Mexico, demanding them to allow Texan Independence, and to withdraw from said land. Santa Anna didn't even reply, not believing the Americans would be daft enough to declare war on his battle hardened army over some "misguided, so called patriots". He was wrong. On April 16, 1846, Emperor Agustín de Iturbide of Mexico was told that a state of war existed between the US and his Empire.
The War of the Southwest
Although the Mexican army managed to hold back the Americans for a few weeks after war was declared, they were driven back by forces lead by General Zachary Taylor. A long retreat followed, during which time Sam Houston aligned his force of freedom fighters with the Americans, and, in discussions with General Taylor, agreed to become part of the Union after the war.
After the announcement that war had broken out between the United States and Mexico, citizens of the area known as OTL California, many of them American settlers originally in search of gold, decided the time was right to free themselves from the dictatorial rule of General Santa Anna. On June 17, they announced the creation of the Pacific Republic, and proclaimed Yerba Buena as their capital. After the Mexican garrisons were overthrown, the rest of the area, stretching from the tip of Baja California to the British-owned territory of Oregon, proclaimed their support for the government in Yerba Buena, renamed San Francisco after the war.
Emperor Agustín ordered Santa Anna to agree to an armistice proposal after the loss of California and Texas, as American forces were pushing through the Rio Grande. However, Santa Anna disobeyed the orders, and overthrew the Emperor when he returned to Ciudad de México, proclaiming himself acting president of a Provisional Republic of Mexico. Agustín managed to escape and reached American lines, where he managed to reach an agreement to restore the Mexican Empire and exile Santa Anna to the Caribbean Confederation after the signature of the peace treaty. With an American Army, Texan liberators and Loyalist Mexican forces besieging the capital, and with the so called "Republic" proclaiming its support to the Emperor, Anna was finally forced to concede defeat. He was exiled to Haiti in 1847, where he committed suicide in 1849, bitter over his treatment by his nation.
Aftermath of the War
Although the American armies had soundly defeated Mexico to win Texas, and helped to free the Pacific Republic, the war was seen as a war of aggression, basically "... the New World's Prussia ..." as Samuel Clemens later wrote. And with it came the expansion of slavery into Texas, Florida and the southern fraction of the Louisiana Remainder, which the majority of people in the Northern, more industrialized states opposed, but the southern states promoted, wanting to expand it westwards.
The defeat of the Mexican armies in battle, without the enormous casualties expected (overall, of the 25,000 strong US Army, only 2% died in battle and 5% were wounded, but 15% died of disease) convinced the majority of the Manifests that the army created with French help after the humiliation of the First American War was now strong enough to be able to stand up to the number one enemy of America: the United Kingdom.
In Europe, when news of the invasion of Mexico were first announced, Emperor Napoleon II was shocked, especially because he had not been forewarned. The UK was even more disturbed by the news, as this almost ensured that their holdings in North America would be next, against an army that had proved itself (although against a minor nation with a weaker army, which nobody seemed to realize). Almost immediately, Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel decided to send four regiments to Canada, to hold positions to secure the Northern Colonies, while new overtures to the Natives in the region was meet with open arms, and the Indian Confederacy was formed, composed of representatives from almost every tribe in the western region, centered in the colony of Fort Garry, now home to a majority white population.
Asian Expansion and Modernization (1838-1841)
The Japanese, having been one of the first Asian people to meet an European embassy in centuries, finally began a minor program of modernization in 1838. Although it was considered a first step to being able to rival the Europeans, the Shogunate tried their best to slow, delay or even halt the modernization attempts, as it was (rightly) believed that the plan would erode their power, and, possibly, destroy it. The accession of Emperor Kōmei in 1846 made the Shogunate realize that Kōmei was going to aggressively pursue the modernization of Japan, and, if need be, destroy the shoguns, so they tried to mount a coup to secretly do away with the Emperor. However, the Chrysanthemum Plot was doomed, by the simple fact that the ordinary soldiers, trained since childhood to obey the Emperor, refused to execute the Shoguns' orders to arrest Kōmei, and instead arrested the plotters, who were simply executed, and, in the ultimate humility, had their bodies dumped in Tokyo Bay. The Modernization of Japan was now unopposed, and soon, with help from such people as Alfred Krupp, soon Japan was about to embark on an imperialistic crusade.
The Ambassador's War (1841)
Even though the Chinese Empire had received reports of the Prussian Expansion War and the Mexican-American War, they still refused to believe that the Western powers were superior to them. However, when the Chinese refused to conduct anymore trade with the Europeans (mostly due to depleting resources of silver and the Great Panic of 1839), the French and British decided that it was time to prove the Chinese wrong.
They were given an excuse on November 7, 1840, when the British Consul in Shanghai was robbed, and knocked unconscious. The British demanded that China apologize for the incident, but the envoy was rebuffed, and was told to "...mind your own business". When the French Ambassador tried to intervene on November 15, he was promptly arrested by the Palace guard for trespassing. It was the final straw. The two European enemies decided to work together, and teach China a lesson. War was declared on December 3, 1840.In March of 1841, a French fleet under the commanded of Admiral Louis Phillipe anchored outside of Fuzhou, while another arrived to the island of Formosa, while a British Fleet, commanded by Rear-Admiral Harold Frenway appeared near the cities of Hong Kong and Zhanjing. The display of arms did not move the Emperor, who remained defiant. So, in the morning of April 4, Royal Marines and French Imperial Troupes de Marine landed ashore the cities, while the fleets nearby began a punishing naval bombardment. One shot from the HMS Valiant crashed into a small cafe in Hong Kong, knocking over the lit stove and provoking a fire that soon began to spread through the docks and towards the center of the island, forcing both locals and the Royal Marines to flee the spreading flames. Elsewhere, the defenders were quickly overrun, and, by sundown, the Union Jack fluttered over Zhanjing, while the Tricolore was raised over Taipei and Fuzhou.
In Nanjing, the Emperor was stunned, and soon ordered the Chinese Army to deal with these new threats. The Battle of Guangzhou was perhaps the greatest turning point in the modernization of Asia, as a massive, 130,000 strong Chinese army was held back by only 32,000 British soldiers under the command of Lord FitzRoy Somerset. It was perhaps one of the greatest glories of the British Army, and the ultimate humiliation of the Chinese Empire. However, the Chinese did not surrender until a joint Anglo-French army did an amphibious landing east of Beijing, and the subsequent battle, which resulted in a triumphal march of the Europeans through the Forbidden City.
On June 6, 1841, an armistice was agreed to, and the Treaty of Hanoi was signed on August 15, 1841. Formosa became part of the the French Empire, and the UK received Hong Kong and Zhanjing. China, finally realizing that the Europeans, although still "barbarians", were technologically advanced "barbarians", opened up their markets to European goods and accepted the services of several military officers to train the Chinese armies in modern tactics and weapons, although progress was slow due to the Chinese feeling of superiority, only slightly diminished since their defeat in the Ambassadors War.
The Years of Tension (1841-1846)
Despite the best efforts to try to smooth over ancient rivalries, the nations of Europe still greatly distrusted each other. France and Britain were prime examples of this. Although the two had worked together during the Ambassador's War, almost immediately after the two began to retrench and snipe at each other over some little grievance or another. The two continued to try to find new allies and cement older ones. France and her Imperial associates joined together in the Marseilles Pact in 1843. The United States became an unofficial member of the alliance in 1846 due to the increasing resurgence of British Imperialism in Canada, hoping their alliance with the French would give them the strength and the chance to stand up against the British threat.
Britain and Prussia, realizing the threat that the Marseilles Pact posed, recreated the North Sea Pact that had existed before the Prussian Expansion War, and had quietly been done away with, forming the United Coalition in 1846, with the original members being Britain, Prussia and the Ottoman Empire, which had finally completed the majority of the modernization that was planned over twenty years before. Later, Spain would enter the alliance, and began to strengthen her borders with France.
France, in the mean time, initiated the Third Imperial Plan in 1847. While similar to the previous versions, the new plan had an increased focus on the expansion of mines, factories, armories, fortresses and barracks. This was later nicknamed the "Le Plan du Général" (The General's Plan) due to the increased military spending and expansion.
African ColonialismAlthough France had a huge lead in 1845, Great Britain, Spain and Portugal were trying their best to build on overseas empire to rival the French. Great Britain, from their bases in Kenya, moved north-west into the Horn of Africa and established the Colony of the Horn in 1848, while the Colony of Yemen was founded the next year. Portugal expanded its colony in Mozambique, and Spain established a colony north of Mauritania, which they called Desierto Occidental, Spanish for "Western Desert." Another Spanish colony, called Tierra del Bantu, was established between Nigeria and the Congo River Entrance, out of outposts formerly belonging to Portugal. The British established a colony between Mauritania and the Volta River Colony, which was called Sierra Leone, and was originally intended as a place where former slaves of the British Empire (who had been freed in 1819, after intense pressure of Abolitionists in England) could live in.
Major efforts in eliminating the slave trade and, ultimately, slavery itself were carried, with the British stopping over 1000 slave ships of all nationalities leaving British-controlled ports, and freeing over 150,000 potential slaves. France, Portugal and other nations also took measures to stop the slave trade, and in 1835, the UK fully banned slavery in the empire, followed a year later by France and other nations.
The Race for India and the "Prince's Migration"
Although the major powers had a few enclaves in the Indian subcontinent since the 1700's, in 1838, the British operated East India Company made the enormous step of trying to unite all of India under their control. When France realized this, they also attempted to do the same through the chartered Imperial Indian Company. In both cases, local alliances, trade deals and, sometimes, outright military force and annexation were used to dominate India. France was mostly dominant around Mumbai and Calcutta, as well as mostly Islamic Karachi, resulting in the Imperial Indian Company controlling the entire western half of the subcontinent. Great Britain was about as successful, controlling virtually the eastern half of India thanks to the Treaty of Calcutta, with the vast majority of the Indian princes who signed the document vassals and servants of the east India Company in all but name. Many of them were encouraged by the Colonial Office to immigrate to British colonies in Africa. This not only provoked the collapse of the leadership of any potential nationalist movements (which were starting to emerge in Europe at this time, and Britain, rightfully, believed it would spread to India), but also helped settle the major colonies in Africa. Soon, the population of colonies such as Kenya and South Africa doubled with the rapid influx of Indian princes speaking English and in European dress.
Russia, China, Persia and the Ottoman Empire looked at the Indian Conquest nervously, realizing that if either of the Western Powers got a sufficient foothold over India, it could result in a springboard into the Middle East or Asia, which both nations achieved by 1855. Although both nations had done well, Britain came out on top, controlling the best ports and positions in India, while France was in charge of the primarily Islamic and Sikh areas in the West, as well as the Punjab Kingdom in the North. Some battles were fought between the British and French Companies, but in the end, they agreed to settle their differences, and divided the former nation between the two of them.
South American Crisis (1849)
The situation in South America, while not as dangerous as in Europe, was no less tense. The three major powers, Brazil, Argentina and the Central American Republic were trying to do their best to outmaneuver the others and dominate the continent. The three worked to expand their armies with newer weapons, conscription and European military officers. Spies were rumored to be running in the major cities of South America, trying to find secrets that would give their nation an edge over the others.
It was in the Capital of Peru, Lima, where the tensions came to a head. The shooting of an Argentinian businessman (who, it was later revealed, was on the payroll of Argentina and the C.A.R. at the same time) on March 6, 1846, sparked an uproar in both Medellín and Buenos Aires. Brazil quickly announced that they had not been behind the attack, but soon the investigation by Peruvian policemen proved otherwise. Argentina broke off relations with Brazil on April 6, with the Central American Republic doing so the next day. Tensions were high, and went higher When a bomb went off in the Rio de Janeiro Naval Facility on May 6. Brazil responded to this attack with a military mobilization two days later, being followed by Argentina (which called its reserves on May 12) and the Central American Republic (which put her navy to sea on May 16). War was right around the corner.
The Rio de la Plata War (1846-1849)
The Rio de la Plata War (or War of the River Plate) was originally fought between Argentina and Brazil over the rights to the river of the same name. The two armies fought viciously back and forth over the frontier for over two years, until the Central American Republic allied with Argentina and invaded Brazil from the north, also breaking the Brazilian blockade of Argentina in the summer of 1848. Brazil was able to hold off the two nations, and ultimately drove them out of the Empire. In the end, the three nations agreed to an armistice on August 17, 1849, three years after the war began, but the Treaty of Lima did not satisfy any of the three nations involved, so tensions remained high.
The war left enormous scars in the region, and nearly wiped out an entire generation. The economic burden of the war devastated the economies of the continent, and it would take years to repair the damage. But the nationalism that the war sparked and blossomed was not easily extinguished, and the people of the various countries were bitter over the fact that none of them won the war. The Generals and Admirals who held positions of respect and power found themselves unceremoniously dumped out of their positions.
The American Predicament (1844-1858)
The United States, under the leadership of President Gerrit Smith of the recently formed Liberty Party, began to adopt more pro-British, anti-slavery policies, such as restricting the slave holding states to south of the Plantation Line, created in 1845. No slave states were to be allowed above that line unless Congress first approved. This left neither side happy, as the Territory of Nebraska was completely left out, while the border states of Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware were added to the South, which angered the Abolitionists. President Smith left the White House a bitter man, mostly because no one could work on a compromise to restrict slavery that everyone would accept.
The next President, Zachary Taylor, a War of Texan Liberation veteran, was considered a supporter of the Manifests, and many Southern men believed that he would push for the expansion of slavery. However, he died a few months into office, and was succeed by his Vice-President, Millard Fillmore. The man was, however, unable to organize a new compromise, and was replaced by James Buchanan in the 1856 election. By this time, all of the parties and factions in congress were tearing at each other's throats, and the incident where an anti-slavery Northern Senator was beaten by a younger Southern Representative in 1857 did nothing to help matters.
The Union Torn Apart
Finally, on May 12, 1858, the South Carolina Legislature passed the Severance Act, by which the state withdrew from the United States. In the next week, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas and Territory of Florida also passed similar acts. Members of each "severed" state met in Charleston, and agreed to the Acts of Confederation, which stated that, as of that date, the Confederate States of America was a single nation. The Northern states, not wishing to see the union ripped apart, announced that the Southern states were in a state of rebellion against the United States on August 3, and mobilized forces to destroy the Confederacy in its infancy. The Second Americas War had begun.
The European Storm Breaking (1846-1858)
The mood in the Europe of the late 1840's was perhaps some of the most tense before the Prussian Expansion War, though many optimists said that the tension between the nations would end with a whimper, like the previous conflict. But the vast majority knew this would not be the case.
The major powers entered a Naval Arms race, as the feasibility of steamships were proven by the British Cunard Line shipping company, which pioneered the use of passenger steamships. The first successful steam-powered warship was the Vulcan, the first French Imperial steam frigate, which was faster than any sailing warship, and boasted of an iron citadel where the cannons were placed. As soon as it was launched in 1847, it made all wooden sailing ship obsolete. The Royal Navy, plus the other European Navies and the United States soon began to build more of these ships: by 1850, France had 16, Great Britain had 15, Russia ten, Italy six, Prussia four, and Spain, Sweden and Ottoman Turkey each had three of this "Vulcan" class steam frigate, with even more being under construction. Railroads kept growing, linking even some of the most isolated towns of Europe, with France and Britain again taking the lead.
The French began to call up the older classes of conscripts to retrain them at new barracks and forts throughout the nation, with the service period lasting three years. The United Kingdom and Prussia held joint military maneuvering in Pomerania in 1847.
In 1848, in perhaps one of the biggest shocks to the present European Order, Austria-Hungary left the Marseilles Pact, and became more friendly with Prussia and Britain. Napoleon II was reported to have said: "Now I can't trust anyone; my greatest allies can become my biggest opponents".
However, in the process of negotiating the Treaty of Rome, Napoleon II came down with a severe case of food poisoning, and died two days later. This shocked the nations of Europe, and now many believed that war was right around the corner, for Napoleon II was considered a great leader, trying to maintain the balance of power and preventing another war. Philip Joseph, who was only 13, was crowned in Notre Dame as the new Emperor of the French Empire in 1849, though a Regent council was formed to rule until he reached the age of majority.
Solidifying the Alliances
The death of Napoleon II happened at a crucial time in European History, and many believed it had been an assassination ordered by one of the members of United Coalition, which was strongly denied.
The conspiracy theories continued to drive the nations together into their respective alliances. The Marseilles Pact held a meeting of its top generals in Lyon in 1850, which was repeated in 1851, 1853 and 1857. The United Coalition began an effort to modernize their forces to the best extent possible, though progress was hampered by the enormous costs involved. Many British Army units still had muskets from the First Great European War in 1856. Factories throughout Europe began to turn out newer and deadlier weapons, such as carbines, "rifled muskets" and artillery pieces. Fortifications along the borders of many nations were strengthened, especially by General Jean-Baptiste Philibert Vaillant in the French Empire. His major achievement was the Soult Line, named after the recently deceased Field Marshal Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult in 1852. It covered the French border from the Swiss Confederation to the North Sea, while smaller fortifications protected the Netherlands, the Confederation of the Rhine, Italy and Switzerland.
Great Britain and France provided massive loans to their allies, mostly in order to make sure that the nations would be able to strengthen their own armies and therefore their alliance. While many pacifists argued against these loans and the build up of the armies, they were at best ignored, and at worst actively suppressed, as it happened in some states, such as Ottoman Turkey and Prussia. The Marseilles Pact nations used these attacks as propaganda to strengthen their own position, although Italy and, to a minor extent, France, were also guilty of silencing the opposition.
The European Balance of Power
As the various nations eyed each other for weaknesses and strengths, it soon became apparent that nothing could stop a full-scale European war. The Prussian Expansion War was assumed to be a model of the next war, with armies using the speed and mobility of the Napoleonic Era armies, and the firepower of modern weapons. The size of the armies that were being conscripted and trained by the major powers soon numbered not just thousands, or hundreds of thousands, but millions or more.
Out of all the Marseilles Pact's members, the strongest was France: in 1855, with a population of over 50,000,000 people, the total men that had been trained and were available for duty was 3.5 million, with another 2.4 million untrained men, although not all of them would be called up: it was assumed that the ones used in the war would be mostly the older, more experienced conscripts and the professional soldiers. Italy had 3.75 million men of military age, of which 750,000 had been fully trained, and 1.25 million were in the reserves, but due to the lax conscription laws and high dropout rates, the real numbers would be lower. The greatest army was Russia's, with a massive population of roughly 90,000,000 people, and a 12.5 million men army, although no such army would ever be mobilized in the 1850s due to the logistics involved, so only 2.5 million men could be placed in the field at once. The number was expected to increase once the Great Railroad Program, proclaimed by the new Czar, Alexander II (crowned in 1855), was completed, connecting the entire Empire and leaving room for expansion. Other smaller nations, such as Poland, Greece, Switzerland and Holland also had independent armies, but could not match with the other Marseilles Pact members in size, strength or efficiency, but were loyal and dedicated, and in the era of military elan, that was assumed to be enough.
In the United Coalition, Prussia had 3.5 million men eligible for military service in 1857, and the United Kingdom had 3 million men. Prussia, after the defeat of the Rhineland Conflict and the Prussian Expansion War, had spent enormous sums on the military, which, besides nearly bankrupting the state (saved only by British loans), managed to become the most professional army of the world. Great Britain, on the other hand, was tied by years of constrained budgets, which meant that many units still had weapons that they would have fought with in the First Great European War. However, increased spending in the later part of the 1840s meant that most units were rearmed, but at an enormous cost. Austria-Hungary faced problems with its non Germanic or Hungarian populations, leaving, out of a population of 36 million in 1846, only 900,000 men in the regular army and 1.5 million in the reserve army of "loyal soldiers"; everyone else was looked upon with suspicion, and totaled roughly another 1.9 million. Spain was the weakest of powers, with a poorly trained army of roughly 2.2 million, which also included reserves, but armed with weapons that were truly ancient even by the standards of British weaponry.
Politically, the situation was very volatile. France had the feeling of being surrounded, with Britain across the English Channel, Spain in the south and Prussia on the border with the Confederation of the Rhine. Poland, its west and south bordering two powers that were allied against it, was in a very precarious situation. Greece, independent for over thirty years, was internally divided, with the population split between the nationalist Monarchists and the Republicans: while not leading to civil war, it meant that they couldn't do much to support the Marseilles Pact. The Ottoman Empire desperately wanted to rebuild its empire, and saw Greece and Romania as the perfect states to expand into, especially since both of them had once been part of the Empire. Prussia wished to unite all the German states together, possibly even Flanders and Holland, while Austria-Hungary eyed the Croatian coastline that Italy held as its only possible access to the sea. Russia, if it entered the war, would have to fight against Prussia, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire on different fronts, while also supporting Poland, as they had reluctantly taken over as its primary supporter, replacing France. And the situation between Britain and France in Africa, India, Asia and Oceania also threatened to bring war to the many colonies that each nation held. Many assumed that the British policy of "Indianisation" of its colonies would give them the upper hand.
Outbreak of War
The spark that ignited the war was the dispute between France, Russia and Ottoman Turkey over Romania and the Holy Land of Palestine. Russia claimed to be the protector of the Russian Orthodox Christians in Romania, which was technically a buffer state between Russia and Turkey, although allied with France in the Marseilles Pact. Turkey, wishing to expand its influence into the small nation on its northern border, rejected the claims made by Czar Nicholas I, and proclaimed itself the "Protector of the Romanian People." Meanwhile, France, as per the Treaty that ended the Grecian Independence War, claimed itself the protector of the Christan Holy Sites in Palestine, but Ottoman Turkey still disputed this. After Italian pilgrims were brutally killed in a massive Muslim-led riot in Jerusalem, France sent a naval force to Jaffa, and landed Marines. Turkey demanded that the troops leave, and quietly sent forces to overwhelm the battalion of French Marines, which was done on March 17, 1858. After the Regent Council, still ruling France despite the fact that Philip Joseph came of age in 1853 (he was a sickly child, and was suffering the effects of haemophilia, and not expected to live much longer) heard of this, they took this as an attack on the French Empire, so they declared war on March 29. Prussia, along with Great Britain, declared war on April 5, and Russia on April 17. Spain and Sweden declared war on the Marseilles Pact on April 19, and Greece, Poland, and Romania declared hostilities against the United Coalition on April 21. Europe plunged into the war that was known to be coming.