Alternate History

Tanks of the North: Rise of an Empire

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The Confederate War of Independence was a major military conflict that lasted from 1861 to 1865, and saw some of the bloodiest fighting yet seen. Its true legacy, however, was not the destruction of a nation, the rise of an empire, and the independence of a rebellious slave Confederacy, but the technology. Discovered in 1861 by Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, new technology would bring casualties to an overwhelming high.

1861-Rally Round the Flag

The Secession of South Carolina and six other southern states in early 1861 did not immediately cause a conflict. But the resulting seizure of federal forts in their borders brought the Union government and the independence movement closer and closer to bloodshed. Finally, that tension boiled over in the Shelling of Fort Sumter, in April. President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the "rebellion". Jefferson Davis began assembling a 100,000 man army. Early battles in April, May, and June were little more then skirmishes along the borders. The Union managed to prevent Missouri, Maryland, and Kentucky from seceding, but failed to keep Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas in the Union. By July, the lines were drawn. The Union army under Irvin McDowell moved south into Virginia, and engaged Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T Beauregard's armies at Manassas Junction. The Battle of Bull Run was a seesaw affair, until finally, the Confederates broke the Union lines, and chased them back to Washington. In the west, battles in Missouri began to occur, most famously at Wilson's Creek. Kentucky seemed ready to secede, but Leonidas Polk extended his defensive line into the state. In response, General Grant retaliated with occupying a northern Kentuckian town.

During this operation, Grant uncovered something shocking. A massive array of weapons along the Ohio. What seemed to have happened was time machine experiment in 1943 had brought future weapons to 1861. Grant immediately began to train with these weapons, hoping to use them against the south.
Grant and Tiger

Grant with a Tiger Tank, 1861.

Using a German born officer Karl Leopold Matthies to translate the words, Grant developed a theory for battle based on these. Grant attempted to get the War Department to adopt his ideas throughout late 1861, but Henry Halleck and Don Carlos Buell ignored them, believing that untested, unproven equipment had no place in the Union Army. Lincoln, however, saw the opportunity, and gave Grant Command of the Army of the Tennessee, and the right to use the vehicles. However, Admiral Farragut of the Union Navy had discovered something just as monumental. Ships from the 1940s. Chief among them, was the Tirpitz. Tirpitz was much bigger then any vessel before her, and was made of steel, ran on oil, and could fire fifteen inch guns. Farragut immediately requested to use her as his flagship. Lincoln created the Iron Fleet, named for the mistaken belief she was made of iron. Seeking to take a major Confederate port with his new ship, Farragut sailed towards Wilmington, North Carolina. However, he was unprepared for what awaited him there. The Confederates had discovered similar equipment in their own territory. These included Russian World War II Tanks, and planes.

As the war continues into the fall, Grant reveals to the world his new armored army. Launching a ferocious attack on the Confederate forces in Belmont, Missouri. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the Union panzers smash the Confederate defenses, and Grant captures 3500 prisoners.

With Grant's victory, the Union press is shocked, and goes into a tidal wave of support. Lincoln, despite the advice of his senior generals, McClellan and Halleck, promotes Grant to Major General, and gives him command of the department of Kentucky after another general, William T, Sherman, is relieved of command.

Grant consolidates all his forces into the Army of the Ohio, about 40,000 men overall, and begins moving south and east into Confederate controlled areas of Kentucky.

In the east, Joseph E. Johnston commands the Confederate Army of the Potomac, though no major battles erupt due to the caution of General McClellan. Lincoln, tired of McClellan's refusal to move against Johnston's smaller army, orders a Union offensive into Virginia. McClellan grudgingly marches his army southward, meeting Johnston in battle at Manassas. The battle is a stalemate, but Johnston is wounded, and Robert E. Lee takes command of the Confederate Army.

1862-A Hard Road to Travel

As 1862 begins, the fighting in Kentucky and Virginia drags on. However, attention in the press shifts to the navy. In early february, the three Confederate Battleships, the CSS Virginia, CSS Georgia, and CSS Texas launch a massive attack on the Union blockade of Hampton Roads. The Confederates renamed the newly discovered Gangut-Class Battleships after famous Southern States.

However, the next day, as the Confederates prepare to resume their attack, Admiral Raphael Semmes spots four dark shapes on the horizon. The Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, Scheer, and Lutzow, a powerful fleet of Union battleships and battle cruisers. The Union fleet closes in, and the two fleets engage about three miles off shore.

The Tirpitz sinks the Virginia, while Scharnhorst damages Texas. The Georgia manages to escape, but is damaged. Her commander, Semmes, sails into the Atlantic, hoping to use her as a commerce raider.

Meanwhile, Jefferson Davis offers to export Confederate technology to the British and French if they intervene on their side. The two European nations agree to do so if the Confederates can win a great victory. Lee, in an attempt to gain this recognition, launches a ferocious attack on Union forces without the approval of Jefferson Davis. McClellan's Army of the Potomac is encircled and captured around Alexandria, and the Union government flees northward. However, a Confederate airstrike destroys the train carrying them, and leaves the Union without a leader and wipes out the presidential line of succession.

As fears of anarchy mount among the civilian population, General Grant decides to restore order. However, it comes at a terrible time. Britain and France, impressed by the Confederate victories, recognize their independence. They demand the Union recalls its Armies. While most military commanders do so, Grant refuses.

Grant leads the remnants of the Union forces in the east, along with his main army of the Ohio, into Pennsylvania were he confronts Lee at Camp Hill. Lee attacks first, initially pushing the Union left flank back, however an armoured counterattack by Union Heavy Tanks pushes the Confederates back to their starting positions. Following this attack, Grant launches an attack on the whole front line, and succeeds in pushing Lee into a retreat. However, it is strategically indecisive, as the Confederates retreat in good order, and escape into Maryland.

At sea, Tirpitz and Scharnhorst begin searching for the CSS Georgia in the North Atlantic. Meanwhile, Britain and France repeat the demand for peace. Grant replies by launching a ferocious attack on Lee at Baltimore, though the batle drifts into bitter stalemate. Britain and France debate about entering the war.

Fighting rages on, with Grant continuing frontal attacks on Baltimore, slowly pushing the Confederate lines into the city. Lee resorts to full scale trench warfare which devastates the city. Finally, in the late period of the war, Lee withdraws, where he fortifies his army along the Potomac River of Virginia.

Taking advantage of the Union victory, Grant enters Washington, and creates a provisional government of the United States. Many commanders respond by declaring their loyalty to him. Seeking to overwhelm the Confederacy, Grant calls for five hundred thousand more troops to ensure a Union Victory.

These and the seven hundred thousand men in the Union army are dispatched are reorganized into several armies. Adopting the later designation of using numbered armies, Grant designates the first through twelfth armies. Gathering the first, sixth, and eigth armies, Grant launches a ferocious offensive against the Confederates,

The First Army, originally the Army of the Potomac, advances on Alexandria Virginia, while the Sixth slices through the Shenandoah, and the Eighth in reserve, protecting Washington. However, the Union advances are all blunted by smaller Confederate armies at Winchester and Alexandria.

Lee responds by calling for all able bodied men, including blacks. However, Jefferson Davis rescinds the order, and instead calls upon Britain and France to send aid.

1863-Three Fronts

As 1863 begins, Grant debates with his generals about what to do about the Confederate problem. Union reconnaissance aircraft spot a number of ships heading to Canada and French Controlled Mexico, and their is widespread fear that Britain and France will intervene. However, intervention seems likely when the Battle cruiser Scharnhorst spots a convoy, which fires upon her. While only a warning shot, this provokes the battle cruiser to return fire with her fearsome guns.

The destruction of this convoy results in Britain and France declaring war on the Union on January 14th. On the 18th, Grant orders the Ninth and Third Armies to invade Canada. They immediately maul the still mostly Militia forces at the Battle of the Frontier, and rampage northward. Finally, they reach Hudson Bay by February 4th.

In the west, the French launch an invasion of California and New Mexico. Through sheer numbers, they win victories, and most of New Mexico and the southern most quarter of California falls to them. They hand these territories to the Confederacy. However, the arrival of the Union 4th Army results in the Battle of Los Angeles, and California is liberated from the Franco-Confederate army.

In the east, the Confederate army invades Ohio in an attempt to cut the North in two. The Battle however, turns in the Union's favor near Columbus, and the Union Army counters with a thrust into Missouri and Texas. In the air, the Confederates bomb Washington several times. In revenge, the Union bombs Richmond.

At sea, the Battleship Tirpitz encounters a fleet of British Ironclads, and sinks every one of them in what many call the Greatest Naval Victory since Trafalgar.

On land, the Union completes reverse engineering its weapons, and Grant orders 5000 tanks, and dozens of naval vessels to fight in the war. In a show of force, in June, Grant invades Virginia, and confronts Lee at Harpers Ferry. There, Lee inflicts a humiliating defeat, and invades the North.

This is followed by a series of offensives across the south, with invasions of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, New Mexico, and California. Grant's army blunts Lee's attack at Gettysburg, but his commanders are defeated everywhere else except for California. At the same time, the Georgia and Texas ambush and sink the Lutzoe near Chesapeake Bay.

Riding the string of Confederate Victories, Lee again invades the North. This time, he launches a direct attack on Washington. Grant's forces hold the line, and Lee begins a siege.

British troops land in Canada, but are repulsed by the Union Third Army. French and Confederate troops attempt another nvasion of California, reaching Los Angeles, but are defeated yet again by stubborn Union resistance. As the Confederates, British and French invade Union territory across the continent, many expect a total Union collapse is near.

British forces capture Boston and rampage through New England, dealing what many Confederates see as a death blow to the crumbling Union. Grant however, in a rousing speech, declares that while the Union may not stop the South from leaving, they could push the enemy out of their territory, and continue the war. Inspired by Grant's speech, Union forces across the continent launch attacks on their enemies, and begin pushing them back.

1864-Final Blows

As 1864 begins, North America is in a state of stalemate and shock. The countryside is devastated by constant fighting, and the war seems to continue. By this point, in an attempt to win a moral victory for the Union, following Lincoln's original plans, Grant emancipates the slaves in Union held territory. However, stability begins to wane in the wake of such a proclamation. A rebellion breaks out, led by General George B. McClellan declares that Grant has gone to far, and forces loyal to him take power in Indiana, and begin marching towards Grant. With enemies approaching on four fronts, Grant's government's days seem numbered.

The British Army prepares to advance on New York City, the French and Confederates on Los Angeles, McClellan advancing towards Grant in Ohio, and Lee pressing north from Virginia.

McClellan allies with Lee, and the two armies advance on Grant's army at Pittsburgh. Grant's forces launch a furious assault with such ferocity that it forces Lee's Army to retreat. McClellan flees west, consolidating his position in Ohio and Illinois, cutting the Union in two. In the west, the Franco-Confederate army is defeated again, though the Union lacks the ability to pursue them. 

As the war drags on, the officers loyal to Grant decide that the United States, seemingly on the brink of defeat, needs to be reorganized to stabilize itself. Taking influence from Napoleon, they meet with Grant, and offer him the crown of Emperor of the American Empire. Grant, solely to stabilize the country, accepts. He is crowned Emperor. The United States is renamed the American Empire.

The new forces introduce a universal draft, and an extra million men are called up to fight in the war. In addition, the armies already embattled launch furious attacks on their enemies across the continent. Furious fighting wracks the countryside again. Grant's army defeats Lee at Annapolis, Sherman defeats McClellan at the Second Battle of Pittsburgh, General Custer is appointed commander of the Army of California and defeats the Franco-Confederate army first at Los Angeles, then, decisively, at San Diego. Custer's troops fight their way further south, pushing the Confederates into Arizona and the French into Mexico.

Meanwhile, the Union launches a second invasion of Canada, from which they withdrew after the British captured Boston. General Sheridan's Seventh and Thirteenth Armies crush the British again near Niagara Falls, and then invades Newfoundland, encircling the British who occupy New England.

The Imperial Army continues its campaigning, pushing its enemies back. Lee's Army is badly mauled at Trenton, where an attempted British Landing is cut to pieces by the Bismarck and Scheer. Afterwards, the Scharnhorst sinks the Texas near Florida, after which it lands troops on Wilmington, North Carolina.

As the war continues, both the Empire and the Confederacy near the point of total collapse. McClellan invades Illinois and captures Chicago, while Lee is forced back into Maryland. Grant finally decides to abandon the war with the Confederacy, and on September 3rd, signs a peace treaty with Lee, which gives all slaves states to the Confederacy as well as Oklahoma, and Confederate Arizona.

The French withdraw from the war with the Union, though Britain fights on. The Union army smashes the British and retakes Boston, and then rampaging across Canada, which surrenders on October 14th, 

Grant threatens to invade Britain if they don't surrender. Realizing that the Empire has the power to do so with its new navy, Britain agrees to make peace. The two countries sign the Treaty of London on November 1st, 1864.

With his victory over Britain and stalemate with the Confederacy and France, the Grant turns his attention to finishing McClellan. Grant and his generals invade Ohio in December, and after a slow battle, reach Colombus. McClellan, facing an uprising from the city, is forced to retreat west.


Grant pursues him, and traps him in Illinois. Without Confederate or British support, McClellan's forces are wiped out or surrender, and McClellan is captured. With McClellan's capture on January 4th, the War ends. However, the cost of the epic war are beyond counting. Over 1.8 million are dead. Three million are wounded. America is devastated. Many cities are in ruins, and the Confederacy, Britain, and France face an economic crisis.

The fighting has changed the face of the continent. The young American republic has been replaced by a Conquering American Empire, and its southern half has withdrawn into the Confederacy. America is a continent divided. Over six million men have been mobilized. The fighting has ended, but the new technology has changed the face of the world. Electricity, oil, factories, and new tactics change the face of war forever. What will this bring? Only time will tell.

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