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|The Great War|
Kingdom of Italy
United Provinces of Mexico
Second French Empire/Third French Republic
Second Mexican Empire
Various Native American Tribes
|Commanders and leaders|
George B. McClellan
Ulysses S. Grant
Winfield Scott Hancock
Kaiser Wilhelm I
Otto Von Bismark
Helmuth von Moltke
Czar Nicholas II
Robert E. Lee†
Francais Achille Bazaine
Louis Jules Trochu
The Great War was a world expanding conflict from early 1861 to later 1867. It involved virtually all the Great Powers of the age pitted against one another. It has several names depending of the region of the world. In the United States its known as the American Civil War, In Austria and France its known as the German Wars, and in Great Britain and Canada its known as the North American War. However modern historians now tend to just call it The Great War.
The conflict had originally started as a civil war between the United States and the breakaway states of the Confederate States of America.After the apparent success of the Maryland Campaign, Great Britain recognized the CSA as independent nation and demanded the for USA to end hostilities with the Confederacy, on the threat of intervention Surprisingly, the US Government had refused to and so Great Britain declared war upon the US, France quickly followed . Coming to the aide of the Union was the Russian Empire, looking to avenge its defeat in the Crimean War. Austria, Prussia, Italy, Spain, and the Ottoman Empire soon joined the war as well, all with their own reasons for joining.
The war has been called by many as the first of the modern age of war, due to nations focusing their entire industry and economy to the war effort, mainly the United States and Great Britain. Secondly because of the end of Napoleonic era tactics and the introduction of trench-based warfare.
The aftermath of the war had reshaped the world in terms of the new world powers. France and Austria were replaced by the new German Empire and Russian Empire as the European continental powers. Italy was now a fully unified country and on the rise. America was now on the fast track to becoming a world powerhouse as well. In the Middle East the collapse of the Ottoman Empire would open the region to Russian influence and dominance. The war had taken a large toll on the British Empire and would severely curtail British Imperialism for decades
The causes of the Great War had been widely debated since its end in 1867. There was no single cause that led to every nation in the world to war, but rather a series of events that ultimately led to the war.In the United States the war was originally started over the issue of state's rights and the role of federal government. Ever since the country's inception the states all had fiercely debated over the government's role. However this issue would soon become deadly when slavery was thrown into the debate. In the north slavery had mostly died out in favor of mechanized industry and Abolition was most strong here. Down south slavery was still strong, primarily because this region had not been industrialized and still depended on agriculture as a way of life. The debate would become deadly when slavery when slavery started to move westward into the new territories. Both sides were determined to have their way with slavery and both willing to kill over it. No where else was this more evident with John Brown. In the Kansas Territory, called "Bleeding Kansas" by contemporaries and historians, John Brown would gain an infamous reputation where he and his followers would attack pro-slavery settlers and murdering them. He would finally gain national fame when in 1859 he would attempt to ignite a slave rebellion in the United States by seizing the armory of Harper's Ferry. He would be foiled, ironically by future Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and JEB Stuart. Also at his subsequent hanging Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson would be present.
John Brown had pushed the south the brink, southern states where now seriously talking about succession. However the final straw would be when in 1860 Republican-nominee, Abraham Lincoln, would win the Presidency. Although Lincoln was open about his beliefs that slavery was immoral compared to his fellow party members he was a moderate. Lincoln even made statements that he wouldn't free any slaves in his administration if he didn't have to. However it was to late for Southerners this was it, they had felt they lost their voice in the government and before Lincoln was even inaugurated seven southern states (South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida) would declare their succession from the United States and form the Confederate States of America. When Lincoln called for a militia force of 70,000 to help put down the rebellion four more would join (Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee). The states would form the Confederate States of America and elect Senator Jefferson Davis. Civil War was unavoidable.
In Europe each country had almost their own reasons for going to war. After the apparent success of the Maryland Campaign, Great Britain recognized the CSA as an independent nation and when the US government refused to back down from threats of war, Great Britain declared war on the United States. Great Britain declared war on the United States on November 18th, 1861 and recognized the Confederacy as an independent nation. France, under Napoleon III, declared war as well but just wanted to secure the French-installed Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I and felt that Confederate victory would best help that, this soon drew the Second Mexican Empire in as well
Prussia and Italy went to war for the same reason. Prussia, primarily Chancellor Otto Von Bismark, wanted to unite the several Germanic states into a single, Prussia-dominated, German Empire. The Kingdom of Two Sicilies wanted to unite the several Italian kingdoms and felt that a Franco-Austrian defeat would best assist in a united Italy.
Russia went to war to avenge its defeat in the Crimean War and 10 years it once again appeared that war between Russia, Great Britain, and France seemed likely once again. However with British and French forces occupied fighting in America, war now looked more favorable to Russia. On December 10th Russian and American representatives would form the Russo-American Alliance Treaty, the nucleus of what would become the Grand Triumverate.
Austria went to war to curtail the growing Prussian-influence on the Germanic-kingdoms and because Prussia refused to join the German Confederation in declaring war on America. Finally the Ottomans, similar to Russia, wanted revenge for the Crimean War and also wanted to build-good relations with Britain and France to help stop the decline of the empire.
North American Theater
Because of the fierce resistance of a few initial Confederate forces at Manassas, Virginia in July 1861, a march by Union troops under the command of Major General McDowell on the Confederate forces there was halted in the First Battle of Bull Run, McDowell's troops were forced back to Washington D.C., by the Confederates under the command of Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T Beauregard. It was in this battle that Confederate General Thomas Jackson received the name of "Stonewall" because he stood like a stone wall against Union troop.
After the debacle at Bull Run Maj. Gen George B. McClellan took command of the Union Army of the Potomac on July 26 and the war began in earnest in 1862. Upon the strong urging of President Lincoln to begin offensive operations, McClellan attacked Virginia in the spring of 1862 by way of the peninsula between the York and James Rivers, southeast of Richmond. Although McClellan's army reached the gates of Richmond in the Peninsula Campaign Johnston halted his advance at the Battle of Seven Pines then General Robert E. Lee defeated McClellan in the Seven Days Battle and forced his retreat. The Northern Virginia Campaign, which included the Second Battle of Bull Run, ended in yet another victory for the South. McClellan resisted General-in-Chief Halleck's orders to send reinforcements to John Pope's Union Army of Virginia, which made it easier for Lee's Confederates to defeat twice the number of combined enemy troops.
Encouraged by the success of the recent victories, despite setbacks in the West, General Lee began formulating plans for an invasion of the North. His reasons for doing this was because one he didn't think the C.S. could win by constantly throwing back Union advance, two hoped that decisive victory over the U.S. on its own soil would have the Union public force the government to capitulate, and three assumed, wrongly, that his soldiers would be welcomed as liberators by the state of Maryland. The campaign would begin in early September.
In early September the Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac, beginning one of the most famous campaigns of the whole war. Lee divided his army into various parts sending them into all sorts of directions to achieve certain objectives. McClellan, cautious as usual, kept most of the his army in one place despite urgings from President Lincoln to do so.
The two armies would clash at the Battle of Fredrick, Here McClellan would once again be beaten by the the Army of the Northern Virginia. The defeat had forced the Army of the Potomac to retreat into Pennsylvania to properly regroup, leaving Washington vulnerable to Confederate attack.
With the latest in a string of victories, the British government recognized the Confederacy as independent nation just three days after hearing of the victory. France, under Napoleon III quickly followed. Hoping to avoid war with the U.S., British Prime Minster, Viscount Palmerston, offered to mediate an armistice between the two nations, however President Lincoln refused saying no European nation has a right to intervene in that of America's private affairs, invoking the Monroe Doctrine. However in secret Lincoln was negotiating with the Russian Empire to ally with the United States against Britain which led to his stubbornness when he sent his reply to the British government.
Despite the new alliance with Russia the war still weighed heavily in the Confederacy's favor. After the Battle of Fredrick Lee quickly captured the Ohio-Baltimore Railroad Station and effectively cut off both Washington and Baltimore from the outside world. Lee could now go for either city. Lee and his staff were divided over the issue of what city to take. General Longstreet wanted to head to Baltimore which was undefended and to use as a base for the army but much of the rest of the staff, mainly Generals Jackson and Stuart wanted to head to Washington believing that the capture of the capital would force the capitulation of the north. Lee chose D.C.. hoping to avoid more bloodshed.
The Siege of Washington D.C. began on September 20th with Lee's troops assaulting the Union Forts surrounding the capital. However Lee had vastly underestimated the defenses of the city and his attacks were repulsed with the Confederates suffering heavy losses. Finally after a second failed assault Lee ended his siege of Washington and would move his efforts, to the less defended city of Baltimore, which was quickly captured.
Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, the Army of the Potomac had been reformed and now under the command of General Joseph Hooker was poised for another go with Lee. Hooker moved quickly once the army had been regrouped and marched for Baltimore immediately.
Once again Lee now faced a dilemma that divided his staff over the next course of action. Gen. Jackson vouched for an offensive counter-attack against the Union Army. However Gen. Longstreet vouched for a defensive style battle with the Confederate army remaining in protected positions and letting the Union slam into their defenses and bleeding the Union army dry. Lee, never one to sit around, took up Jackson's plan and marched to meet General Hooker in Pennsylvania.
The two armies met at the Battle of Union Hills. The battle ultimately was a draw for the two armies as the Union army had managed to beat back the Confederate army but Confederate army managed to stave off a Union counter-attack while making a tactical retreat. Nevertheless the Union papers and government lauded it as the first great victory of the Union, despite repeated victories in the west. The successful defense of D.C. along with the victory at Union Hills finally gave President Lincoln the victories he needed to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. The Army of Northern Virginia would retreat back to Virginia to lick its wounds and let the upcoming winter set in to forestall the coming Union invasion.