|Part of The Second Great War|
|United States||Confederate States|
|Commanders and leaders|
Events preceding the attack
Ever since the Great War, the Confederacy had longed for the return of Kentucky, Sequoyah, Houston, and pieces of Sonora, Arkansas, and Virginia. The United States had been dealing with rising violence from the populations of these lands, who wanted to rejoin their country. The Confederate States, which elected Jake Featherston as President in 1933, grew more insistent in their demands that the territories be returned from 1933 on.
In 1940, United States President Al Smith brokered an Richmond Agreement with Featherston to allow plebiscites to be held in Houston, Kentucky, and Sequoyah, under the conditions that Featherston would not ask for more territory and would not re-militarize any returned territory. The votes were held in early in 1941. Kentucky and Houston voted to rejoin the CSA, while Sequoyah chose to remain in the USA. Featherston quickly re-militarized Kentucky and demanded the return of all the captured territories (even Sequoyah, which had voted to remain with the US) Smith refused and decided the time to stop trying to appease Featherston had come.
Tensions grew in Europe when German Kaiser Wilhelm II died in 1941. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm V, refused to return captured territory to France. In response, France, Britain, and the CSA declared war on Germany. Featherston had hoped that the U.S. would immediately aid its ally, Germany, and declare war, but the U.S. demurred. Frustrated, Featherston made one last demand for the returned territory, then decided the time had come to bring the war to North America.
The brainchild of Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest III, Chief of the Confederate General Staff, Blackbeard was the CSA's war plan for a quick overwhelming victory. By throwing all the offensive units into one army, the Confederacy planned to push through the state of Ohio and cut the USA in half, forcing a surrender before the USA could fully mobilize its superior resources in manpower and industry for total war.
With Brigadier General George Patton in charge of the armored forces, the Confederate Army of Kentucky invaded Ohio and advanced north to Lake Erie. The bulk of the U.S. defense, commanded by Brigadier General Abner Dowling, was anchored around the state capital, Columbus. The Confederates surrounded the city but pushed on, repelling counter-attacks led by U.S. barrel commander Irving Morrell. Patton reached Sandusky, a town on the shore of Lake Erie, in the first week of August 1941.
After the USA was cut in two, President Featherston broadcast a demand for the USA to surrender, offering terms. First, the U.S. was to return Sequoyah and the parts of Virginia and Sonora it had seized after the Great War. Second, the U.S. was to pay back the reparations it had received after the Great War. Third, the U.S. was to remove all fortifications within 100 miles of the border (with the exception of those around Washington, DC) and to not operate barrels or war airplanes in this zone. The C.S. reserved the right to send inspectors at any time to verify this. In return, the C.S. would remove its forces from U.S. territory as quickly as it could.
U.S. President Al Smith refused, much to Featherston's surprise. Smith stated in his broadcast that Featherston could not be trusted and that while the Confederate States started the war, the United States would finish it. He ordered U.S. counterattacks against the Confederate salient while preparing for an offensive in Virginia that autumn.
The Ohio front would be a stalemate until the summer of 1942, when Featherston attempted to build on Blackbeard's gains by launching a renewal of the offensive in Ohio, Operation Coalscuttle, on June 28, 1942, with the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the target. This time, under Morrell's command, the U.S. forces would display much improved performance, forcing the Army of Kentucky into the city itself and destroying it in the war's decisive battle.
Overall, while Blackbeard was a military success, it was an absolute strategic failure as the CSA couldn't force the USA to quit the war. Thus, the C.S. was forced into the last thing anyone in their country wanted: a long war, a type of war only the U.S. could win. Learning the lessons of Ohio, the United States ultimately did bring its entire military potential to bear, just as Forrest and Featherston feared, and would go on to defeat and occupy the entire Confederate States.