Clarence Potter
Fictional Character
Southern Victory
POD: September 10, 1862
Appearance(s): American Front
In at the Death
Type of Appearance: Direct (POV, The Center Cannot Hold onward)
Nationality: Confederate States
Religion: Agnostic
Date of Birth: c. 1886
Occupation: Soldier, Private Investigator, Spy, Terrorist, Author of Non-Fiction
Military Branch: Confederate States Army (Great War, Second Great War)
Political Party: Whig Party

Clarence Potter (b. c. 1886) was a Confederate States Army Intelligence officer in the Great War, the Confederate Army's head of Intelligence during the Second Great War, and a relatively consistent enemy of Jake Featherston, although, for the good of his country, Potter ultimately supported President Featherston. He gained notoriety during the Second Great War by sneaking into Philadelphia, the de facto capital of the United States, and detonating the first North American superbomb in the city.

Early life[]

Although a patriotic citizen of the Confederate States, Potter received his education from Yale in the United States as his parents were traders and worked both sides of the border. The "Damnyankee" accents and speech patterns he acquired while he was there were put to great use in his later career as a spy, but they also tended to make fellow Confederates a bit suspicious of him.

It was during his tenure in the United States that Potter first saw a Remembrance Day parade which terrified him; the outpouring of mixed sorrow and hatred towards the CSA made him quickly realize that one day the USA was going to get revenge on the CSA and wouldn't stop until it succeeded.

The Great War and first meeting with Jake Featherston[]

During the Great War, Potter, a Major in the Army of Northern Virginia's Intelligence Corps, investigated the brewing Red Rebellion by the Confederacy's blacks. His investigation brought him to Captain Jeb Stuart III of the First Richmond Howitzers, and his black servant Pompey. Potter also first met Jake Featherston, a sergeant in the Howitzers. Featherston convinced Potter to investigate Pompey, but Stuart used his family's influence to keep Pompey safe.

When the Rebellion did break out, Potter proved that Pompey was a Red and told Stuart that he would never advance in the army. Stuart let himself die in combat out of shame. His father, Jeb Stuart Jr., saw to it that both Potter and Featherston did not advance for the remainder of the war.

Potter retained a close, if unfriendly, relationship with Featherston throughout the rest of the war. Potter perceived the great anger and thirst for vengeance and power at Featherston's core very early on, particularly after both were informed that their careers had prematurely plateaued.

It was Potter who suggested to Featherston the title for his book of memoirs and political invective, Over Open Sights, which Featherston started during the war though it was only completed and published much later.

Interwar years[]

With the war over and lost, Potter along with many other soldiers and officers, was demobilized from the army. At a loose end, Potter used his knowledge and skills to become a private investigator in Charleston.

When Featherston and the Freedom Party began to gain power in the aftermath of the Confederacy's defeat, it came as little surprise to Potter. He made the acquaintance of Roger Kimball, an ex-submersible captain and for a time they had the idea that as intelligent men, they could control Featherston.

Featherston, however, soon proved to be beyond this sort of control and Potter quickly saw that the Freedom Party was little more than a platform for disgruntled ex-soldiers and thugs. As a stalwart member of the Whig Party, he advocated adopting Freedom Party tactics to break up political meetings and rallies, although was often voted down. After the drubbing in the 1923 elections, Potter ran into Kimball and gloated over his Party's defeat. This led to a brawl between the two men, Potter definitely coming off worst.

During this time period, Potter had brief a relationship with South Carolina political force Anne Colleton. Colleton had backed Featherston early in the 1920s, but after the assassination of President Wade Hampton V, Colleton had returned to the Whigs. Potter's relationship with her ended after Colleton bolted back to the Freedom Party, when the Party regained legitimacy and power during the Great Depression.

Potter remained with the Whigs throughout the Depression and even after Featherston was elected president and began to suppress dissenters. He knew enough to lay low and was not one of the active opponents to be arrested.[1] His stubborn refusal to back Featherston made him a pariah and made his detective work more difficult.[2]

Apprehensive of Featherston and where he would take the country, Potter planned to assassinate him during the 1936 Olympics in Richmond, though such an assassination would have likely entailed Potter's own death. Ironically, he instead saved Featherston's life when a another would-be assassin, a black man panicked by Featherston's policy on race, fired point-blank at Featherston with a sub-machine gun although somehow missed and sprayed bullets into the crowd. Potter shot and killed the man, becoming a hero instead of an assassin.[3]

C.S.A. Head of intelligence[]

Featherston was rightfully suspicious of Potter's initial intentions for that day. However, Potter's heroic status, combined with Featherston's knowledge of Potter's intelligence and competence, led Featherston take the radical step of sparing Potter's life and offered Potter the position of Colonel in the C.S.A. Army Intelligence. This would both make use of Potter's talents and put him where Featherston could keep an eye on him.[4]

Aside from such considerations, Potter was virtually the only person left who knew Featherston from before he became a party leader and dictator - which created a special bond between them, in spite of their enmity, and made it possible for Featherston to speak more frankly with Potter than with anyone else.

For his part, Potter gratefully accepted this sudden reversal since he remained a patriot and felt he could still do useful work for his country. Moreover, Whigs who stubbornly retained their party allegiance were likely to be arrested and kept under horrible conditions, though the party was never formally outlawed.

Potter's work in the War Department was to recruit Confederates who could speak and sound like Yankees and place them as spies in the U.S. Part of the work was to conduct back-ground checks to verify their stories and make sure they were not actually reporting to the U.S. War Department. Another part of his duties was to study U.S. newspapers and other publications to deduce troop and warship movements along with what was manufactured where. Potter realized just how shrewd Featherston was since such intellectual puzzles kept him interested and loyal to the country, if not the President.[5]

As time went on, Potter began to respect how Featherston was reviving the C.S.A. as a major power in the world and how so many others continued to underestimate the tenacity of Featherston time and time again.[6] He also renewed his relationship with Anne Colleton, herself on somewhat shaky ground with Featherston. They stayed together until her death.[7] It was years after her death, however, before Potter would acknowledge that she was the only woman he'd ever loved.

Potter was one of the few senior officials that realized that whatever the CSA could do, the USA could do the same to them. He wrote up his concerns in a memorandum and sent it up the chain of command. A few days later he received an angry telephone call from Featherston. Fortunately, the President was angry at the situation and not Potter. He offered to promote Potter to brigadier general and put him in charge of Counterintelligence. Potter reluctantly turned down the job and the promotion since he wanted to do onto the USA and not defend. Featherston surprised him again, by promoting him anyway and putting him in charge of Intelligence, replacing General Stanley McGillivray.[8]

Second Great War[]

In the Second Great War, Potter continued in Intelligence, but thought that the U.S. could do the same to the C.S. He thought of a ploy to find such spies and succeeded finding one that had been in place in the C.S. Army since before the Great War.

He also came up with the idea of dressing Confederate soldiers who spoke with U.S. accents in U.S. army uniforms, and sending them behind U.S. lines. This plan caused a great deal of trouble for the U.S. Army during Operation Coalscuttle. He also identified a number of prominent and troublesome US Officers who should be targeted for assassination, top of the list being General Irving Morrell.

However, in the aftermath of the Battle of Pittsburgh, which proved disastrous for the C.S., Potter's faith in Featherston waned. He was approached by Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest III, Chief of Staff for the C.S. Army, convinced that Featherston was no longer rational, subtly suggested the removal of Featherston and the Freedom Party from power. Potter initially refused to join Forrest, but his own doubts about Featherston led him to reconsider Forrest's proposal.

Those tentative plans were put on hold as U.S. General Morrell, flush from the success of Operation Rosebud, began his drive for the heart of the Confederacy. Featherston first directed Potter to light a fire under the uranium bomb project spear-headed by Henderson V. FitzBelmont. After pushing to the best of his ability, Potter was then shipped to the front, where he participated in actual combat for the first time in his life.

In the field, he repeatedly butted heads with General George Patton, whom Potter perceived as foolishly squandering the C.S.'s limited and precious resources in futile offensive attacks. Viewing Potter as insubordinate, Patton challenged him to a duel. Potter shrewdly chose flame-throwers as the weapon, effectively defusing the conflict for the time being.

However, by the end of 1943, Potter had had enough of Patton's waste of human beings, and refused to lead a corps against the U.S. forces located at Marietta and Lawrenceville, Georgia. He was immediately replaced by Brigadier General Russell. Upon his return to Richmond, Nathan Bedford Forrest III again approached Potter about possibly removing Featherston from office. Potter, angered by Forrest's hypocritical reversal, rebuked him (Forrest's subsequent attempt was a disorganized failure). More fundamentally, Potter came to the conclusion that the weary and vengeful US intended to completely crush the Confederacy, and that replacing Featherston with another leader would not change that intention. Therefore, Featherston was the only man capable of somehow salvaging victory from the jaws of defeat.

In 1944, Potter commanded a small convoy including a truck containing the CSA's only superbomb, and managed to get it to Philadelphia. This convoy, along with its personnel, were disguised in U.S. colors and uniforms. The bomb detonated on the outskirts of the city. Potter and his subordinates managed to escape the U.S. manhunt and return to the C.S.

Post-war and retirement[]

Potter was with Featherston when the plane carrying several Confederate officials crashed in Madison, Georgia and witnessed Featherston's death at the hands of Cassius. Potter was charged with violating the laws of war by using U.S. uniforms in the attack on Philadelphia, but a magnanimous testimony from U.S. General Irving Morrell that the U.S. had done the same thing in Chattanooga the previous year forced the reluctant judges to rule for Potter's acquittal. However, Potter was warned that he would be under surveillance for the rest of his life.

After his release, Potter returned to Richmond. He began writing his memoirs, which were entitled How I Blew Up Philadelphia. He also had a fateful encounter with an angry, former C.S. soldier. Potter had heard the man's rants before, from Jake Featherston. Potter gently advised the young soldier to go on with his life, start a family, and forget his hate, pointing out that the US had won decisively, and in Potter's view would not hesitate to use a superbomb to crush any revolt in the occupied Confederacy.

See also[]

Parallelism in Southern Victory#Clarence Potter


  1. The Victorious Opposition, pgs. 95-99, hc.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 1-5.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 141-145.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 145-146.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 221-223.
  6. Ibid., pgs. 283-284.
  7. Ibid., pgs. 352-353.
  8. Ibid., pgs. 464-467.