- Great War redirects here. For other uses, see Great War (Disambiguation)
- For the OTL Great War, see World War I.
|Great War (Southern Victory)|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Theodore Roosevelt|| Woodrow Wilson
The Great War was a war fought among the major powers of Europe and North America from 1914 to 1917. Allies and colonies in other parts of the world ensured that Africa, Asia and South America also became theaters of war. The war began with the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo. The incident led Austria-Hungary to declare war against Serbia, which was supported by Russia. Both Vienna and St. Petersburg invoked strategic military alliance systems across the globe, and the largest war heretofore in human history began.
The Road to the Great War: 1882-1914
Though triggered by a random event, the war was three decades in the making. The United States, shamed by its twin defeats at the hands of the Confederate States and Britain, courted Germany as an ally. In short order, the Quadruple Alliance was formed; Germany, Austria-Hungary, the United States, and Italy.
The Specter of Remembrance in the USA
By 1914 the United States, having borne half a century of humiliation at the hands of the CSA and its European allies, was eager for revenge. Nothing symbolized this so much as Remembrance Day, held each year on April 22, the anniversary of America's defeat in the Second Mexican War. Parades of war veterans and conscription classes would be held in every city, firing the American people with the promise of defeats avenged and glory to come. Though not universal - immigrant centers such as New York City were partially immune to Remembrance fervor - this sentiment ensured that the Democrats held a monopoly on the Presidency between 1884 and 1920.
In an effort to avoid defeat in the expected conflict, the US emulated Imperial Germany in several ways, chiefly the introduction of peacetime conscription and the rationing of key commodities such as coal. The army adopted German-style uniforms (though green-gray in color), officers were trained at German academies, and US-German fleet exercises were common. By the time the war erupted, the United States felt able and ready to take on the CSA and the British Empire.
The Dominance of the Whig Party in the CSA
The Whig Party had held sway over Confederate politics since the nation had won its independence. Composed of the sons and grandsons of the CSA's founding fathers, these gentlemen of means perpetuated the rigid pre-War of Secession social hierarchy that stifled adaptation to a changing world. Feeling certain that the 'damnyankees' would be a pushover in any renewed war, the Whigs felt little need to address the social divide between rich and poor, or white and negro. It was an outlook that would return to haunt them during and after the war.
The Confederate Army, like its northern counterpart, borrowed heavily from its European allies: Britain and France respectively. British-style khaki (called butternut for historical reasons in reference to the titular color used by Confederate troops since 1861) replaced the gray uniforms worn by Lee, Stuart and Jackson's men in the 19th century War of Secession and Second Mexican War, the Tredegar rifle was modeled after the British made Lee-Enfield guns, and its main light artillery piece was a copy of the French Canon de modele 75. Officers were drawn from the ranks of the wealthy elite (descended from planters of old), enlisted men came from the poorer strata of white Confederate society, and Confederate negroes served as laborers who did everything but fight.
The Outbreak of War in Europe and its Spread to America
Despite several border incidents and other clashes (military or otherwise) between US and CS interests, the outbreak of war was due to a seemingly isolated event in a distant corner of Europe. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was blown apart by a Serbian assassin's bomb while touring Sarajevo. The "magic of international alliances" ensured that the crisis became an excuse for long-standing grudges and rivalries to be settled between member-states of the Entente and Alliance.
President Woodrow Wilson of the CSA, taking the position that Serbia was a small nation heroically defying a large tyrant, asked for and received from Congress declarations of war against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Theodore Roosevelt, President of the USA, responded by declaring that the United States would stand by its allies, and initiated hostilities against the Confederacy.
The Eastern Fronts
The greatest battles in North America took place in the more populous east. The CS generals choose an obvious strategy: they threw their weight behind the Army of Northern Virginia's drive toward Philadelphia, the de facto capital of the US. The USA, on the other hand, focused its efforts on Kentucky and to a lesser extent western Virginia. With the exception of the Roanoke Valley, the war in eastern North America saw more movement than the deadlock in France, though the massive concentrations of men on small fronts still resulted in severe casualties on both sides.
The C.S. Drive to Philadelphia
Washington, DC, and most of Maryland were overwhelmed during the CSA's opening offensive, and by September 1914 Confederate soldiers stood upon the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg. At this point the Confederate States General Staff intended to wheel around Baltimore and cut it off while simultaneously placing Philadelphia under their guns.
The U.S. Counterattack through Maryland
The Confederate advance stalled at this point, however, and the US Army was able to build up its forces in the Baltimore pocket. In mid-1915 they were able to launch an attack upon the CS flank. Though the Confederates managed to slow the breakout they were forced out of Pennsylvania. The Army of Northern Virginia would stand upon the defensive for the rest of 1915 and 1916, slowly giving ground to advancing US soldiers. At the end of 1916, the CS had retreated from Maryland and was left only with Washington.
War in the Roanoke Valley
The American assault out of West Virginia commenced as soon as war was declared, with US troops seizing Confederate positions along the Blue Ridge Mountains. When they reached the Roanoke Valley and the transport and mining center of Big Lick, the American advance was halted by Confederate reinforcements and trench lines.
1915 was spent by both nations in fruitless attacks on the other side's defenses. In 1916 first the US and then the Confederate armies used barrels (known as tanks to the British) for the first time, each gaining ground. By the end of the year however the CS had lost just about all of its gains from its summer offensive, but by that point the US seemed content to ignore the Roanoke front in favor of more promising offensives.
The Kentucky Front
The focal point of the US Army in eastern North America was Kentucky. Despite heavy losses to gunboats, the US First Army under General George Armstrong Custer succeeded in establishing a beachhead on the southern bank of the Ohio, fighting its way south for the rest of 1914. Under General John Pershing, the US Second Army conquered Louisville, this time pinching it from the flanks rather than fighting the Confederates directly in the city as General Orlando Willcox had unsuccessfully attempted in the Second Mexican War. Farther east, Covington was taken as well and became a major supply center for the US Army.
Despite suffering heavy losses, the Americans pushed south throughout 1915. In western Kentucky a Confederate counterattack at Hopkinsville and Cadiz failed to halt the US Army for long, and Bowling Green fell into US hands. In late 1915 the first use of chlorine gas in North America resulted in further US advances, though not the hoped-for routing of the Confederates. In eastern Kentucky the Confederates were also pushed back until by the end of the war only the south-eastern corner of the state remained outside US control.
The First and Second Battles of Nashville
By early 1916 the US stood at the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Custer's summer offensive that year was aimed at placing Nashville under American guns; instead US soldiers died in droves trying to force their way through the Highland Rim, as barrels broke down and Confederate trenches proved difficult to overcome.
In the autumn General Daniel MacArthur proposed the radical idea of launching an assault upon the Confederate lines using unprecedented numbers of barrels. Custer agreed to the attack but held back the machines, not because he disagreed with MacArthur's plan but because he didn't want his young subordinate upstaging him. Not surprisingly, the Second Battle of Nashville also ended in defeat for the US.
The Western Fronts
Compared to the titanic struggles back east, the war west of the Mississippi River was a much smaller affair by comparison. As one character quipped, there were too many miles and not enough soldiers. Both sides lacked officers or replacements, extensive wire belts or trench lines, and barrels or other vehicles. Despite this, the United States forces were able to swiftly gain the upper hand on the western fronts due to their greater numbers and resources.
Raiding the Great Plains
Confederate cavalry raids into Kansas sought to destroy railroad lines and telegraph cables; though some of these raids succeeded, Confederate horsemen suffered heavier than expected losses battling armored cars that carried machine guns. By the winter of 1914-15 the US had forced the Confederacy onto the defensive, ending any action in Kansas.
The Sequoyah Front
In 1915 the US army drove deep into Sequoyah. The War Department made the conquest of that state a priority, partly due to its oil deposits but also due to US hatred of Sequoyahs' resident Indian tribes, who had raided Kansas with impunity from the War of Secession until just before the turn of the century.
The Indians felt the same way about the United States, remembering such atrocities as the Trail of Tears. One result of Indian animosity was the Creek Nation Army, formed in 1915 by that tribe from young warriors eager to defend their homeland against the US. Despite professional leadership from white Confederate soldiers, Creek tribal leaders insisted upon futile attacks meant to regain lost Creek territory, resulting in the Creek Nation Army's effective destruction by the end of 1915.
By the autumn of 1916, the Confederate Army and its Indian allies had been forced back to the Red River bottomlands along the Texas border. Despite being reinforced with newly-raised Negro units, Sequoyah was lost to the USA by the end of the war.
The US advance into Texas
After early Confederate successes in New Mexico, these gains were lost by early 1915, and the Army of West Texas remained on the defensive for the remainder of the war. By 1916 Lubbock had fallen, and thereafter the Americans pushed deeper into Texas. The CS soldiers retreated to Dickens, and then to the small hamlet of Grow before the cease-fire in late 1917.
The Arkansas Front
The US assault into Arkansas began in 1915, but swiftly stalled outside of Jonesboro. The advance resumed in early 1917, partly thanks to the extraordinary efforts of an individual US soldier named Gordon McSweeney. Alone, McSweeney stopped a Confederate counter-attack out of Jonesboro by disabling its sole barrel, destroyed a Confederate river monitor that was holding his men up, and led the penetration of Confederate defenses in Craighead Forest. By the war's end, Memphis lay under American guns.
The Fourth Anglo-American War
The border between Canada and the United States was possibly the longest fortified boundary in the world by 1914; great belts of barbed wire marked their respective frontiers, while fleets of "Great Lakes Battleships" (actually armored cruisers) prowled the waters between Ontario and the Midwest.
The Manitoba Front
The vital rail junction at Winnipeg was a priority target for the US Army, as its capture would split the populous provinces of Quebec and Ontario from their primary food source. However, though the outnumbered Canadian defenders were thrown back from the border in August 1914, the Americans failed to capture the city in their opening offensive.
By 1915 the two sides had fixed their lines about halfway between Winnipeg and the prewar border. Late in that year, an Anglo-Canadian offensive succeeded in regaining some lost ground, but by the end of 1916 the US Army had thrown the Canadians back once more.
The Ontario Fronts
The major US effort in Canada was directed against Toronto and southern Ontario, the heartland of Canada's population and industry. America's pre-war plan anticipated the outright conquest of Canada, but this strategy swiftly collapsed due to greater-than-expected losses from Canadian machine guns and established trench lines. American Great Lakes Battleships, intended to provide needed fire support for the Army, were much reduced in effectiveness by Canadian mine belts and submersibles. The Canadian lines on the Niagara peninsula were overrun by September 1914, but at a horrendous cost in American lives. Farther west the anticipated walkover from Michigan turned into a slow-moving advance in the face of stiff Canadian resistance.
During 1914 and into early 1915, the Canadian defense centered upon London; after that line was finally cracked, the Canadians and British fell back to Empire and Guelph. During 1916, the Americans managed to fight their way into Acton, only to lose ground to an Anglo-Canadian counter-attack which introduced barrels to the Ontario front.
America's unexpectedly slow progress in Ontario was partly due to the demands of battling two nations on opposite sides of its border. But the main reason for American's slow advance was simply the nature of warfare in the Great War: the combination of trenches, machine-guns and artillery and the constricted geography of southern Ontario, all of which favored the defenders, allowed the Canadians to inflict huge losses upon their attackers. In addition, the US-held areas were ruined with no usable roads or railroads; in contrast the Canadians were supplied and reinforced by an intact transport system.
The St. Lawrence Campaign
In far eastern Canada, the American forces managed to fight their way to the Saint Lawrence River in the opening weeks of the war, seizing New Brunswick and part of Nova Scotia in the process. After this early triumph, the US advance foundered; crossing the St. Lawrence proved to be a different task than reaching it. Nevertheless, the Americans persevered; an assault upon Quebec City and Montreal from the north seems to have been their only viable option on the Quebecois front, as the short overland advance from New York stalled early in the war.
Despite the difficulties of supplying and reinforcing an army over the river, the Americans managed to advance steadily south throughout 1915 and 1916. Canadian counter-attacks in 1916 succeeded in putting Riviere-du-Loup within aircraft range; even so, Quebec City was under US guns by early 1917.
Taking advantage of Quebecois antipathy toward the British imperial government in Canada, a government which heavily discriminated against both Francophones and Catholics, as well as historical resentments stemming from the British defeat of France in the Seven Years' War, the US Department of State assisted Quebecois nationalists in proclaiming their own Republic of Quebec in early 1917, which was immediately recognized by the US and all the other Central Powers members as well as Italy and the Netherlands. For the rest of the war, roughly two regiments of Quebecois soldiers fought alongside Americans in the battle to liberate their homeland after a century and a half of British possession.
One possible reason for the seeming waste of American resources on this front would be denying the St. Lawrence waterway to British reinforcements. With American guns on both sides of the river, the British were forced to ship in reinforcements via Hudson Bay or Labrador, both impassable in winter.
War in the Canadian Rockies
The war in British Colombia was a distant affair, ignored in favor of the more titanic battles raging farther east. During 1914 and 1915, ferocious fighting between the small US and Canadian forces resulted in few gains for the former. Though Crowsnest Pass was taken by the Americans, the Canadians simply doubled their rail traffic in Kicking Horse Pass farther north.
In mid-1916 the situation changed in America's favor. Major Irving Morrell, temporarily disgraced after a reverse in Utah, arrived and proceeded to outfight the Canadians through his more imaginative tactics and better leadership. By the end of the summer, Kicking Horse Pass and Banff were in US hands. With only the less-usable Yellowhead Pass now available to them, the Pacific coastline of Canada was effectively cut off from the rest of the country, reducing foreign assistance for the rest of the war.
The Great War at Sea
Pearl Harbor was captured from the British in August 1914 by the United States Navy. The American Pacific Fleet (minus the North Pacific Squadron in Seattle) put to sea days before the outbreak of war, and snuck around the far end of the Sandwich Islands. Attacked from the south, the Royal Navy hadn't yet reinforced Pearl Harbor and was caught by surprise. In short order the ships based there were sunk. The land forts were taken by a regiment of Marines and a US Army division.
The Concrete Battleship - an artificial island-fort that commanded Pearl Harbor's entrance- proved a more durable opponent. Two capital ships were damaged and a light cruiser lost before the Americans snuck a freighter's worth of armed sailors into its main air vents. A mixture of fuel oil and explosive charges ignited the fort's ammunition, and the Concrete Battleship was blown apart, according to one witness, in an explosion rivaling Krakatoa.
Pearl Harbor was secure, and remained a strategically important U.S. base well into the next war.
Raiding and patrols characterized the Pacific theater for the next two years, until the Royal Navy and its Japanese counterpart launched a combined attack upon the Sandwich Islands. The fleets never got there; part of the US Navy intercepted their ships south-west of the islands and the result was the only set-piece fleet battle in the Pacific.
A confused encounter, the Battle of the Three Navies was most notable for the "Death Ride of the battleship USS Dakota", when damaged steering forced the ship to sail between British and Japanese lines. The ship survived, albeit with some damage, and the battle proved to be tactically inconclusive. Strategically it was nonetheless a victory for the United States, as their control of Pearl Harbor remained uncontested for the rest of the war.
Riverine Operations on North American rivers
The Mississippi River valley drains much of the North American continent. At the outset of the Great War, the major rivers of North America were divided between US and CS control, with the northern Confederate border running along the line of the Ohio and the Mississippi down to Arkansas.
While the Ohio was had been demilitarized before the war by mutual agreement between the two nations, at the outset of the war it was almost immediately the site of major battles as George A. Custer's First Army forced its way across into Confederate-held Kentucky. US artillery managed to suppress the Confederate monitors and permit the landing.
With the banks of the Ohio in US hands, river fighting shifted to the Mississippi and later the Cumberland. The rivers were defended by thick minefields and forts armed with powerful artillery. The main offensive weapon used by US forces to reduce these defenses was the monitor, similar in design concept to the USS Monitor of the War of Secession. These monitors had a very low freeboard and shallow draught, allowing them to float in shallow water. They were armed with multiple machine guns and a turret mounting two six-inch naval rifles, similar to the weapons found on a cruiser at sea. A good example of the type would be the USS Punishment
Both sides employed river monitors. The US was eventually able to make considerable progress in Kentucky with its monitors by operating in combination with land forces to seize key bridges and fortifications.
In Arkansas, Confederate river monitors (called 'river gunboats' by the Confederate Navy) held up the advance of US forces by pelting them with artillery fire heavier than anything that the US troops had available west of the Mississippi. On one occasion, Medal of Honor recipient Gordon McSweeney staged a daring raid in which he singlehandedly destroyed a Confederate monitor with a demolition charge; he was later killed in a bombardment delivered by a similar monitor.
River gunboats are an example of a brown-water navy, warships designed to operate in shallow water on rivers or close to shore. Another example of brown-water warships in the Great War would be the Great Lakes Battleships constructed by the US and Canada. Brown-water fleets are in contrast to blue-water ships designed to operate and fight on the high seas.
Both sides' oceangoing navies derided the river monitors as the 'snapping turtle fleet', despite the fact that river monitor crews faced extreme hazards, including a variety of threats not normally encountered at sea (such as small arms fire from the banks of the river).
During the Red Rebellion staged by Confederate blacks during 1915, several Confederate naval vessels were pressed into service to bombard rebel positions from the rivers, including the submarine CSS Bonefish commanded by Roger Kimball. The Bonefish proved unsuitable for riverine combat, though its relatively shallow draft made it better for the purpose than most blue-water surface warships.
Submarines and Commerce Raiding in the Atlantic
The strategic need of the five evenly-balanced hostile navies on both sides of the North Atlantic to remain strong everywhere prevented large-scale fleet actions on the order of Jutland in the North Sea or the battle of the Three Navies in the Pacific. Both sides, however, employed new tactics and machines in an attempt to break the maritime stalemate. The eastern seaboard of North America rapidly devolved from a fishing and trade zone into a ship-killing gauntlet of minefields, coastal fortresses, and a deadly new weapon, the 'submersible.' US and CS coastal trade was rapidly decimated by the unpredictable appearance of the submarine, and, to a lesser extent, the advent of false-flagged cargo ships mounted with cruiser-class guns. Early in the war, it was the practice of commerce raiders and submersible captains to halt enemy ships and allow their crews to take to their lifeboats before their vessel was to be sunk. However, the US Navy abused this nicety through the tactic of having their own submersibles shadow decoy fishing trawlers. As the sailors in the decoy prepared to abandon ship, the trailing US sub would torpedo the Confederate boat waiting motionless on the surface. After the loss of a handful of subs in this manner, the CS Navy abandoned its pre-war scruples and switched tactics to that of the surprise attack.
As 1914 drew into 1915, transatlantic commerce had been brought to a standstill, trapping many Europeans in America for the duration of the war and vice versa. The only intercourse that still went on between the Old World and the New was military in nature. Weapons plans, military observers, even entire aircraft passed between Germany and the US by cargo submarine, while further north, the US Navy attempted to interdict the sea link supplying arms and men from Britain to Canada. The rapid US advance to the St. Lawrence denied the British and Canadians use of the river, meaning that even those supplies that did arrive had to take the long overland route from Goose Bay in Labrador.
Due to their shallow draft, CS submersibles were recalled from the Atlantic to serve as river gunboats during the Red Rebellion of 1915-16. They provided valuable fire support that allowed first-line Confederate land-based artillery to remain at the front against the USA. However, submarines' lack of armor to protect the crews serving their deck-mounted weapons made them easy targets for snipers on the banks of the rivers, and submarine crews suffered heavy casualties when serving gunboat duty.
As the CSA's situation on land became more dire, CS submarines were sent on riskier and riskier missions into US waters, sometimes cruising on to refit in unoccupied Canada before returning home. Using illicitly obtained maps of US minefields, the CSS Bonefish managed to penetrate both the Chesapeake Bay and the approaches of New York City, inflicting heavy damage and escaping on both occasions.
By the beginning of the 20th Century, Great Britain had become a net importer of grain, beef, and other foodstuffs, principally supplied by Canada, the USA and CSA, and to a lesser extent Argentina. With the outbreak of war the North Atlantic became impassable, leaving only the agricultural production of one remote South American ally to free up British and French war labor from food production. Consequently British capital began to flood into Argentina, causing an economic boom only slightly offset by her own desultory war with Chile and Paraguay along the Andes. Ships sailing from Argentina would travel north through the territorial waters of neutral Uruguay and Brazil, turn east in the neighborhood of Recife on the northeastern tip of Brazil, and steam from there across the narrowest point in the south Atlantic to French West Africa. The German High Seas Fleet was corked in the North Sea by the Royal Navy, while the US Atlantic fleet was prevented from moving south by the nearly continuous chain of British, French, and Confederate submersibles running from Havana to Dakar. Only after the Battle of the Three Navies (July 1916) cemented US dominance in the Pacific could a sizable task force centered around the USS Dakota be detached from the fleet protecting the Sandwich Islands and sent southeast around the Horn. After a harrowing passage through the heavily-mined strait between the British-held Falkland Islands and the Argentine mainland (including one of the first attacks by an aircraft against a warship in naval history), the US-Chilean fleet reached the trade route and began interdiction operations. These were mainly successful but enormously expensive for this remote attacking force. Supplies of shells, food and fuel had to come either from the Chileans around the Horn, or be shipped 6,000 nautical miles south from the US Atlantic coast through a submersible-haunted sea. Shortages and the need to preserve the force hampered US operations.
The decision of the Empire of Brazil in the spring of 1917 to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers broke the South Atlantic deadlock for reasons having more to do with geography than any particular military weight she brought to the struggle. Now able to draw supplies from Brazilian ports, the US-led fleet severed the Argentinian lifeline to Britain. Unable to use neutral Brazilian waters, and facing land combat on her western and northeastern borders, Argentina cracked under the pressure. Britain sent a large fleet to relieve the Argentines, but their arrival in South American waters was followed almost immediately by the capitulation of the British government to Germany and the United States. This timely armistice forestalled a battle with the Americans and their allies, who were steaming full tilt towards the British when the news arrived. Instead, the British fleet turned northeast for home and the South Atlantic knew peace for the first time since 1914.
The USS Ericsson Incident
The USS Ericsson was a U.S. Navy destroyer that was sunk by Confederate Navy Captain Roger Kimball (commanding the CSS Bonefish) after the Confederate States had officially surrendered. The USA initially assumed that the ship had been sunk by the British Navy, which was still officially at war on the high seas.
Later, a rival officer from the Bonefish revealed the true culprit. Kimball was subsequently murdered in Charleston, SC, by Sylvia Enos, the wife of George Enos, one on the seamen killed when the Ericsson was sunk. She was released to the USA to mitigate the unlawful sinking of the USS Ericsson, and was regarded as a hero in the United States.
The Mormon Rebellion in the USA
While the USA and CSA were locked in mortal combat back in the East, Mormon radicals bought weapons from both the Confederacy and the British Empire in Canada. The uprising began around Easter time in 1915, and upsets plans for a large US spring offensive in Kentucky by forcing President Theodore Roosevelt and Army Chief of Staff Leonard Wood to take two divisions away from General Custer (who, at 75, was now in command of an entire army, with thoughts on warfare that haven't changed since 1881) and enforce federal hegemony in Utah.
The US Army battled its way through Utah, battling a foe far more fierce and tenacious than any Canadian or Confederate soldier. At one point during the campaign, the Mormons detonated a large mine under the US forces' trench near Ogden, destroying an entire division and forcing the other to hold tight until reinforcements arrive--further disrupting US plans for other theaters. Nevertheless, the US Army captured the last stronghold of Ogden, taking the rebel leaders into custody and enforcing martial law in Utah that was not lifted until the 1930s.
First under the command of Major General Alonzo Kent, then Lt. General John Pershing, and then Colonel Abner Dowling, US Army governor-generals ruled the Occupied State of Utah from a bunker complex in Salt Lake City. Parts of the occupation include banning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as an illegal organization, enforcing curfews and bans on public ceremonies, occupying Temple Square and leaving the rubble of the Temple in ruins as a reminder of the cost of rebellion (with the picking up of any stone or pebble from the rubble a crime on pain of execution). Mormons chafe under this tight occupation, but are forced to endure it or face extermination by an all-too-willing US government.
The Red Rebellion in the CSA
Between 1915-1916, many blacks revolted against the Confederacy and, influenced by both Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln, attempted to form a series of socialist republics. With the help of the United States, the rebellion became a major problem for the Confederate government as they were forced to divert some of their units from other fronts to the crush the mass uprising. Among these abortive republics were the Black Belt Socialist Republic and the Congaree Socialist Republic. The Reds of the Congaree Socialist Republic were able to carry on their defensive guerrilla war in the Congaree Swamp until the end of the Great War.
Politics of the USA and the CSA during the Great War
The Confederate States presidential election of 1915 was the first election in Confederate States history to be held during wartime. The Radical Liberals ran Chihuahuan Doroteo Arango against Whig Vice President Gabriel Semmes. Semmes won, and became the 10th President of the Confederate States. The next year, in the 1916 United States presidential election, Socialist Eugene V. Debs ran against popular Democratic incumbent Theodore Roosevelt. The Socialists hoped to end the war, but President Roosevelt defeated Debs in a landslide. This marked the second consecutive defeat for Debs.
Europe during the Great War
The European side of the war, much as in North America, was a stalemate from 1914-1916 until Germany defeated France at the Battle of Verdun.
Despite being a founding member of the Central Powers, Italy remained neutral throughout the war. Ireland was the scene of a major rebellion, with US destroyers and German U-boats delivering arms shipments to the rebels.
As in North America, 1917 proved the climax of the war in Europe. Russia collapsed early in the year, falling into a civil war that would last for over a decade. On the heels of this bad news, the French army mutinied, leading to France's surrender by July 1917. Britain was forced to withdraw its soldiers from northern France, but held out until Canada fell to the United States and shipments from Argentina were cut-off by Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil. With its allies defeated and food supplies severed, Britain faced starvation, and so capitulated.
The End of the Great War
In contrast to the previous three years of stalemate, 1917 was to be a year of continuous US victories. With the Confederacy scraping the manpower barrel for black soldiers and Canada in a worse state, it was all the two nations could do to slow the U.S. tide.
General Custer's Grand Plan
In what was probably the only real flash of genius Custer had in his lifetime, the old general realized that the best way of using barrels was in one great mass rather than as infantry support weapons. Accordingly he gathered over 300 barrels along a two-mile stretch of front. When inquiries came from the War Department and President Roosevelt paid a personal visit to Custer's headquarters, the First Army's commander told them that the deployment existed only on paper, in order to fool Confederate spies. Satisfied, they let Custer be and First Army continued to amass infantry and barrels opposite White House, Tennessee.
Third Nashville: The Barrel Roll Offensive of April 22, 1917
After a short but intense artillery barrage, the US forces under Lt. Col. Irving Morrell rolled forward on April 22. Despite spirited resistance from the Confederates (including a handful of barrels and newly-raised Negro units), the US Army broke through CS lines and found itself within artillery range of Nashville. Despite the flagrant violation of War Department doctrine, Custer's success with the barrels led to a radical change in US tactics as Philadelphia reluctantly endorsed Custer's methods.
The U.S. advance to the Rappahannock
The American push into Virginia began on Remembrance Day, but real progress was not made until the barrel tactics of Custer and Morrell were adopted. Even so the Army of Northern Virginia was forced across the Potomac, Washington, DC, was retaken and CS soldiers sensed that the war was coming to a close. Despite the heroic actions of a handful of units (notably Sergeant Jake Featherston and the First Richmond Howitzers) at Round Hill and Bull Run, the rout spread. First, several raw Negro troops broke and ran, coming under fire from a furious Featherston. Then white units started disintegrating as well. By the war's end the US Army stood upon the Rappahannock River, the Confederates having fallen back to Fredericksburg.
Fourth Nashville: The Confederacy asks for an armistice
Three weeks after the Barrel Roll Offensive Morrel led his barrels across the Cumberland River, successfully outflanking the CS defenses. Nashville fell and First Army continued its drive south, intent on taking Murfreesboro. It was halted near Nolensville not by Confederate resistance but by CS requests for a cease-fire. Roosevelt accepted a local cease-fire along the Tennessee front, much to Custer's chagrin. (He later claimed to his adjutant, "Murfreesboro?! To hell with Murfreesboro! We'd be advancing on Chattanooga, damn me to hell if we wouldn't!") Despite hemming and hawing about the matter, threats from Roosevelt ensured that the CSA surrendered on all fronts by early autumn, 1917.
The Fall of Winnipeg and Toronto: Canada surrenders
With their advance to the south of Toronto stalled, the American forces in Ontario shifted their efforts to the northwest of the city. The outflanking move paid off; by the late summer the US Army was fighting on the outskirts of Toronto. Winnipeg had already fallen, cutting Canada in half, and Quebec City was taken by the Americans and a pair of regiments raised from the newly-created Republic of Quebec. With its European allies defeated, the Confederate States already surrendering and the prospect of a million US reinforcements coming up from CS-US fronts, the Canadians and British finally requested a cease-fire for land and air forces in Canada. Though embittered by defeat, the Canadians could take solace in the fact that, with the exception of Britain (and arguably Japan), they had outlasted all of their stronger allies.
The Armistice and its Results
The terms of surrender imposed upon the Entente by the Quadruple Alliance were harsh.
- Britain gave control of Canada, Newfoundland, the Bahamas, and Bermuda to the United States. (The half of Maine lost during the Second Mexican War was returned, with some additional territory from New Brunswick.)
- The Confederacy surrendered the states of Kentucky and Sequoyah, as well as the western portion of Texas (called the State of Houston by the US), all of northern Virginia to the Rappahannock River was annexed in West Virginia, a strip of northeastern Arkansas added to Missouri, and a chunk of Sonora added to New Mexico.
- Belgium remained under German occupation and the Netherlands and Denmark came under German influence.
- The Belgian Congo became a German colony.
New countries created as a result of this war included the following:
- The Republic of Quebec, allied to the United States
- The Republic of Ireland, allied to both the United States and Germany
U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing helped negotiate these terms.
Despite hopes this would be the war to end all wars, tensions still lingered. The Confederates soon turned to the Freedom Party under Jake Featherston who eventually became the CS president in 1934. In France the Action Francaise gained power and put King Charles XI on the throne. And in Britain the Silver Shirts under Oswald Mosley formed a noisy minority in Parliament, with Winston Churchill being named Prime Minister to keep them from taking over. While it fought on the losing side, the Empire of Japan lost nothing and paid no reparations, allowing it to continue to expand in the Pacific, and bringing it into conflict with the United States again in 1932. These new powers would help bring about a Second Great War in 1941.
The victorious United States went through dramatic changes as well. Voters would not reelect Theodore Roosevelt for a third term in 1920, instead giving the office to Upton Sinclair, making him the first Socialist president. The nation found itself ruling a great empire and finding Germany a rival instead of a friend. There was talk of conflict between the two powers in the 1920's, but the Great Depression and the return of old enemies kept this from happening.
The small amount of liberalization that the Blacks had gained post-War of Secession was lost following the disastrous Red Rebellion. The post-war hate toward blacks helped contribute to the rise of Jake Featherston and the Freedom Party who began the practice of genocide on the black population. As this process began many blacks began to take arms once again, usually attacking in small raids and using guerrilla warfare. This fighting would also eventually continue into the Second Great War.