Alternate History

Gettysburg Lost / Reconstruction Won

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An interesting alternative would be to consider if the Union Army had mass-produced Dr. Gatling's machine gun (invented in 1851) at the commencement of the war.

Under this scenario, General Scott recognizes the new military movements required to effectively utilize the new machine gun. At the outset of the war, he orders 100,000 Union troops to entrench on the Virginia side of the Potomac, moving forward towards Richmond only until scouts encounter Confederate troops. At which point the Union soldiers set up machine gun nests that provide an insurmountable field of fire over 20 miles wide. Confederate generals order their troops to advance in the traditional manner (massed attack) that was used by the British in the Revolutionary War. Meanwhile, half of the Union troops under the command of General Meade are marching around to the West and Southwest of the Confederate troops, setting up machine gun lines of fire that will be ready for the Confederate retreat. At the only battle of Manassas, over 85% of the Confederate armies are killed or so seriously wounded that they will never fight again, all within only 15 minutes. The well-protected Union soldiers suffer less than 100 minor wounds and no casualties.

Civilians on both sides foolishly followed each army. During the brief battle, Confederate politicians panic at the unexpected decimation of their new army. The politicians along with the small remnant of the army retreat in a partially orderly manner southward, but away from the direction of Richmond, where they assume Union troops will next advance toward. As a result, the Confederate leaders and troops flee directly into General Meade's machine gun line, and are completely eliminated. General Scott leaves the field to report in person to President Lincoln, leaving his subordinate and mentee, General McClelland, in command of all armies in the field. General McClelland comments to reporters and subordinates about how appalled he is at the massive slaughter, and how he has sympathy for the white Southern slaveholders. He, therefore, decides to prevent the Union army from advancing on Richmond. Later, upon hearing of this misconduct, President Lincoln dismisses General McClelland from all commands and orders him back to Washington to serve as an advisor to Secretary of War Stanton.

Word of the massive, demoralizing defeat reaches Richmond via General Stuart, General Pickett, and General Early. The few remaining Confederate cabinet members and Senators who did not ride out with the army debate on what action to take to save their cause of establishing a slave-based nation. The consensus eventually develops that generals Stuart and Pickett acted too brashly, and that their cavalry and infantry troops might have reversed the tide if they had strictly followed orders of the (now deceased) General Lee to attack the Union troops from the rear in a flanking maneuver. Thus General Early was appointed by the Senators as temporary President of the Confederacy. Early's first decision is to gather remaining troops and supplies, abandon Richmond, and move the capitol to a safer location at Montgomery, Alabama. His strategy is to fight a defensive, guerrilla war, hoping to wear down the Union forces while making a secret trip to England to win the recognition and troop support of the British.

President Early gives General Longstreet command of all irregular troops to conduct guerrilla warfare, and orders him to attempt a surprise attack on Washington. The strategy is to frighten Northern politicians into demanding a retreat of Union troops from Virginia to protect the American capitol. General Longstreet actually achieves several significant successes over the remainder of 1861, especially with "total war" raids in Kentucky and Tennessee, which destroy many crops, farms, towns, and government buildings. To help the Confederates further, McClelland starts a public feud with his boss, Secretary Stanton, over the proper rules of engagement that Union troops should have to follow when traveling through Southern territory. McClelland issues his "Rules of Engagement" booklet without proper authorization. The book calls for Union troops to either return all Blacks encountered (slave or free) to the nearest Southern plantation, or to kill them instantly. When this booklet's contents are published by papers throughout the North, the public disgust causes Lincoln to dishonorably discharge McClelland. About the same time, an investigative reporter finds out about the relationship between the disgruntled McClelland and other Southern sympathizers, and their plot to assassinate Lincoln and other top government leaders. The group, headed by an actor, John W. Booth, is quickly rounded up, convicted by a civilian jury, and executed.

Meanwhile, a Charleston, SC paper found out that Early could have lead the Confederate troops to victory in the Manassas debacle, but as his troops began to flank the Union left (Eastern line), Early panicked, and fled the field. His cowardly action, now that it has been made public, caused the Confederate Congress to impeach and convict him while he was still in negotiations with the British parliament. Early's personal disgrace, along with McClelland's heinous command to enslave and kill all Blacks, caused widespread revulsion against Southerners and their cause throughout Europe. The British, Dutch, French, and German governments immediately broke off all negotiations and imposed an embargo on all goods to or from the Confederacy.

Back home, President Lincoln had appointed General Grant as supreme commander of all Union forces, replacing General Scott, who was now perceived as ineffective, due to his personal relationships with some of the Southern commanders formerly fighting under him in the Mexican-American War. General Grant recognized the importance of the Gatling gun, and instituted a new research project to develop a rapid-fire cannon equivalent. The new repeating cannon was ready for mass production by January of 1862. Grant ordered Union army commanders to advance deep throughout Confederate territory from the Union army command center in Richmond. Because of the outrages and civilian atrocities committed by Longstreet's Confederate troops, both Tennessee and Kentucky declared their firm support for the Union, and provided another 50,000 troops to fight the Confederates. General Longstreet was now trapped behind enemy lines. His plan had been to use the Appalachian Mountain chain as cover to secretly sneak an army of 80,000 troops into Northern territory, then descend on Washington from the North - a direction which no Union commander would expect. However, with the two neutral Southern states declaring support for the Union, Longstreet's supply line was cut off, and he could no longer count on retreat through those states. The Tennessee and Kentucky militia, now designated as the Loyal Army of the South, under the command of General Billy Sherman (the most beloved general by troops on either side), quickly advanced upon Longstreet's cornered troops.

Sherman caught up with Longstreet at a small crossroads called Gettysburg. Since Longstreet was first to arrive in town, his troops immediately secured the heights. Sherman attempted one brief battle, which cost over 10,000 lives on each side. That evening, Sherman sent a message to Grant informing him of the situation, and requesting orders. Grant sent an artillery corp armed with the new repeater cannons. A spy informed Longstreet of the approaching army and their new destructive weapons. Longstreet placed General Pickett in charge of the army, ordering the army to march towards Washington against the new army. Longstreet's orders to Pickett were to attack an destroy the artillery corp while they were still out in the field. During the night, Longstreet, recognizing the situation as futile, slipped away under a flag of truce to meet with General Sherman, and offer the surrender of his army. General Sherman's troops were still angry at the outrages that Longstreet's troops had committed against their families, so Sherman declined anything but an unconditional surrender. At this point Longstreet personally surrendered to Sherman and offered to share Confederate secrets of supply and battle plans, internal dissensions, and other useful information with the Union in exchange for a pardon. As Sherman's army pursued Pickett, the new Union artillery corp under Doubleday's command received word of the advancing Confederate army. The Union artillery set up a defensive position and awaited the enemy army arrival.

The new repeating cannons destroyed all but 2,000 Confederate troops within only 12 minutes. As Pickett called for retreat back towards Gettysburg and his commander, Longstreet, Sherman's army set up their Gatling guns, and killed all remaining Confederate troops. Altogether, Longstreet was the sole remaining Confederate soidier out of an original army of 80,000. Union losses were 10,200 dead, 8,000 wounded. The news of this victory was telegraphed throughout America. Support for the slavery cause among poor white Southerners almost completely evaporated after this. Many felt that the rich plantation owners had betrayed them and used them to fight for plantation owners' dreams of living a luxurious and powerful life at the expense of the average Southern citizen. Desertion rates for the remaining Confederate armies quickly rose to almost 40% in many units, causing General Stuart, the brash and impetuous new leader of the Confederacy (now a military dictatorship) to impose a draft. The Home Guards, which were widely hated by almost all Southerners, now had to contend with guerrilla attacks from Southern citizens resisting the Confederate draft and an unpopular cause.

By March of 1862 the noose was tightening around the remains of the Confederacy, which now amounted to approximately 85 miles of effective control around the capitol of Montgomery, and down to the port of Mobile. With Sherman's army approaching from Tennessee, General Meade's army advancing from Georgia, General Chamberlain's army riding in from the West, the Confederates, comprised of approximately 30,000 wealthy plantation owners and hardcore white supremecists, plus another 70,000 soldiers under the direct command of President/General Stuart, were feeling very discouraged about the advancing three Union armies, totalling over 250,000 volunteers.

However, before any of the Union armies could reach the retreating Confederate lines, a massive slave revolt occurred in Montgomery, simultaneously with a large uprising of poor white and black farmers in northern Alabama, who called themselves the Union Forces of Alabama. This is the same area where General Sherman's personal bodyguard was recruited. The Alabama militia attacked the Confederate lines, driving them back to a tiny, 12 mile area in and around Mobile. President/General Stuart ordered all boats in Mobile confiscated and all the people the boats could hold to prepare for an escape. In the end, approximately 25,000 people (half soldiers and half civilians) departed for Mexico in hopes of establishing a Confederate command center there from which to continue the war. The remaining Confederates were crushed within two weeks in Mobile.

The federal government immediately began a large-scale effort to encourage states and towns to provide education vouchers. By 1880 this effort at educating the general public resulted in more democracy and the gradual elimination of racial tensions throughout the South and the entire nation without need of any expansive government programs or high taxes. 1862 saw the reuniting of the nation and a boom in prosperity that continues over 150 years later while retaining all the constitutional freedoms of a very limited federal and state governments.

What happened to those escaping Confederates? Stuart offered his army's services to Emperor Maximilian, the false ruler the French had imposed upon the Mexican people. General Juarez won the Mexican revolution, crushing Maximilian and the combined French and Confederate troops. Since Stuart's people had continued their "tradition" of enslaving and taking advantage of the local people, the triumphant Mexicans took harsh revenge upon the Confederates and French. Stuart was killed at Cancun along with his personal bodyguard while attempting to fend off the Mexican army so his surviving Confederates could once again board a ship bound towards supposed safety - this time Brazil. The United States offered compensation to the Mexicans for the damage Stuart and his Confederates had done, and the American government helped train Mexican teachers and soldiers about American principles of freedom. These efforts eventually took hold, which is why Mexico is such a peaceful and prosperous nation today, helping to address the poverty and immigration problems near the Mexican-Guatemalan border.

All remaining 7,800 hardcore Confederates arrived in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. It seems that the Americans can beat the Confederates to Brazil, and had begun to educate them on the merits of free enterprise. Within a year after the Confederate attempted to set up plantions along the Amazon River in Brazil, the Brazilian people outlawed slavery. Since none of the Confederates knew how to work the farms, they were faced with either moving again or certain starvation. Also, the tragedy of several Confederate children being eaten alive by piranha caused many Confederates to feel eager to leave Brazil. Thus they landed in the southern most tip of Argentina.

The winter of 1864 saw quite a number of deaths by freezing. By the end of 1864 the Confederates felt they had finally re-established their old lifestyle, albeit with very different (and far less profitable) crops than the old cotton and tobacco. Some still dreamed of mounting a new pro-slavery government. However, in the summer of 1867 an Argentine navy vessle discovered the Confederate plantations outside Tierra del Fuego, forcing natives into working the farms as slaves, in direct violation to Argentine law and international conventions. The resulting brief battle resulted in the final extinction of the final Confederate remnant. An Argentine monument marks the site today where the wickedness of slavery was finally extinguished and freedom triumphed in the New World.

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