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The Wars of William Washburn, also known as the New England Wars, or the Conquest of New England, were a series of conflicts fought by William B. Washburn of Worcester against dozens of nation states in the New England region to conquer and unite much of the known area. Washburn would created the Grand Presidency of New England, becoming the first and only Grand President of New England, centered in the city of Worcester, and later Boston. Washburn would become one of the most successful military commanders since the chaos, undefeated in battle, and extremely successful in his military conquests.
During the chaos the former states of New England's manufacturing and industrial capabilities collapsed, with many factories and manufacturers being reduced to rubble. Over the first few years of the chaos much of New England's military power would also be expended, with naval and army units of the former United States military being disbanded or destroyed.
By the mid to late nineteenth century many of New England's remaining inhabitants of major urban areas such as Boston fled north into the less populated and rural Vermont and New Hampshire. Old cities had become major centers of disease, with war-torn districts and destruction helping to weaken citizens in the long run. Cities were often heavily fought over using the last remnants of old world technology, making them very dangerous targets for attacks and conflicts. By the late nineteenth century the city of Boston, once New England's largest city, was heavily damaged and ruined. The civilian population unable or unwilling to flee eventually replaced the city's former bombed out brick buildings with wooden apartment complexes and shacks, which were prone to fires in the crowded and congested districts. Livestock on the outskirts of the city, which had been heavily stockpiled during the chaos by warlords and military personnel, eventually broke free in many places, roaming the city's uninhabited regions, feasting on the city's parks and overgrowth.
The city of Boston that existed by the end of the chaos is believed to have been entirely from new materials within the former city of Boston. Many houses would be constructed in the city's former roads, hoping to use the brick for foundations. This would create many twisting and crowded streets and alleys. Crime was prevalent in the city, with criminals utilizing the dark, confusing streets to corner victims. The occupation of scavenger also became popular in the outskirts of the city, with many harvesting building materials from former city landmarks to construct new projects.
Similar destruction occurred in other major cities across the region, with a large portion of the population being killed from war, disease, and famine, and another portion of the population migrating to the outskirts of cities or further north to pursue an agrarian lifestyle or escape the destruction. With food short following the lack of imports from the rest of the former United States, many in the New England region starved, especially in big cities during the winter months of the year during the chaos.
In the later half of the chaos and the early years after, migrating families concentrated in a series of locations, forming the basis of modern urban areas. The first major towns arose around wealthy patrons who were able to establish their manor as a well fortified and well defensible focal point. Many migrating New England inhabitants were attracted to these manors, finding protection from the chaos among the private armies of these wealthy patrons. In order to supply each manor, their settlers became farmers, creating new fields across New England. Eventually manors' owners would become landed lords and royalty, laying the foundation for a feudal society, with stronger lords eventually uniting several major settlements.
A series of isolated nation states arose across New England's less densely populated areas, eventually creating the basis of ethnic identities. Groups of towns cut off from another from lack of trade and communication would create complex communities and diplomatic relationships, hindering any attempt to unify the region under one banner.
The first conflict in New England would arise from the heavy migration following the chaos and subsequent settlement of nomad people. In Massachusetts many nation states came to overlap, causing bloody struggles over valuable resources and land. Towns in this area would also be prone to raids from nomadic people fleeing Boston and other major cities, which often raided smaller less well defended towns for supplies. Out of necessity towns became heavily fortified, usually centered around a central hold or keep, or any large gathering area easily defended. For the first time feudal lords would also create a levy system to muster forces from the fields to defend their territory and fight with neighboring areas. Equipment and weaponry during this time period would be provided by the lords. A westward road from Boston would arise, running along ancient roads from before the Chaos, marking the path of refugees, but at the same time connecting each city state with a usable but derelict road system. Despite the presence of this network, trade was scarce, with each hold preferring to work independently and not risk contact with outside powers or possibly hostile forces.
Settlers fleeing north from Boston and Massachusetts eventually overwhelmed native New Hampshire inhabitants in the south of the state. The struggle between native northerners and the immigrating settlers would eventually boil over into a series of conflicts. Several major towns and cities in New Hampshire, such as Nashua, would be briefly owned or invaded by Massachusetts nations over the course of its post chaos history, eventually creating a culture of Bostonian and local ideals known as Bay Culture. The Bay inhabitants would spread to the city of Boston, Portsmouth, and southern New Hampshire, heavily influenced by a lifestyle dependent on the Massachusetts Bay.
The first major conflict between Bay Staters and native New Hampshire arose in the town of Nashua, a town crowded with fleeing settlers and native peoples alike. Its position north of Boston and its less defensible fortifications compared to Manchester or Merrimack made the town a prized target for many raiding parties and groups from Massachusetts. n 1877 a large Bay Stater faction recently pushed out of the south marched on Nashua. The group was under the command of John Fayerweather, an unlanded lord seeking to carve a Bay state in New Hampshire and establish an independent nation for his posterity.
Fayerweather surrounded the town, waiting several days before launching his main assault. During this period skirmishers in the invading army did battle against small contingents of forces, raiding farms on the edge of the town and killing as many native New Hampshire inhabitants as possible. On 19 April 1877 the Battle of Nashua began, with Fayerweather leading his army in a direct assault of the town's levies. The native army was almost entirely untrained peasants, lightly clothed and armed with makeshift or cheap weaponry. Although possessing high mobility, the inexperience of the native troops made them an overall crude and unrefined army. On the other hand Fayerweather's forces consisted of a small percentage of soldiers from Massachusetts, supported by Bay Stater raiders and peasants. The invaders did possess on average higher degrees of training, although lacked proper training as cohesive units. Although experienced in battle Fayerweather's troops had yet to achieve any real major victories, leaving Fayerweather himself untested.
The assault on Nashua began in mid morning, with Fayerweather's forces charging toward the town with the Merrimack River on their right flank. The native soldiers were largely shattered at first by the charge, but managed to hold the line and delay the advance. The natives would also attempt a flank from the west, however Fayerweather's most experienced and well trained soldiers guarded the flank, defeating the west detachment. Fayerweather ordered his men to pursue the fleeing detachment west back into the city, eventually causing the remaining native forces to rout.
Having decisively defeated the native New Hampshire inhabitants, Fayerweather marched triumphantly into the city. That night looting and pillaging ensued, although Fayerweather ordered the pillaging be kept light, as he hoped he could eventually assimilate the natives and establish the town as a prosperous center for his forces to settle. Fayerweather's army, accompanied by an elaborate wagon train of civilians and livestock, settled in the outskirts of the town. Nashua would rise to become the first major Bay Stater nation in the south of New Hampshire, and would spend much of its existence fighting against cities such as Manchester to survive.
By the late nineteenth century the strongest nation in the chaos-ridden New England became the Governorship of Worcester. Created through years of conquest and constant war, led by William B. Washburn, a former politician before the chaos. It is believed at some point after the chaos Washburn was elected or selected through divine right to be dictator for life, but struggling to defend the city of Boston, ordered it be abandoned. The city of Boston would ultimately collapse, and Washburn rode out of the city with one of the region's largest armies. They marched west, laying siege to the city of Worcester. The city was in a similar state to Boston, but with numerous factions fighting for control in the city. It is theorized that Washburn possessed advanced weaponry since lost to time, including a device capable of "channeling the wrath of god". Washburn's large army quickly forced the surrender of the city, and once inside he ordered the execution of all dissidents.
Believing Washburn to be some prophet of god, or some divine being, many flocked to his city, or surrendered their town to him with little fight. In 1879 Washburn received word however that the city of Cambridge, which had developed a technology oriented society, questioned this notion of right to rule. Washburn marched immediately on the city, razing most of it to the ground. The intellectuals in the city were killed, and the great library that the city had gathered, was burned.
With much of central Massachusetts secured, Washburn marched on Providence, the capital of a unified presidency consisting of much of the surrounding area. Isolated and cut off from much of the surrounding area, Providence held a series of strong defenses, as well as a long army and navy, which Washburn sought to capture.
On 25 March 1879 Washburn engaged against Providence forces outside the town of Uxbridge. The Providence forces had attempted to cut off Washburn's supply lines while marching east, causing Washburn to counter march his forces south toward Uxbridge.
Initially, Washburn selected what appeared to be unfavorable ground, taking the Providence forces by surprise, who then elected to hold their position, while Washburn's infantry took up defensive positions. Unknown to them Washburn personally led his best cavalry against the Providence left up against the hills, and cut up the enemy on the less encumbering terrain and thereby generating a quick rout. After achieving a breakthrough on the left, Washburn managed to direct the difficult task of keeping the cavalry in check while engaged on the Providence flank. Washburn then led a direct assault against the enemey. The Providence troops, realizing they had lost, either surrendered or fled with their hapless leaders. Washburn's cavalry pursued the fleeing forces for as long as there was light. Remaining forces on the battlefield were pursued and slaughtered, as Washburn marched into the town.
Providence forces from across the nation fell back toward the city to defend against Washburn's attack, creating a large defense force. The siege lasted for two months, with the forces inside finally succumbing to a direct assault on 1 June 1879. In exchange for sparing the inhabitants, the military of the city swore fealty to Washburn, pledging to fight for him. Providence's leaders however were executed.
To earn the trust of the captured and refitted Providence units, Washburn next marched on New Bedford, Providence's sworn enemy and rival. With a large navy at his command, Washburn ordered a naval assault of the area. Knowing well that a direct confrontation with the entire New Bedford navy would be a costly battle, the Providence ships were ordered to raid trade ships and smaller vessels, harassing the enemy ships and trade routs as much as possible. His navy and a few units of infantry launched an assault on Edgartown, taking the island of Martha's Vineyard after a swift siege. This drew much of the New Bedford navy away from the city, and when Washburn surrounded New Bedford he was able to take the city.
With the fall of the city on 28 June 1879, much of the remaining navy and surrounding towns surrendered to Washburn. The remnants of the New Bedford navy had fled to Nantucket, engaging in a deadly battle on the high seas against Edgartown, while the port of Falmouth and the surrounding coast still needed to be pacified. Past that to the east, the now hostile Governorship of Cape Cod pledged support against Washburn. On 1 July 1879 Washburn besieged the town of Wareham, receiving its surrender four days later. With its navy at his disposal, Washburn marched east. On 7 July Washburn engaged with Cape soldiers and remnants of the New Beford at the Battle of Bourne. The Cape soldiers believed that by mobilizing quickly they could trap Washburn in the small entrance into Cape Cod, as well as stop him before reaching Falmouth.
Washburn was outnumbered, but his enemy was also less organized and possessed no cavalry. The Cape forces selected the field of battle, positioning themselves with their best infantry in the center. Washburn began the battle by ordering his infantry to march in forward in formation towards the center of the enemy line. The Cape forces attempted to cut off this march, but were cut off by Washburn's cavalry and routed. Washburn, while leading the charge, formed his units into a giant wedge, which quickly smashed right into the weakened Cape center. Believing their leader had been killed, the Cape forces panicked, and their line eventually collapsed. The Cape forces fled east and south, now forced to make a defense against Washburn's invasion.
The naval forces on Nantucket headed west attempting to intercept part of Washburn's navy during the Battle of Falmouth. One of Washburn's largest ships however had been outfitted with "Massachusetts Fire", some sort of unknown device capable of starting fire on enemy ships. The Nantucket navy moved around Martha's Vineyard, arriving north of the Vineyard Sound Harbor, where they engaged with a small local force. Washburn's navy arrived, engaging trapping the enemy there on the northern point of the island. In the Battle of West Chop, Washburn's forces successfully annihilated the Nantucket navy, taking moderate casualties themselves. Massachusetts Fire had proven to be a deadly weapon, incinerating several ships, although damaging the prototype ship to some degree. With Nantucket silent, the navy headed north to engage Falmouth from the sea.
Meanwhile on land Washburn had led his forces south, receiving the surrender of numerous communities as he advanced toward Falmouth. Light fighting ensued along the coast, but most of the enemy force was marched immediately into Falmouth to set up a defense. On 16 July 1879 Washburn arrived in the city, beginning a siege. Supported by sea, the city was easily bombarded, and after days of fighting the defending forces' morale dropped heavily. The defenders decided to make one last assault against Washburn, marching outside the city and engaging his flank. Washburn quickly reacted, wrapping his forces around the attack and cutting off the defenders. The remaining force was now separated, with a detachment in the fort of Woods Hole, which protected the Great Harbor and the route toward Martha's Vineyard, and the other half in Falmouth Heights.
Washburn launched an assault into the city, surrounding the keep and finally forcing its surrender on 30 July 1879. Woods Hole would be taken two days later by sea. With the fall of Falmouth, Washburn effectively controlled all of western Cape Cod, causing the final collapse of the Governorship of New Bedford. The Cape forces fled east toward Yarmouth and Barnstable. Washburn continued his advance east, first assaulting Barnstable. The Cape forces put up a costly defense, hoping to defend their capital. On 14 August 1879 the Governor of Cape Cod launched an attack to try and push Washburn out of the city, but would be slain in battle.
The Governorship fragmented, with Barnstable being captured, and a remnant of its government fleeing for Provincetown, a town loyal to the governor's family. Yarmouth and a few other towns fragmented into their individual counties, having no choice but to defend for themselves. Yarmouth, the last major city in resistance on the cape surrendered on 29 August after a brief siege. Washburn then advanced east into Brewster and then the narrow cape in the east. Now blockaded on land, Provincetown was then surrounded by sea, falling to Washburn's navy on 8 September.
In Septemeber Washburn left Cape Cod, having successfully won the Cape Campaign. He headed west, next marching on the town of Plymouth, which had initially supported New Bedford and the Cape economically in their defense against him. Washburn had his attention set on the city of Boston, and sought to capture it to give legitimacy to his reign. The city of Plymouth, which Washburn viewed as a holy and historical city, would also be essential, and Washburn planned to march north from the city all the way to Boston.
Much of the region between Wareham and Plymouth would be raided by Washburn, capturing valuable supplies to fuel his advance and heavily demoralizing the Plymouth defenders. On 20 September the city fell to Washburn, and became the starting point of the march north. At least four local chiefs resisted Washburn, the most predominant being the leader of Quincy, who had just recently conquered the city from the many fighting factions outside Boston. Rather than risk separate sieges against them, the independent towns of the coast organized into a loose confederacy under Richard Fennessy, pooling their allied armies to fight Washburn on a united front. The army was slow to mobilize and was very disorganized, with many local forces retaining petty grudges and disputes with neighboring towns.
Washburn used the disorganized nature of the local forces against them, targeting their leaders. Washburn knew that if the leader of the confederacy fell each army would return to its primitive, separate form. At the Battle of Kingston a small detachment was sent by Washburn to Silver Lake, which would then attack from the north, surrounding the confederacy's army. After a brief battle the defenders attempted to abandon the city and retreat north to a more defensible position, but were cut off by Washburn's advanced troops. In the ensuing chaos Fennessy would be thrown from his horse and killed, causing the confederate army to fall apart. For their resistance, Washburn ordered the execution of most of the army, and Kingstown was occupied. Losing the majority of its army, the coastal cities surrendered, with the last resisting city being Quincy.
Washburn arrived at the outskirts of Quincy of 28 September, and wished to capture Boston by winter. The forces of Quincy, under the command of Governor Thomas Laforest marched outside the city to the edge of his territory, engaging Washburn directly. The battle proved to be tough, as both sides were adequately experienced and organized. As Laforest charged on Washburn to the east, a secondary army under Washburn arrived from the south, engaging Laforest on two sides. Eventually Washburn managed to close the gap between the city, trapping Laforest on all sides. Laforest fell back and made a last stand between the Weymouth Back River and the Towns River Bay. Him and his loyal forces would be slaughtered on the edge of the water, with the victorious Washburn advancing into Quincy.
Battle of Boston
The people of Quincy were quelled by Washburn's forces, and his army would spend a few weeks there preparing for the invasion of Boston. With the city of Boston now right before him, Washburn marched against the city on 20 November 1879. The city was in disorder with multiple factions fighting for power. Most city districts had their own allegiances and their own armies, which fought in the crowded and destroyed city streets. The Siege of Boston would take three months of urban fighting, including a siege to take the inside keep, which alone would take a few weeks. By December 1879 Washburn was able to secure the southern portions of the city and create his own fortifications, allowing his soldiers a fort to garrison. The largest fort would be in the former campus of the University of Massachusetts-Boston, which was built up with walls and other defenses.
In early 1880 the Siege of Fort Port concluded, with Washburn capturing the eastern section of Boston. A deadly fight to take Boston proper then ensued, ending with the securing of the city as far as the Charles River by the end of January. In late January and early February Washburn crossed the Charles River, relieving a siege of allied Cambridge and taking back the surrounding area. Marching north from Cambridge, Somerville would fall by 9 February. One of the last remaining major enemies of Washburn would be Mayor Daniel Keefe of Chelsea, who prepared to defend his territory at all costs. The Mayor's army would be positioned on the banks of the surrounding rivers, prepared to attack any attempted crossing. Washburn sent a portion of his military to capture Revere and surround the Mayor's holdings, traveling along the east bank of the Chelsea. Outnumbered and cut off from the main force further south, Washburn's advanced forces would spend two weeks wrapping around Chelsea. Surrounded by Everett and Revere, the detachment was suffering heavy casualties in the advance.
Washburn had no choice but to send forces across the river toward Everett. His infantry upon arriving on the shore charged against a detachment of scouting enemy forces from Everett, chasing them away and allowing Washburn to advance toward Everett. At the Battle of Everett Washburn would meet the main defending army and connect his detachment back to his main army. After a brief battle which routed the Everett army, the commander in Everett would surrender, allowing Washburn to march on Chelsea. Caught off guard by the attack, Chelsea was easily surrounded and crushed, with Keefe being killed in the final push into the Chelsea Square.
With much of Boston now under his control, on 11 March 1880 Washburn was crowned Grand President of New England in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, beginning the Grand Presidency of New England. Leaving a garrison in Boston, Washburn marched back home to Worcester, which he established as his capital, and began planning further unification of his empire. Washburn hoped to unify the known world, creating an empire reaching as far north as Maine to Connecticut, and would spend the rest of his life fighting to achieve this goal.
On 18 April Washburn departed from Worcester, departing for Southbridge, the southern most major town under his control in Massachusetts. He planned to subjugate the region of Connecticut, which at the time consisted of a number of powerful but disunited governorships. First he marched south into the Governorship of Norwich, which controlled as far north as Woodstock. Washburn would pass through a number of farming towns which surrendered with little to no resistance, allowing Washburn to quickly advance south. On 25 April Washburn was attacked by Count Abel Forsyth of Plainsfield just a few miles outside the town. The attack came as a surprise and initially Forsyth was able to inflict moderate casualties against Washburn's forces. Since Washburn's forces were still in marching formations, they were unable to maneuver or prepare. Washburn quickly called his men to fall back. By the time Forsyth was able to organize his forces much of Washburn's forces had pulled back, and by the time he was able to pursue, Washburn was more prepared for battle. Forsyth's lines were readily attacked, with both sides suffering casualties. Washburn's forces, being more experienced and well trained, were eventually able to overtake the mostly peasant army, causing Forsyth to retreat. Plainsfield was abandoned and later taken by the advancing invaders, with Forsyth retreating to Jewett City.
By this time an army under the command of the Governorship had been ordered north from Norwich, meeting up with regional armies from Jewett City, Voluntown, and Forsyth's fleeing army. The Norwich forces thought it best to defend the Pachaug River and the many waterways surrounding Jewett City, and at the ensuing Battle of the Pachaug Crossing, put up a commendable defense. Spread thin however, the defending lines would eventually be penetrated by the invaders, causing routs throughout. A large detachment of Washburn's army entered Clayville and the northern outskirts of the Jewett City, defending the hill from assaults on all sides from defenders on the Quinebaug River and the Ashland Pond. Skirmishers would also cross the Hopeville Pond on the east, eventually causing the defenders to flee.
Washburn followed the Quinebaug River on its eastern shore, passing through Preston after a brief skirmish. On 27 April Washburn was at the doorstep of Norwich. His main army had followed the river, arriving south of Norwich, while a secondary army had crossed several miles north, engaging a small enemy army at Taftville. The Battle of Taftsville would be a brief battle, with the Norwich forces fleeing south. Eventually all defenders on the river would flee, allowing Washburn's secondary army to advance south and enter Norwich from the north. On 29 April the city fell to Washburn, officially conquering the governorship.