|Southern Victory |
POD: September 10, 1862
In at the Death
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Date of Birth:||1875|
|Military Branch:||United States Army (Great War, Second Great War)|
|Political Office(s):||Military Governor of Utah|
Abner Dowling (b. 1875) was a career member of the United States Army. He served as General George Armstrong Custer's adjutant as a Major during the Great War, he held the rank of colonel while military governor of Utah, and he was a general during the Second Great War. Dowling was quite remarkable for being in the right place at the right time. He was generally considered to have been a very decent human being, if not a particularly talented soldier, especially compared with the flamboyant Custer, or the brilliant Irving Morrell. Even in his own estimation, he was not a "great" general, but he successfully strove to be a "good" one, consciously acting in a manner opposite to Custer.
The Great War and its Aftermath
Dowling's early time as Custer's adjutant provides little hint as to his remarkable career. During that time Dowling developed a strong dislike for his superior. He tried to stop Custer from issuing orders and plans that Dowling knew were mistakes, but most of the time Custer didn't bother to listen. At the time, Dowling even felt that the planned Barrel Roll Offensive of 1917 would be a disaster because of the fact that it was against barrel policy at the time, but it turned out to be the campaign that won the war and smashed the Confederate States. Custer and Dowling were both promoted due to the campaign's stunning success.
After the war, Dowling continued to serve under Custer first in Philadelphia and then when Custer served as governor-general in Canada. He was also in the same car with Custer, during the old man's retirement parade, when Arthur McGregor attempted to assassinate the general by throwing a bomb into the car in August 1922. Custer was able to save both of their lives by throwing the bomb back at its maker.
Once Custer retired, Dowling was promoted to Colonel in accordance with his new post as military governor of Salt Lake City. His time at the helm was spent dealing with the still-vengeful Mormons, though he managed to keep the peace. He was forced to take over as military governor for the entire state of Utah after General John Pershing was assassinated by a Mormon sniper. While in Utah, Dowling met Angelo Toricelli, who became Dowling's adjutant until Dowling retired.
Dowling oversaw the state until U.S. President Al Smith lifted the occupation and gave Utah states' rights again in 1937. Dowling was promoted to Brigadier General and was given command of the troops keeping order in Kentucky and fighting against the Freedom Party rebels. Once the Richmond Agreement was put in place in 1941, General Dowling presided over the plebecites, and oversaw the resulting withdrawal of U.S. forces to the Midwest. Dowling was then assigned to defend Ohio; the War Department generously provided him with plans from before 1914 that made no mention of barrels, aircraft or gas.
The Second Great War
Blackbeard and Defeat
At the beginning of the Second Great War, Dowling's troops bore the brunt of the Confederate offensive called Operation Blackbeard. Undermanned and underarmed, his men were forced to retreat north during the summer of 1941. Dowling was able to protect his flanks, but that was one of the few things that went right for him in the campaign. Despite valiant fighting by troops that were trapped in Columbus and along several major rivers, the U.S. troops failed to halt the Confederate offensive. In Sandusky, the last city before Lake Erie, the C.S.A. succeeded in cutting its northern neighbor in half.
Because of the sheer swiftness of the American defeat, Dowling was investigated by the U.S. Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. For its own reasons, the War Department provided Dowling with damning evidence that Congress had failed to adequately provide the necessary funding for modern weapons and supplies. Despite being cleared by a shaken Committee, Dowling was placed behind a desk for a while. But when the U.S. began to prepare a counter-offensive into Virginia, General Daniel MacArthur offered Dowling the position of corps commander. Dowling accepted, but he began to feel that he was simply serving under a new version of Custer. Dowling was constantly trying to convince MacArthur against striking the Confederates head-on, and went behind his superior's back to derail a proposed landing on Virginia's east coast. The ultimate example of criminal stupidity came in spring 1942: the Battles of Fredericksburg succeeded in gaining little ground and cost thousands of U.S. lives.
Eleventh Army and Camp Determination
After Fredericksburg, Dowling learned that the Confederates were redeploying men from Virginia in preparation for a major offensive elsewhere. Because of this and his proven competence in command, Dowling received a promotion to Major General and was given a command of the Eleventh Army, headquartered in Clovis, New Mexico. The Eleventh Army was little more than a division and a half's worth of men, but they still outnumbered the single Confederate division opposing them. During the autumn, while Irving Morrell was destroying the C.S. army in Pittsburgh, Dowling commenced his own drive into west Texas.
By early 1943, Dowling had learned of Camp Determination. While he realized that capturing the camp would be good propaganda for the U.S. war-effort, Dowling wanted to capture it for humanitarian reasons. Dowling, like most citizens of the U.S., was generally indifferent to the plight of blacks on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. However, concrete evidence of the population reduction galvanized him, and he made capture of the camp his primary goal in Texas. By the end of 1943, he had regained the territory to reconstitute Houston for the U.S., and had overrun Camp Determination. Dowling made a point of bringing in leading citizens of the nearby town of Snyder to show them what their government had done.
With Determination captured, and a major propaganda victory achieved, Dowling was transferred back east and joined Daniel MacArthur in overrunning Virginia and taking Confederate capital of Richmond. Dowling was then assigned to the interrogation of Confederate physicist Henderson V. FitzBelmont, who had succeeded, under tremendous pressure, in building a superbomb before the United States. Dowling learned all he could from FitzBelmont, even of the theoretical use of hydrogen in an explosive device.
The Aftermath: Victory and Retirement
Satisfied that Dowling had extracted everything possible from FitzBelmont, the War Department sent General John Abell to push for Dowling to retire. Although initially humiliated, Dowling realized that he'd been very instrumental in the successes of the United States in two wars. Abell noted that his work significantly changed the moral nature of the war from merely a defense of the United States to a moral crusade against Jake Featherston and his ideology. Thus, Dowling faced retirement with some sense of satisfaction. He contemplated that he might write a memoir.
|Military Governor of Utah
civilian government restored under Heber Young
|Military Governor of Salt Lake City