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The Great War of 1862 was the global escalation of several wars, in both Europe and the Americas. The war soon expanded to involve European, American and Asian nations and be fought also in Africa and Australesia.
France launched an invasion of Austrian northern Italy, the 7th March, 1862. This is the official start of the Great War of 1862, as it triggered a system of alliances and co-belligerencies that soon became a war fought all over the world, involving powers from three continents, and fought in six of them.
In September, 1861, an incident regarding administration of Schlatzig-Holstein causes Prussia to declare war on Austria. Some fails in the execution of the railroad plan to mobilize troops, prevents a quick victory of the Prussians and the Austrian army reassembles in November. Hostilities continue through the winter.
In October, 1861, an escaped pig triggers some shooting between US and UK regulars in a small island in the Juan de Fuca Strait. While the foreign affair departments in both nations try to negotiate a cease fire, shooting incidents repeat in all the strait area. In December, a British fleet arrives with the mission to control their own men, but is received by fire from the Americans.
In November, 1861, a British vessel explodes in Bluefields. Evidence of sabotage make the British to point the Colombians, with whom there is an open disagreement on Essequibo and the West Caribbean. Colombians point the Nicaraguans, and Nicaraguans point back to Colombia. Britain increases Royal Navy presence near Colombian shore, which caused an accident on February, 1862, in front of La Guaira.
In December, 1861, Colombian soldiers patrolling the Mainas jungle, attempts to imprison Peruvian illegal quina gatherers apparently using slave labor. After the shooting, five Colombian soldiers, one Peruvian master and one Peruvian slave end up dead. Colombia protests and send more troops to the region to stop Peruvian predators. Peru send her army to protect her citizens. In January, a shooting incident in what Colombians claim it was Colombia, and Peruvians claim it was Peru, triggered Colombia to declare war on Peru.
In January, 1862, a militia of Dutch settlers in South Africa attacks several British garrisons in South Africa, killing near 86 British regulars and burning property. Britain reacts by sending 150,000 soldiers.
In February, 1862, moved by a sense of Latinhood, and expecting to claim some new colonies, French emperor, Napoleon III, sends and army to civil unstable Mexico, which disembarks on Veracruz, the 19th February, 1862.
Great War in Europe
France launched an invasion of Austrian northern Italy, the 7th March, 1862. While the attack was not originally coordinated with Prussia a previous alliance was invoked to begin some coordinated attack on Austria.
Worried by the Franco-Prussian alliance, the United Kingdom declared war on both France and Prussia on March 18.
By April, each German state had allied with either Prussia or Austria. In April 26, the Netherlands entered the war against Austria and Britain, but their main interests was not the war in Europe but in Africa and Australesia. The first action of war was to sent a fleet to South Africa to help the Boers.
The 12th May, 1862, Vienna felt to the Prussian Army and France had effective control on northern Italy. Austrians, however, kept fighting from each corner of their empire. The 13th, Britain coerced Denmark to become a British ally, and grant the British full access to the Baltic. Soon, the Royal Navy got effective control of the seas around Europe, but the North Sea.
On May, 1863, France sent a request to co-belligerent United States of America: to formalize an alliance against Britain and to invite American troops to fight on European soil. The first American expedition, composed by 5,000 men, arrived on October.
On September, 1863, Australia managed an agreement with Russia, and Russian declared war to Prussia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France. The first action was to reinforce the Austrian front. The Big Game was on, however.
The War in the Americas
By mid March, 1862, news reached the Congress of the United States of America on British atrocities against American civilians and soldiers. This was enough for a declaration of war, issued on March 23, 1862.
On April 1st, Colombia also formalized a declaration of war on Britain, and launched an attack on Essequibo. Cuba and Puerto Rico issued respective declarations of war on April 7.
On April 13, the US army launched an invasion of Canada, moving towards Ottawa.
In April 17, a British fleet from Jamaica attacked a French convoy from Mexico. Most of the passengers on that convoy were injured soldiers.
In May 12, a great group of the US Navy and the Colombian Atlantic Navy, assembled in Cuba. The 16, an invasion force of 250,000 soldiers (130,000 Americans and 70,000 Colombians, Cubans and Puertoriqueans, and 10,000 Haitians) disembarked in northern Jamaica.
Africa, Asia and Australesia
Outside Europe and the Americas, most of the fighting occurred between the Britain on one side, and the Netherlands and France on the other, at least until June, 1863, when the United Kingdom sent an expedition to Japan, to confront Dutch interests there. Threatened by British guns, Japan accepted British terms to join the war to the British side.
On early 1867, Austria finally surrendered, and this sat all involved parties to a negotiation table that finally brought the Peace of Lisbon, signed August 19, 1867.
Prussia insisted in no punishment to Austria: no territorial concessions, the casus belli: Schlatzig-Holstein, was in full Danish control, which both Prussia and Austria accepted.
Austria also lost northern Italy to Sardinia, and some territories to Turkey, who also expanded east into Central Asia.
The United States demanded Britain out of the Americas, but given the effective presence of Britain on American seas, and particularly on western North America, the USA accepted full British control of the Oregon Territory, provided that Britain lost all her Caribbean colonies and granted independence to Canada. Also the western US-Canadian border was reset at the 51th parallel (between the Manitoba Lake to the Continental Divide. The same Continental divide would be the borders between independent USA and Canada and dependent British North American territories.
British Caribbean possessions were divided between the United States and Colombia. Colombia grabbed the Miskito Coast, San Andres, Cayman Island, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago, and British Leeward and Windward Islands. The USA kept Jamaica, British Honduras, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda and the Virgin Islands.
Canada was granted independence as a republic under the Commonwealth.
France kept her European borders, kept her North African colonies and her Caribbean colonies, but was forced definitively out of Mexico, and lost colonies in Africa and Asia to Britain.
Prussian main goal: to become Germany's agglutinating power was lost, despite her victory over Austria. British power on the Baltic, was only contested by the Dutch, and German Allies to Prussia were led rather by the Netherlands or France, than by Prussia. Hanover demanded, and was conceded, independence from Prussia. Also, Prussian territories west of Hanover, became the non-Prussian state of Rhineland.
In Europe, both Prussia and Austria were devastated, and none of them was in a winning position. The Netherlands became the most influential power over the German states. Austria granted independence to the North of Italy, but managed to keep most of her empire.
France was okay. No big loses, neither big gains, but her status in Europe was severed. France had to abandon the adventurism in Mexico.
Probably the major loser in the War was Mexico. The civil uproar that lead the Mexicans to call the French, disintegrated Mexico during the war. All the powers used Mexico as a playground. The separatists in Texas gained their independence during the war. British supported California, invaded Sonora and Baja, and let British troops to land in Mexico, and several local warlords opposed either the French, the Americans, the British, the Dutch and the Colombians.
The powers retired from Mexico at the armistice of 1867, but the fight lasted.
See: Mexican Civil War