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The Extremely Condensed Civil War (PG-13)

History-American Civil War Humor

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#61 G1223

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 12:02 PM

View Post_ph, on Feb 7 2006, 10:07 AM, said:

They felt that South Carolina had a better idea of what to do for the people of South Carolina. They felt that a federal government which got into it's head to push a social agenda was wrong. They felt Lincoln was such a man.

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Wow...  The contemporary parallels are just eerie.

They have always been there.

As to those who are saying it was just about slavery and nothing else are wrong. I would point out the works of Shelby Foote. I agree slavery was a primary force for pulling in northern support.
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#62 Eskaminzim

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 12:32 PM

Gode:

With respect, your points WERE correctly noted and addressed.

As I understand it, you were saying something to the effect of slavery as an 'evil' institution was a radical notion around the time of the Civil War, and that just because we're looking back at things through the filter of 21st century sensibilities doesn't mean that people who owned others were evil for doing so--given the prevailing thoughts of the time.

And...I could well agree with you here...IF those dates that you're decrying hadn't been put up, showing that far from abolition being a novel or radical ideal, it was THE ACCEPTED ideal of all 'civilized countries' before the time of the Civil War!

The USA, in particular the Southern USA, was lagging way behind in the accepted standard that slavery was, in fact, WRONG, and had, in fact, already been abolished in basically the entire rest of the civilized world.

So, those dates, at least to me, show that abolition was NOT a radical idea which the south should not be blamed for not embracing, as you argue, but rather something the rest of the world knew was absolutely WRONG and therefore had outlawed it.

Do you see something differently?

#63 Kosh

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 01:48 PM

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As to those who are saying it was just about slavery and nothing else are wrong. I would point out the works of Shelby Foote. I agree slavery was a primary force for pulling in northern support.

I am fimilar with Mr Foote, and love his work, but I have searched for any other reason for the war, and the only "State Right" that was in question was the right to keep slaves. And as I said earlier, it started in the begining, with the Constitution.






We should probably start another thread. This one started out as humor.

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#64 Batrochides

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 04:21 PM

Re. possible intervention by Britain in the American Civil War as a consequence of the Trent incident.

I've read with interest the debate on the naval balance between the Federal fleet and the Royal Navy in 1861/2, and I commend the contributors.

However, I do side with those who believe that Britain would  have had a very difficult experience had matters escalated into open war between her and the Washington government.

Firstly, although America was by no means the industrial power that it would become by the end of the century, its manufacturing capacity in 1861/2, concentrated in the North, was still seen as formidable enough that, when taken into consideration with the increase in population and tighter binding through techonlogical advances (railroads and telegraphs) since the War of 1812, a conflict with even the North would have to be conducted through a national effort on a scale not seen since the war with Napoleon. For a war in America to have even a chance of success on the British side would require the sacrifice, determination and military resources thought necessary to achieve victory against the French in Europe...and with the theater of war not across the Channel, but 3000 miles away.

As was noted earlier, Palmerston would be contrained by the (valid) requirement to keep a credible naval force at home to protect the Channel from the threat of French warships, so not only could the Royal navy ill afford to sent its most modern ships to blockade Northern ports or secure Southern ones, it would be hard pressed to justify and send a force equal to that of the Northern fleet, which, even without the Monitor, was still technologically equal to the UK's wooden ships and would be manned by determined and well-motivated crews.

Britain's Warrior was/is a most elegant creation, but she was alone in 1861/2...and even if it was decided that a fleet of such ships should be built, their construction would have taken some years, by which time America could have launched dozens of Ericsson monitors. Additionally, a Warrior's true place was on the open sea, an arena which would not be a decisive one so far as the North was concerned. A reenactment of the War of 1812 blockade would be problematic if a host of seagoing wooden battleships and steam frigates were faced at each port with a swarm of difficult-to-hit monitors, a type of vessel which would not need to have seagoing capacity to strike heavily on a blockading fleet.

Even this scenario would be impossible for Britain to have to come to grips with if there was a lack of national resolve and Parliamentary support for a European-class war in America. A quick punitive action by land or sea was something the British Victorian would support, but if sober reflection a few days after the initial jingoistic demonstrations resulted in a realization of the enormity and cost of the task ahead, there might well have been a change in attitude...was a long and expensive war in faraway America really the best option?

Last point: a war with America might have forced the hidebound Admiralty to sanction the construction of Cowper Coles's turret battleship HMS Captain five years earlier than she was in history. Of course, a Captain would have likely sunk in her first Atlantic gale on the way to America, as she actually did  in the Bay of Biscay, with catastrophic consequences to the lives of the men aboard and the moral of the Royal Navy.

Batrochides

#65 offworlder

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 05:11 PM

how is it I just knew this debate would get tough with hurt feelings, not so much about some point someone stands on but more in the way of someone's point not being respected?

Slavery was surely at the center of the war, and many at the time knew it was - but the southern soldiers knew something else that the Union ones didn't really know they were thinking it that way, and the movie Gettysburg showed it, even if many readers just don't want to see it.

Most of the southern boys going to war were on small farms with nine kids, or clerk in a shop, or apprentice to a trader or a tradesman: they didn't own slaves, though they knew men who did.

The South sat there in 1861 seeing northern soldiers coming down to man southern forts (thus taking them away), hey those 'r our forts! but they're really federally owned forts ain't they?! - Lincoln sat there in Washington watching the southern states break up the country by seceding ............ and he knew he could not allow that - in other words, to Lincoln it wasn't just the issue over which they were seceding: it was the fact that they .... were seceding! He knew we could only make it as a country if the country remained whole. THAT is what the war was about, like it or not. Slavery was THE issue, that's true: but the breaking country part? THAT is what the war was about, That is what the feds went down to forts about, and that is why the rebs fired off some cannonades at Charleston.

Now back to those reb soldiers: like Charleston and Mobile sitting there seeing forts get manned, like Lincoln sitting there watching seceshin' goin' on and doing something about it ..... those reb plowboys and apprenticeboys sat there seeing FEDS from Washington come down invading what they saw as THEIR lands, not fed lands, making laws and rules and telling them how to live and what to do. With uniforms. And with GUNS. And they said NO Sir! yall aint Coming down Here make US live how YOU say! n'uh-uhnnn! where's my Hawken rifle?! (remember that line at the end of the opening scene in John Wayne's The Undefeated?:: ".... this is our land ... and you' on it." )

Ken Burns knows. He knows slavery was in there. But he knows there was more to it than that. Ask him about Lincoln. Ask him and his cowriters of Ken Burns' Civil War, ask the writers of Gettysburg when they made that scene- they know.

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#66 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 05:43 PM

View PostBatrochides, on Feb 7 2006, 09:21 PM, said:

Re. possible intervention by Britain in the American Civil War as a consequence of the Trent incident.

I've read with interest the debate on the naval balance between the Federal fleet and the Royal Navy in 1861/2, and I commend the contributors.

However, I do side with those who believe that Britain would  have had a very difficult experience had matters escalated into open war between her and the Washington government.

No body has said otherwise. If Britain had gone to war she would have had to join in the industrialised, total war that was being waged between the states - nothing less than a total comitment.

What is being argued with regards intervention is whether Britian would have gotten involved in the first place (I say this is extremly unlikely due to the very factors you have listed- its a massive commitment for what? the defence of a slave holding nation?) and what the likely results of that intervention would be.

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As was noted earlier, Palmerston would be contrained by the (valid) requirement to keep a credible naval force at home to protect the Channel from the threat of French warships, so not only could the Royal navy ill afford to sent its most modern ships to blockade Northern ports or secure Southern ones, it would be hard pressed to justify and send a force equal to that of the Northern fleet, which, even without the Monitor, was still technologically equal to the UK's wooden ships and would be manned by determined and well-motivated crews.

While I don't disagree that the navy would have been constrained, the vast size of the Royal Navy at the time meant that they could still have deployed overwhelming force against the USN while still keeping a credible force at home- and quantity has a quality all of its own.

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Britain's Warrior was/is a most elegant creation, but she was alone in 1861/2

Not true- while at the time she was commissioned only one other vessel in the world had a hope of matching her she wasn't the only ironclad in the RN in 1862- Defence had been completed by the end of 1861 and Black Prince was finished in 1862.

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...and even if it was decided that a fleet of such ships should be built, their construction would have taken some years, by which time America could have launched dozens of Ericsson monitors. Additionally, a Warrior's true place was on the open sea, an arena which would not be a decisive one so far as the North was concerned. A reenactment of the War of 1812 blockade would be problematic if a host of seagoing wooden battleships and steam frigates were faced at each port with a swarm of difficult-to-hit monitors, a type of vessel which would not need to have seagoing capacity to strike heavily on a blockading fleet.

Even if it was decided? Historically, even without going to war, by the end of 1861 Britain had laid down ten ironclads and had ordered the armouring of another nine wooden-hulled vessels under construction.

One of the things I dislike about alternate histories is that most people get their favoured side to change tactics while their opponent soldiers on doing exactally what they did historically without reacting to the changes. In the event of a war, British industry (whos iron production and especially ship building capabilities were far ahead of the US at the time) would have started churning out ironclads, no ifs about it.

Also, Warrior type vessels do not have to sit within site of US ports and let the US plink away at them- they can enforce a distant blockade out on the seas.

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Even this scenario would be impossible for Britain to have to come to grips with if there was a lack of national resolve and Parliamentary support for a European-class war in America. A quick punitive action by land or sea was something the British Victorian would support, but if sober reflection a few days after the initial jingoistic demonstrations resulted in a realization of the enormity and cost of the task ahead, there might well have been a change in attitude...was a long and expensive war in faraway America really the best option?

I agree. National interests would not be served by such a war; and it was a much greater commitment than the short wars that the British were used to.

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Last point: a war with America might have forced the hidebound Admiralty to sanction the construction of Cowper Coles's turret battleship HMS Captain five years earlier than she was in history. Of course, a Captain would have likely sunk in her first Atlantic gale on the way to America, as she actually did  in the Bay of Biscay, with catastrophic consequences to the lives of the men aboard and the moral of the Royal Navy.

The problem with Captain was that her turrets were placed to far up; greatly distabilizing the ship. At the time the best gun arrangment for ocean going battleships were barbettes- hopefully combat experience would have prevented the Captain tradegy.

I don't see what was so hidebound about the Admiralty at the time- developments in ships at the time do not support this. I have a very interesting book charting the development of British battleships from 1860-80 ish and  the technological advancments made during this time is staggering.
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#67 Lin731

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 06:42 PM

What an interesting discussion (and now a technical one regarding the US and British fleets). For anyone who hasn't seen it...I would HIGHLY recommend the Civil War series, that is by far the BEST series I have seen regarding the war.

On the causes of the war...Yes, slavery was at the core in terms of why the states ceded from the Union. The Southern slave states economies were built around slave labor. So here you had the Feds taking over forts and a preceived threat of the Fed eventually outlawing slavery in the US entirely and having drastic consequences for the southern states economies. From Lincolns POV, he loathed slavery but he would have abided with it had it NOT been for the states ceding, that forced his hand really.
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#68 Batrochides

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 07:50 PM

My dear Talkie Toaster, thank your for your kind reply.

Assuming that war broke out by the summer of 1862, HMS Warrior would still be the sole member of her class, as Black Prince would, inadvertently, not be ready for action until the fall of that year. Even had these two warships been available in the immediate aftermath of the Trent incident, it would have taken cool nerves indeed for the Admiralty to recommend sending one of their two naval Crown Jewels across the Atlantic if they had but one to counter the French Gloire and soon-to-be-built Magenta.

The North's navy wouldn't have to travel 3000 miles across the Atlantic, or be forced to rely on still-distant Halifax to maintain a large coastal ironclad fleet, as Britain would. The blockade of the war of 1812 was effective because America possessed but a handful of admittedly superlative frigates, and little means to build up a seagoing fleet that could challenge Royal  Navy offshore; on land, of course, the weakness of the standing militia system then employed by the American states meant that British forces could land virtually anywhere they chose, and could wreak havoc on the relatively weakly defended sea towns where ship construction would presumably take place. In 1861/2, however, it would be difficult to imagine successful British landings and occupations around the centers of naval construction, particularly when they would be faced with a large proportion of the 300,000  3-year troops that Lincoln raised in the year following Bull Run. While an individual tactical outcome would depend on the quality of the British general in command of the force in question, each encounter would surely be a very challenging fight from a British viewpoint compared to those of the Maryland campaign of 1814. If Northern warship construction could not be effectively halted, then it would be only a matter of time before the unpleasant (on the British side) scenario mentioned in my previous post would materialize, and the blockading fleet faced with a multitude of ironclad monitors. That is to say, even if Parliament allowed for the expensive buildup, how soon could enough ironclad vessels capable of Atlantic passage be constructed to effectively counter the Passiac class and follow-ons to the Dictator, coming into service through the spring and summer of 1863?

In this sort of an arms race, it would be, IMO, very difficult for Britain to keep enough of a technological edge that would offset the two impediments of distance and numbers. She could have a Monarch ready by 1864, perhaps even a Minotaur and/or Captain before the end of that year, if an accelerated building program was sanctioned. Even so, the Federal navy by that time would have possessed not only the Passiac class and possible additions to Dictator, but almost certainly the Onondaga class as well, with plans for building the seagoing Puritan and Kalamazoo classes well in hand, presumably with greater support in Congress (being faced with a direct threat to the nation) than a British Government would had have in Parliament for a British wartime shipbuilding program. The Royal Navy would be forced to build sea-capable warships to reliably cross the Atlantic to face the Yankees; but Washington would only need a large number of coastal ironclads armed with very powerful cannon to deal with a blockade.

As you say, to keep out of reach from the likes of the Passiacs, a blockading British fleet could stand well off to sea...but of course that would in turn significantly weaken the tightness of the blockade itself, with consequent protests from countries that would not accept a mere paper blockade declared by Her Majesty's Government.

Lastly, a word about the "hidebound" Admiralty. Warrior was built explicitly to counter the threat posed by the Gloire, when Britain was in a near-panic over the rumored ability of the world's first seagoing ironclad warship; otherwise, the development of the ironclad warship in the Royal Navy would have been retarded some years yet...indeed, after the spurt of the Warrior and Black Prince, non-coastal ironclad construction through the rest of the 1860s was carried out at a sedate pace marked by controversy over the premium form that an ironclad should take.

Cowper Cole favored a moderate-to-low freeboard battleship (more difficult to hit with enemy fire) with few if any masts and rigging; while such a vessel would be impressive for coastal or even Channel operations, it was thought impractical for the world-wide voyages required to be taken by an Imperial navy, as steam engines were thought not reliable enough to be the sole motive power for oceangoing ships. Therefore, the turret ship Monarch was built similar to a conventional wooden vessel and with a full set of masts and rigging; while Captain was built as a compromise with Cole's ideas--low freeboard but with a heavy seagoing rigging insisted by the Admiralty's advisers. Result: disaster.

Best wishes.

Batrochides

Edited by Batrochides, 07 February 2006 - 08:12 PM.


#69 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 07:49 AM

Thanks for your interesting reply!

View PostBatrochides, on Feb 8 2006, 12:50 AM, said:

My dear Talkie Toaster, thank your for your kind reply.

Assuming that war broke out by the summer of 1862, HMS Warrior would still be the sole member of her class, as Black Prince would, inadvertently, not be ready for action until the fall of that year. Even had these two warships been available in the immediate aftermath of the Trent incident, it would have taken cool nerves indeed for the Admiralty to recommend sending one of their two naval Crown Jewels across the Atlantic if they had but one to counter the French Gloire and soon-to-be-built Magenta.

Why are we assuming that war breaks out in the summer of 1862 and not sooner?

HMS Defence was completed and ready for action at the end of 1861- and HMS Warrior was actually ordered to station in the West Atlantic during the Trent Crisis.

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The North's navy wouldn't have to travel 3000 miles across the Atlantic, or be forced to rely on still-distant Halifax to maintain a large coastal ironclad fleet, as Britain would. The blockade of the war of 1812 was effective because America possessed but a handful of admittedly superlative frigates, and little means to build up a seagoing fleet that could challenge Royal  Navy offshore; on land, of course, the weakness of the standing militia system then employed by the American states meant that British forces could land virtually anywhere they chose, and could wreak havoc on the relatively weakly defended sea towns where ship construction would presumably take place. In 1861/2, however, it would be difficult to imagine successful British landings and occupations around the centers of naval construction, particularly when they would be faced with a large proportion of the 300,000  3-year troops that Lincoln raised in the year following Bull Run. While an individual tactical outcome would depend on the quality of the British general in command of the force in question, each encounter would surely be a very challenging fight from a British viewpoint compared to those of the Maryland campaign of 1814. If Northern warship construction could not be effectively halted, then it would be only a matter of time before the unpleasant (on the British side) scenario mentioned in my previous post would materialize, and the blockading fleet faced with a multitude of ironclad monitors. That is to say, even if Parliament allowed for the expensive buildup, how soon could enough ironclad vessels capable of Atlantic passage be constructed to effectively counter the Passiac class and follow-ons to the Dictator, coming into service through the spring and summer of 1863?

There is no need to maintain the blockade from Halifax- the Confederacy was much closer to hand. Likewise, while the British would have had difficultly conducting amphibious operations as during the War of 1812 the threat of such actions would have been just a big a problem for the US. Those 300,000 men had been recruited to fight the Confederacy- if they're forced to guard the Union's coast whos going to fight the Rebs?

There is no question at all that in the even of war the UK would have started churning out ironclads. Britain was a naval power- the defeat of her fleet threatened not only her status as a Great Power, but her very survival as a nation. There is no way they will accept naval inferiority outside of total national defeat.

Finally, Britain doesn't need to build solely ocean going vessels to fight it out with Union monitors- they can quite realisitically build coastal vessels then tow them to station across the Atlantic.  

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In this sort of an arms race, it would be, IMO, very difficult for Britain to keep enough of a technological edge that would offset the two impediments of distance and numbers. She could have a Monarch ready by 1864, perhaps even a Minotaur and/or Captain before the end of that year, if an accelerated building program was sanctioned. Even so, the Federal navy by that time would have possessed not only the Passiac class and possible additions to Dictator, but almost certainly the Onondaga class as well, with plans for building the seagoing Puritan and Kalamazoo classes well in hand, presumably with greater support in Congress (being faced with a direct threat to the nation) than a British Government would had have in Parliament for a British wartime shipbuilding program. The Royal Navy would be forced to build sea-capable warships to reliably cross the Atlantic to face the Yankees; but Washington would only need a large number of coastal ironclads armed with very powerful cannon to deal with a blockade.

I disagree with numbers- Britain's shipbuilding superiority would almost certainly ensure she could at least compete on a blow by blow basis with the Union as regards warship construction. If neccessary she can simply build her own cheap and chearful coastal vessels and tow them across the atlantic. While I don't doubt that a naval campaign against the US would have been very difficult indeed; it would have been even harder for the Union to deal with a superior naval and industrial power *while* engaged in a massive land campaign against the Confederacy.

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As you say, to keep out of reach from the likes of the Passiacs, a blockading British fleet could stand well off to sea...but of course that would in turn significantly weaken the tightness of the blockade itself, with consequent protests from countries that would not accept a mere paper blockade declared by Her Majesty's Government.

The very distant blockade conducted against Germany in WW1 wasn't a paper blockade at all- it was stunningly effective.

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Lastly, a word about the "hidebound" Admiralty. Warrior was built explicitly to counter the threat posed by the Gloire, when Britain was in a near-panic over the rumored ability of the world's first seagoing ironclad warship; otherwise, the development of the ironclad warship in the Royal Navy would have been retarded some years yet...indeed, after the spurt of the Warrior and Black Prince, non-coastal ironclad construction through the rest of the 1860s was carried out at a sedate pace marked by controversy over the premium form that an ironclad should take.

Britain's 'sedate' construction through the rest of the 60s was enough to give her the world lead in number of ocean going ironclads.

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Cowper Cole favored a moderate-to-low freeboard battleship (more difficult to hit with enemy fire) with few if any masts and rigging; while such a vessel would be impressive for coastal or even Channel operations, it was thought impractical for the world-wide voyages required to be taken by an Imperial navy, as steam engines were thought not reliable enough to be the sole motive power for oceangoing ships. Therefore, the turret ship Monarch was built similar to a conventional wooden vessel and with a full set of masts and rigging; while Captain was built as a compromise with Cole's ideas--low freeboard but with a heavy seagoing rigging insisted by the Admiralty's advisers. Result: disaster.

Ocean going warships at the time did need sails as steam power wasn't totally reliable at the time. Even when they were removed, barbette gun emplacements for such ships actually proved superior design features until late into the century (as proven by the Royal Sovereigns)

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Best wishes.

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#70 G1223

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:37 AM

Any blockade breaking would require escort from New York to France. This adds to the British having a better hand in keeping the pressure up. It is closer to their home waters.

Edited by G1223, 08 February 2006 - 11:39 AM.

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#71 Batrochides

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 02:05 PM

My dear Talkie Toaster, I'm further grateful for your reply.

When I mentioned the summer of 1862, I was actually giving your side a bit of an advantage, because I felt that a lightning campaign (officially or unofficially declaring war in the spring of 1862) would have been impracticable from the British standpoint, as they would have to take the time to marshal naval and/or land forces and send them to Canada or Southern ports (more later) before anything like a blockade or major punitive operations against the North could begin, and that being without the Black Prince.

Your scenario also lays open the question of the French. Which set of aggressive instincts would Napoleon III, then becoming hip-deep in Mexico, follow? Side with Britain and allow it a free hand in an American war that would necessarily adversely affect French commerce if there was even a chance of effective Federal retribution, or take advantage of Britain's distraction to rattle sabers with regard to European matters that would put the Palmerston government in a bind, and force it to curtail military efforts in America?

You seem to have also placed a good deal of confidence in the resolve of the Parliamentarily-influential British commercial interests to provide the financial and political support over several years, and likely several military reverses along the way, that would allow that superfleet to come into existence and face the post-1863 Northern ironclads (that is to say, the warship builders might be in clover; the merchant shipbuilders and other important parts of the British economy relying on free trade might not be). British resolve was proven not to be absolute by the fact of the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution...after that had ignited a world war of its own); and as I contended previously, after the first jingoistic parades there would come the sober realization of the bloody and expensive task ahead, on a matter which (British supremacy at sea), I humbly submit, would not be seen as an immediate threat to the Nation, not in comparison with France before 1870, or Germany after 1890.

It has been said that the North defeated the South with one arm tied behind its back. That is to say, as long as the resolve to fight remained strong, it would be impossible for the South to resist militarily, at least on conventional terms, an army that would swell to over two million by 1865, as capable as any in the world. Should Britain have crossed the figurative Rubicon as well as the Atlantic and openly allied itself with the Confederacy, would the CSA been ultimately successful with the relatively limited British support facing that army of two million a year earlier? I don't believe so; and its possible that Lincoln could have raised even another 500,000 with the greater ease than was needed to fight a war against follow Americans, as they would be seen as directed against an historically hated foreign power.

Best wishes.

Batrochides

Edited by Batrochides, 08 February 2006 - 02:08 PM.


#72 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 03:14 PM

View PostBatrochides, on Feb 8 2006, 07:05 PM, said:

My dear Talkie Toaster, I'm further grateful for your reply.

When I mentioned the summer of 1862, I was actually giving your side a bit of an advantage, because I felt that a lightning campaign (officially or unofficially declaring war in the spring of 1862) would have been impracticable from the British standpoint, as they would have to take the time to marshal naval and/or land forces and send them to Canada or Southern ports (more later) before anything like a blockade or major punitive operations against the North could begin, and that being without the Black Prince.

The spring of 1862 would have been nearly half a year since the start of the Trent Crisis- this would have given plenty of time for the British to move forces to the North Americas. When the campaigning season started in March the strength of regular British forces in Canada would have been raised to over 50,000 (not counting the significant Canadian militias)- naval assets would have been moved much more easily.

This does, of course, pail beside the number of men recruited by the Union at the end of the war but then, facing a total land war commitment; eventual British recruitment would have been vast, especially given the size of the British Empire- *if* they had decided to go to a total war footing.

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Your scenario also lays open the question of the French. Which set of aggressive instincts would Napoleon III, then becoming hip-deep in Mexico, follow? Side with Britain and allow it a free hand in an American war that would necessarily adversely affect French commerce if there was even a chance of effective Federal retribution, or take advantage of Britain's distraction to rattle sabers with regard to European matters that would put the Palmerston government in a bind, and force it to curtail military efforts in America?

It can't be said for certain, but it is more likely that France would have sided with the UK as it would have given her a free hand in Mexico and, hey, it would be Britain doing all the fighting.

Historically the government of France did declare its willingness to "support" Britain in a war with the United States.

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You seem to have also placed a good deal of confidence in the resolve of the Parliamentarily-influential British commercial interests to provide the financial and political support over several years, and likely several military reverses along the way, that would allow that superfleet to come into existence and face the post-1863 Northern ironclads (that is to say, the warship builders might be in clover; the merchant shipbuilders and other important parts of the British economy relying on free trade might not be).

Again, I don't believe that Britain would have gone to war in the first place because it would neither have served her interests and probably led to a prolonged and costly war. However, *if* they had I don't doubt that a 'superfleet' would have been built. There is no way that Britain is going to accept naval inferiority outside of total national defeat in the 19th century.

Also, the merchant shipbuilders and other important parts of hte British economy relying on free trade depend utterly on the Royal Navy to keep the sea lanes open and secure- do you really think they're going to complain about more ironclads being built if they have Union raiders breathing down their necks?

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British resolve was proven not to be absolute by the fact of the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution...after that had ignited a world war of its own); and as I contended previously, after the first jingoistic parades there would come the sober realization of the bloody and expensive task ahead, on a matter which (British supremacy at sea), I humbly submit, would not be seen as an immediate threat to the Nation, not in comparison with France before 1870, or Germany after 1890.

The Treaty of Paris surrendered a colony that Britain had effectively acknowledged as lost since the defeat of Burgoyne. This came at a time when they were fighting a global wide war against several major European powers. The Treaty of Paris says nothing about resolve- it just shows that Britain was prepared to cut its losses so it could face and defeat other opponents in other theatres.

Likewise, after the first jingoistic parades are over what do you think the mood in the Union will be when they realise they are facing a superior industial power at a time when they still have a long and bloody fight to go with the Confederacy?

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It has been said that the North defeated the South with one arm tied behind its back. That is to say, as long as the resolve to fight remained strong, it would be impossible for the South to resist militarily, at least on conventional terms, an army that would swell to over two million by 1865, as capable as any in the world. Should Britain have crossed the figurative Rubicon as well as the Atlantic and openly allied itself with the Confederacy, would the CSA been ultimately successful with the relatively limited British support facing that army of two million a year earlier? I don't believe so; and its possible that Lincoln could have raised even another 500,000 with the greater ease than was needed to fight a war against follow Americans, as they would be seen as directed against an historically hated foreign power.

If the Union had such an easy time of it why did it take them *four* years to defeat a nation that was so industrially weaker than them?

Even with significant military supplies coming in from Great Britain (which would have made a massive difference to the Confederate war effort) I don't doubt in eventually the Union would have still won due to her greater population. But if the British Empire also fields a mass army and deploys that in the North Americas then its a whole other ball game.


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Best wishes.

Batrochides

Cheers, Tony

Edited by Talkie Toaster, 08 February 2006 - 03:16 PM.

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#73 G1223

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 08:38 PM

Well the problem with Britian comming in on the side of the south is that the Queen was opposed to the idea. This in a day and age where she might not be in control of the policies of the state she could have spoken publically about her displeasure and that would cause a reversal of policy. Victoria was very popular with her people.
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#74 Batrochides

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 12:35 AM

My dear Talkie Toaster, good evening.


Imperial Britain's transport fleet in the 1860s was (and indeed remained until the Great War) dedicated practically exclusively for shuttling battalions to and from India, with stops at the African posts as needed); even if ALL of its troopships were somehow concentrated in England, the logistical difficulty in sending a well-equipped force of 50,000 (recall that faced by the Crimean War expedition, even with support from France and the Turks insofar as beneficial waystops were concerned) would make a timetable of only six months from the beginning of reaction to the Trent boarding extremely unlikely, IMO. Further, what do you think win-at-all-costs Lincoln was going to do, sit back in his easy chair? No, we would and could have called for not  the 300,000 3-year enlistments, but 400,000 or even 500,000...that is to say, a North startled by the reality of succession in the South and the coming menace of a hated ex-colonial power making plans to invade from Canada and/or fighting side-by-side with the rebels, would (again, in my opinion) heeded another call for greater sacrifice and a rallying to the colors that would have begun the process of militerization to the eventual 2,000,000 man army at least one or even one-and-a-half years prior to the beginning of 1865, when that maximum troop level was achieved.

I'm rather surprised that you should think that the forces of "Empire" in 1862 would be anywhere as significant as they would be in the 1914-18 or 1939-45 wars. The Indian military sytem was still dealing with the aftermath of the Sepoy Mutiny, with much controversy on how best to restore military potency and reliability from a wrecked battalion system inherited from the "John" Company. African colonial development was in its infancy, with only the Cape Colony possessing substantial Euorpean war-caliber troops willing and able to fight in America; the colonies whose "native" forces made names for themselves in the World Wars, such as Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Kenya, were either scarcely more than a collection of trading posts or completely untouched by European adminstration. A contention that the Imperial government in the 1860s could create a colonial force of even small fraction of the efficiency and numbers seen in the World Wars is more than a bit fantastic to me.

You ask how the North would feel if they faced a "superior industrial power" while also struggling against the sedcessionist South? How about much the same as when the bloody defeats and half-victories of the Bull Runs, Peninsula Campaign, Antietem, and Fredricksburg did not significantly weaken  Lincoln's determination, nor cause the public to reject (albeit with misgivings) the President's calls for increased efforts, until the July 1863 victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg restored confidence in eventual victory.

All of this is but idle speculation, with each of us picking our respective historic cards to play that would support our respective contentions. You may believe that Britain would have been so enraged by the Trent and the blockade of the Southern ports that she would support a long, costly, bloody and distant war for little practical gain (and I'll concede that Britain did do much the same when she supported Belgium in 1914, but at least then Germany was seen as an immediate and possibly mortal threat against the Empire and even  Britain itself), I do not. I believe that the North--and Lincoln in particular--could have quickly enough developed the troops and arms needed to both decisively defeat the Confederate forces and still deal with any of Her Majesty's forces coming down from Canada or marching up from Southern ports, you may not.

Please accept my best wishes.

Batrochides

#75 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 05:11 PM

[quote name='Batrochides' date='Feb 9 2006, 05:35 AM' post='801137']
My dear Talkie Toaster, good evening.


Imperial Britain's transport fleet in the 1860s was (and indeed remained until the Great War) dedicated practically exclusively for shuttling battalions to and from India, with stops at the African posts as needed); even if ALL of its troopships were somehow concentrated in England, the logistical difficulty in sending a well-equipped force of 50,000 (recall that faced by the Crimean War expedition, even with support from France and the Turks insofar as beneficial waystops were concerned) would make a timetable of only six months from the beginning of reaction to the Trent boarding extremely unlikely, IMO.[/quote]

Thirteen screw transports had been chartered to carry British troops to the Americas, each capable of embarking  over a thousand troops with a round-trip time of about six weeks. (According to wiki...)

[quote]Further, what do you think win-at-all-costs Lincoln was going to do, sit back in his easy chair? No, we would and could have called for not  the 300,000 3-year enlistments, but 400,000 or even 500,000...that is to say, a North startled by the reality of succession in the South and the coming menace of a hated ex-colonial power making plans to invade from Canada and/or fighting side-by-side with the rebels, would (again, in my opinion) heeded another call for greater sacrifice and a rallying to the colors that would have begun the process of militerization to the eventual 2,000,000 man army at least one or even one-and-a-half years prior to the beginning of 1865, when that maximum troop level was achieved.[/quote]

At no point was the ration strength of the Union Army ever 2 million men during the civil war. It is true that 2.5 million men *enlisted* but the maximum ration strength of the Union army peaked in 1865 at one million men. As this did not include "absenties" actual fighting strength was closer to 650,000. The Union army's ration strength in 1863 was more than 900,000 and, looking at "absenties" actually had more men reporting for duty on 1st Jan 1863 than on the 1st 1865.

In light of this, I find your claims of the Union having a ration strength of over 2 million men by the middle of 1863 a bit fantastical.

[quote]I'm rather surprised that you should think that the forces of "Empire" in 1862 would be anywhere as significant as they would be in the 1914-18 or 1939-45 wars. The Indian military sytem was still dealing with the aftermath of the Sepoy Mutiny, with much controversy on how best to restore military potency and reliability from a wrecked battalion system inherited from the "John" Company. African colonial development was in its infancy, with only the Cape Colony possessing substantial Euorpean war-caliber troops willing and able to fight in America; the colonies whose "native" forces made names for themselves in the World Wars, such as Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Kenya, were either scarcely more than a collection of trading posts or completely untouched by European adminstration. A contention that the Imperial government in the 1860s could create a colonial force of even small fraction of the efficiency and numbers seen in the World Wars is more than a bit fantastic to me.[/quote]

I am thinking principally of Canada (who would have fieled significant forces given the risk of invasion from the Union). Fair point as regards India however- involvement of Indian forces would depend on how long the war lasted, although historically Indian troops did not do well in European type climates.

[quote]You ask how the North would feel if they faced a "superior industrial power" while also struggling against the sedcessionist South? How about much the same as when the bloody defeats and half-victories of the Bull Runs, Peninsula Campaign, Antietem, and Fredricksburg did not significantly weaken  Lincoln's determination, nor cause the public to reject (albeit with misgivings) the President's calls for increased efforts, until the July 1863 victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg restored confidence in eventual victory.[/quote]

So British experiences in successfully slogging through long and protracted struggles from Napoleon to Hitler are dismissed as being irrelivent, yet the historical actions of the Union are relevent? If the British examples are disregared then so to must the US example, as in this case the Union is no longer fighting "with one arm tied behind their back" but rather facing a combination of opponents that present the real possibility of defeat.

[quote]All of this is but idle speculation, with each of us picking our respective historic cards to play that would support our respective contentions. You may believe that Britain would have been so enraged by the Trent and the blockade of the Southern ports that she would support a long, costly, bloody and distant war for little practical gain (and I'll concede that Britain did do much the same when she supported Belgium in 1914, but at least then Germany was seen as an immediate and possibly mortal threat against the Empire and even  Britain itself), I do not.[/quopte]

I have stated several times in this thread that I do not agree with this assessment (it was CJ Aegis that orginally suggested it). Britain had a number of astute politicans at the time and all realised that involvement in the Civil War would be a risky and costly busy for them with the benifit to themselves. I think that a major war between the Union and Britain would have been costly for both and of benifit to neither.

[quote]I believe that the North--and Lincoln in particular--could have quickly enough developed the troops and arms needed to both decisively defeat the Confederate forces and still deal with any of Her Majesty's forces coming down from Canada or marching up from Southern ports, you may not.[/quote]

What I am arguing against is that in the unlikely event of British involvement the likely course of events would not be Canada "becoming a tasty snack for the Union" and the Royal Navy being swept from the seas by a fleet of US super ironclads.

I disagree with your argument that the Union would have had no problem mobilizing to an even greater extent than she did historically while Britain would have had problems getting to even a partial war footing.

[quote]Please accept my best wishes.

Batrochides
[/quote]

Cheers, Tony

Edited by Talkie Toaster, 09 February 2006 - 05:38 PM.

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#76 G-man

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:11 PM

Well, I think you're overlooking the fact that Russia threw in its lot with the North (USA), and in fact had posted its navy in NY Harbor, which also played a role in quieting the British enthusiasm for going to war against the US.

Russia was Britain's main antagonist at this point, and was in a position to move in on the British Territories in Asia.  So the question arises, was Britain willing to lose India (which included Pakistan) and what influence they had in Afghanistan to Russia in a bid to help the South?

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#77 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 04:31 PM

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G-Man: Well, I think you're overlooking the fact that Russia threw in its lot with the North (USA), and in fact had posted its navy in NY Harbor, which also played a role in quieting the British enthusiasm for going to war against the US.

You actually raise an excellent point as to how many military resources Britain could spare with Russia breathing down her back. With the Russians likely to jump on England if they pressed the Union too much the Royal Navy would have had to turn their attention in two directions.  If anything Russia showed a propensity for tossing in her lot with the United States by applying diplomatic pressure to England during both the Revolutionary and War of 1812. If anything the very public stand of Russia with the Union was very well known.  Russia went so far as to send diplomatic communiqués stating that they stood by the Union when England was hostile and would continue to stand by it to the end.    


Found an interesting article by Marx of all people on the Trent Affair:
The Trent Case

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The greatest American authority, Kent, states in the same sense:
"The right of self-preservation gives belligerent nations this right. The doctrine of the British admiralty on the right of visitation and search ... has been recognised in its fullest extent by the courts of justice in our country."
It was not opposition to the right of search, as is sometimes erroneously suggested, that brought about the Anglo-American War of 1812 to 1814. Rather, America declared war because England unlawfully presumed to search even American warships, on the pretext of catching deserters from the British Navy.
The San Jacinto, therefore, had the right to search the Trent and to confiscate any contraband stowed aboard her.

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TT: British ironclad construction would have been altered massively by a war with the Union, so saying that they would having inferior Ironclads (which is pretty debatable in itself) for the entire war is a bit far fetched.
British ironclad construction was limited by the requirements of what they needed for the war.  British ironclads needed to be large oceangoing vessels that could make long voyages and then maintain a station off the enemy coast.  To accomplish this task a vessel could not be as well armored or protected as the Union monitors.  Effectively the British ironclads were an armored box for the gun battery and a few other parts of the ship inside a thin metal shell of a hull.  A fully armored oceangoing ship with sufficient range and sea keeping capability with built up armored sides was just not within the technological reach of time.  Like now warship design was a compromise and the Royal Navy realized that the then more heavily armored monitor style vessels were the wrong type of vessels for them.  These types of warships would have never been able to maintain long-term blockade stations to prevent USN monitors from challenging the blockade.  

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TT: As for maintaining the blockade, it cuts both ways- the historical ironclads were not ideal for breaking a coastal blockade of the Confederacy, but would have been ideal for a distant blockade of the North- something the Union could have done precious little about, given a lack of ocean going ironclads.
Monitors from the Passaic Class on were more than capable of breaking a distant blockade of the Union.  As I have proven through several instances of monitors riding out heavy seas they were seaworthy ships.  They may not have had the capability to cross entire oceans or maintain stations off ports for weeks.  That said they had more than enough capability to venture out into the sea to defeat a British blockading force and then return to port.  On top of that distant sea blockades were not the capable tool that many thought they were at this point.  The Union in their blockade of the south found that their large frigates were poorly suited for blockade duty because they maintained station far off the coast and other vessels could easily slip around them.  The blockade would have to be maintained at a distance that the monitors could travel out to if they wanted any chance of success.    

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TT: As designed, they had 4in wrought iron plate bolted to the hull and were armed with sixteen 68 pounder guns…. Then again, CSS Virginia didn’t do too badly with low grade iron armour.
The CSS Virginia had 4 inches of armor.  The 11” Dahlgren guns armoring the monitor and some wooden Union warships was capable of penetrating this amount of armor without a problem.  The issue with the Battle of Hampton Roads is that the USS Monitor was restricted to firing half charges.  No one knew what a full charge would do if fired in the turret because there was no time to test.  No one wanted the one chance to counter the Virginia damage by a hastily fired full charge.  Even with half charges the Monitor cracked the Virginia’s armored plate.  Subsequent testing showed that the full charges were safe to use in the turret.  If the Monitor had been using full charges the Virginia most likely would have been disabled due to penetration into her hull.  

The Dahlgren 11” was actually tested against existing European and Confederate armor scheme and it was found with full charges and increased charges that it could punch clean through them.  Even wooden warships in the USN armed with Dahlgren cannons would have been able to punch through the armor of the Defence Class or HMS Warrior.  The Dahlgren cannons were easily the superiors to any weapon that armed Royal Navy warships.  

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TT: There is no way that Britain is going to accept naval inferiority outside of total national defeat in the 19th century.
The British never came up with an effective countermeasure to the 44 gun frigates of the USN following the War of 1812.  The only solution they had was to throw enough vessels at the problem that they could bottle up those vessels.  This was due to the fact that the Royal Navy realized in ship to ship matches they were inferior to the 44s.  In addition your suggestion to pull Warrior off the coast of England would have placed England in a position of naval inferiority to the French and perhaps Russia also.  

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TT:
My original point was that Britain could have easily churned out costal defence ships to free up her premier ironclads, although now that you mention it churning out monitor like vessels and towing them across the Atlantic would also have been doable. As for supply lines, I’m sure the CSA would have happily allowed RN ships to operate from her ports.
The monitor class vessels were fairly unique and complicated naval vessel that was largely the genius of John Erickson.  I don’t see the Royal Navy being able to replicate the unique turret and constructing of these vessels in a relatively short amount of time.  The design as was met a lot of resistance in the US Navy and would have likely met more resistance in the Royal Navy.  I doubt the Royal Navy would have taken this change of tactics without having already suffered losses by their conventional ironclads to monitors.  By this point the British public is likely to be clambering for the heads of the government officials to get them out of the war.  In addition CSA ports are too far away from Union ports to be in anyway an effective way for coastal ironclads to blockade ports in the North.  The final point is the Dahlgren 11” and 15” cannons were a lot of the reason why the monitors were so effective with the British seriously lacking in guns that equaled their throw weight or capability of both cannons.

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TT: Any reading of Palmerston’s career will indicate he was an able politician and leader. Prince Albert might well have felt the need to tone the letter down, but the actual demands as far as I know were still the same.  While it might well have helped defuse the situation, I am by no means convinced that it would mean war, especially after the initial ‘excitement’ of the Trent affair had calmed down.

In this case at least Palmerston was a hothead and Albert was clearly the man who kept a level head.  The initial demands that were altered by Prince Albert did not give the United States enough time to seriously consider the content of the messages.  Two messages were sent with one stating that the British ambassador would be pulled out of Washington in seven days if the government failed to respond in a favorable manner.  In addition Albert changed the demand for an apology to a request.  In addition he changed the language to suggest that the British hoped the American captain acted without direction from the government.  This gave Sec State Seward that out that he needed to save honor and face and avert war.  

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TT: Thirteen screw transports had been chartered to carry British troops to the Americas, each capable of embarking over a thousand troops with a round-trip time of about six weeks. (According to wiki...)
In the scale of the Civil War 13,000 troops would be a drop in the bucket.  We were losing that many troops in a single day of combat in many cases during the major battles.  Considering the lack of British resolve when the Boer’s inflicted losses on them I question whether the British would have the stomach to send their men into the meat grinder that was the Civil War.  Unlike World War I the Union is a distant power that is no threat to England and the South is fighting to preserve slavery.  I give resolve of the British Public a very short time when the body count starts rolling up into the tens of thousands from a conflict with a country  

On top of this those thirteen transports are a fairly miniscule number of vessels to support the operations of a large army in the field on a distant continent.  They might be able to make two trips with men before they would be reduced to having to carry supplies to support that army in the field.  Toss in Union Navy raiding forces hitting the supply lines and the British could easily find themselves in a serious supply crunch.

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TT: At no point was the ration strength of the Union Army ever 2 million men during the civil war.
Even with your figures the Union had a massive pool of manpower that was never exploited to its fullest potential. One thing to consider is that the Civil War against the south often introduced some division into the conflict but never enough to deter the north.  Britain declaring war on the Union would have introduced an outside threat.  If anything the people of a nation tend to rally around the military and political leadership when an outside threat as dire as another nation state presents itself.   This would have brought up enlistment in the Union Army and pushed it past those levels that the British could have countered.

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TT: Also, the merchant shipbuilders and other important parts of hte British economy relying on free trade depend utterly on the Royal Navy to keep the sea lanes open and secure- do you really think they're going to complain about more ironclads being built if they have Union raiders breathing down their necks?
Or they’ll just use their political clout to force the British government into dropping out of the war after suffering several embarrassing losses against the Union because winning the war wouldn’t give them any benefits.  

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TT: If the Union had such an easy time of it why did it take them *four* years to defeat a nation that was so industrially weaker than them?
Incompetent leadership on the part of the senior general in charge of the Union Army until that pattern was turned a bit by Meade and then changed forever by Grant.  The same could be asked why it was such a big fight for France and Britain to beat the backwards and inferior Russian forces in the Crimean War.  

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TT: I am thinking principally of Canada (who would have fieled significant forces given the risk of invasion from the Union). Fair point as regards India however- involvement of Indian forces would depend on how long the war lasted, although historically Indian troops did not do well in European type climates.
Canada’s population at that time would have been somewhere around 3 million or so if I recall correct.  The population of the Union around this time was somewhere near 20 million.  So overall Canada had no capability to even dream of challenging the military resources of the Union.  On top of this the Union was mobilized for war and had the capability to mobilize at a more rapid pace if they needed to.  Canada on the other hand had a few ragtag militia troops and a handful of regular troops.  The cited number of 50,000 troops is not enough to even consider defending that much territory.  

These troops were often poorly equipped with many British troops still carrying the Brown Bess compared to the rifled muskets of the Union.  The Fenians (not even a real military) were able to trounce two Canadian militia forces in the Niagara Raid.  The Fenians were only forced to retreat when the USS Michigan cut off their ability to get additional reinforcements.  Considering the Canadian Militia was in danger from the ragtag Fenians then the Union Army would have steamrolled them in a few weeks.  Effectively Canada with her existing forces that were present would have been quickly steamrolled.  Most of the settlements were along the border with the US within easy reach of the Union Army.  

This is not 1812 with a under equipped small US Army facing Canada but rather them facing the most advanced, largest, and most experienced army in the world with meager forces.  The war in Canada would be over before Britain could send in significant numbers of troops or raise/train troops in Canada.

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TT: So British experiences in successfully slogging through long and protracted struggles from Napoleon to Hitler are dismissed as being irrelivent, yet the historical actions of the Union are relevent?
Napoleon and both World Wars directly threatened Britain and the fight was a matter of survival in the eyes of the people.  The United States had no interest in conquering England.  A war against the Union is war that has no payoff for the British except restoring pride that was hurt in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Trent Affair.  The south represented a economic system that the British public had long since rejected and would have liked to of seen vanish.  Southern Cotton was a direct competitor with cotton resources within the Empire.  Toss in losing tens or hundreds of thousands of troops and bleeding out the Empire in North America the British Public is not going to stomach this war for long.

The British Public and government didn’t even manage to stomach a long-term fight to the end with the infantile United States in 1812.  The war instead ended in maintaining the status quo despite several humiliating defeats on the seas for Britain.  Give the Union Army and Navy enough time and they would have bloodied the British enough that they would have lost the will to fight a conflict that they forced themselves to fight through bad diplomacy.  


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TT: It can't be said for certain, but it is more likely that France would have sided with the UK as it would have given her a free hand in Mexico and, hey, it would be Britain doing all the fighting.
If anything looking through the recent historical scholarship there seems to have been a fear in Britain over France exploiting the situation.  The Earl of Clarendon wrote that he would have been glad for war with the Union: “I shall be glad of it, if I did not feel sure that Napoleon will instantly leave us in this lurch and do something in Europe that we can’t stand”.  Napoleon was no friend of England but rather an ambitious man who sought to gain an upper hand over any potential opponent.  Europe was the ultimate prize to gain influence over and with British eyes on the Americas Napoleon would have had the perfect opportunity to stab the British in the back.  Now he might not have done that for sure but you can rest assured the British would have it in mind in their military deployments.  

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TT: Also, Warrior type vessels do not have to sit within site of US ports and let the US plink away at them- they can enforce a distant blockade out on the seas.
Monitors from the Passaic Class onward were effective short distance seagoing vessels that easily rode out storms that forced some wooden vessels to run for shore.  A Passaic could easily venture out to sea long enough to drive off or destroy a warrior class vessel maintaining a distant blockade.  With one Dahlgren 11” and one Dahlgren 15” as Passaic Class could make short work of the type of armor that Warrior was fitted with.  

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The very distant blockade conducted against Germany in WW1 wasn't a paper blockade at all- it was stunningly effective.
When you have wireless you can maintain an effective blockade at that type of distance.  Your vessels can then communicate with each other over long distances to maintain the solidity of the blockade.  In addition the quality of optics by the time of World War I had vastly improved so it was far easier to spot vessels trying to slip through the holes.  The Union Navy tried distant blockades of several Southern ports and just found it to be technologically unfeasible.  

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TT:
The spring of 1862 would have been nearly half a year since the start of the Trent Crisis- this would have given plenty of time for the British to move forces to the North Americas. When the campaigning season started in March the strength of regular British forces in Canada would have been raised to over 50,000 (not counting the significant Canadian militias)- naval assets would have been moved much more easily.
I would say that war would likely break out sometime around March or April of 1862 in earnest.  As I noted the 50,000 troops into Canada would really be little more than a drop in the bucket for the defense of Canada.  The British in their own war council meeting consisting of Palmerston, Lewis, Somerset, and Newcastle concluded that Canadian militias were wholly outnumbered, untrained, and undersupplied for a war.  In addition there was no armaments stocked for the reinforcements that would be incoming.  By March the British would have sufficient troops in Canada to at least consider fighting something of a defensive war if the Union turned north.  

That said kicking off general hostilities and striking at the Union with naval forces before the buildup in Canada was completed would just invite the Union to turn north and cutoff Canada from Britain before they could buildup could accomplish anything.  The British are unlikely to forget that the States had attacked Canada during the winter in the War for Independence.  While those efforts were a failure the Civil War introduced railroad a supply system that could still move goods during the winter and supply a winter foray into Canada.  A winter campaign might not be able to defeat Canada but it could take the major population centers and leave the British off balanced for the start of the campaign season.  All the US has to do is cut the Saint Lawrence to make the hold on Canada far less sustainable.

In addition the Royal Navy is likely to be wary to send the Warrior across the Atlantic to face the Union Navy not just because of the long stand rivalry with France but because of the Russians breathing down their necks.  Russia had the third largest Navy and in conjunction with the Union Navy they could have put a world of hurt on the Royal Navy. I can’t see Britain sending off her defensive wild card to the Americas when the Russians are breathing down on the British Isles.  On top of this the Russian Navy had an ironclad vessel in the form of the Opyt.  I have to dig around and find information on this vessel since it seems to be very scarce.  Even a poor man’s ironclad could present sufficient threat to the wooden vessels of the RN to keep Warrior tied to the British Isles.

So overall it would have been inadvisable and extremely out of character for the British to commence general hostilities before March or April of 1862.

Edited by CJ AEGIS, 10 February 2006 - 04:34 PM.

"History has proven too often and too recently that the nation which relaxes its defenses invites attack."
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#78 Talkie Toaster

Talkie Toaster

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 06:38 PM

View PostCJ AEGIS, on Feb 10 2006, 09:31 PM, said:

You actually raise an excellent point as to how many military resources Britain could spare with Russia breathing down her back. With the Russians likely to jump on England if they pressed the Union too much the Royal Navy would have had to turn their attention in two directions.  If anything Russia showed a propensity for tossing in her lot with the United States by applying diplomatic pressure to England during both the Revolutionary and War of 1812. If anything the very public stand of Russia with the Union was very well known.  Russia went so far as to send diplomatic communiqués stating that they stood by the Union when England was hostile and would continue to stand by it to the end.

Again, while pressure from Russia was one of many reasons why British military involvement in the ACW was highly unlikely, Russia's wooden fleet, while significant, was massively outmatched by the Royal Navy. As regards Ironclads, Russia's industry was woefully inadequate to support such a fleet during this period- all ironclads that the Russian fleet operated in the 70s and 80s were either foreign manufactured or inferior to contempory British designs. And frequently both.    

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The greatest American authority, Kent, states in the same sense:
"The right of self-preservation gives belligerent nations this right. The doctrine of the British admiralty on the right of visitation and search ... has been recognised in its fullest extent by the courts of justice in our country."
It was not opposition to the right of search, as is sometimes erroneously suggested, that brought about the Anglo-American War of 1812 to 1814. Rather, America declared war because England unlawfully presumed to search even American warships, on the pretext of catching deserters from the British Navy.
The San Jacinto, therefore, had the right to search the Trent and to confiscate any contraband stowed aboard her.

I'd always be a bit weary of anything said by Marx. In any case, if diplomats count as "contraband", then RN deserters would as well...

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British ironclad construction was limited by the requirements of what they needed for the war.  British ironclads needed to be large oceangoing vessels that could make long voyages and then maintain a station off the enemy coast.  To accomplish this task a vessel could not be as well armored or protected as the Union monitors.  Effectively the British ironclads were an armored box for the gun battery and a few other parts of the ship inside a thin metal shell of a hull.  A fully armored oceangoing ship with sufficient range and sea keeping capability with built up armored sides was just not within the technological reach of time.  Like now warship design was a compromise and the Royal Navy realized that the then more heavily armored monitor style vessels were the wrong type of vessels for them.  These types of warships would have never been able to maintain long-term blockade stations to prevent USN monitors from challenging the blockade.

Saying that they were just armoured boxes is a bit of a simplification- it is essentially the start of the "all of nothing" scheme that was adopted in the next century. The interior of the ship was compartmentalised so signficant damage could be taken to the relatively unarmoured sections of the ship before its structure was totally compromised, while damaging the its gun-line or machinary would have been much more difficult- the only serious weakness in the Warrior's protection was the steering.

That said, Warrior's armour was much superior inch for inch to that used on the Monitor, as it was 4.5" rolled plate rather than 1" plates laminated together.

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Monitors from the Passaic Class on were more than capable of breaking a distant blockade of the Union.  As I have proven through several instances of monitors riding out heavy seas they were seaworthy ships.  They may not have had the capability to cross entire oceans or maintain stations off ports for weeks.  That said they had more than enough capability to venture out into the sea to defeat a British blockading force and then return to port.  On top of that distant sea blockades were not the capable tool that many thought they were at this point.  The Union in their blockade of the south found that their large frigates were poorly suited for blockade duty because they maintained station far off the coast and other vessels could easily slip around them.  The blockade would have to be maintained at a distance that the monitors could travel out to if they wanted any chance of success.


I agree that the later monitors were seaworthy, in the sense that they would not sink in rough weather. This doess not mean that they could fight in open waters. The limiting factor here is the extent to which they could fight with water breaking over them. Monitors carried their guns low, and reserve buoyancy was minimal. A few good waves striking with the gunports open would quickly make for a very unhappy ship.

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The CSS Virginia had 4 inches of armor.  The 11” Dahlgren guns armoring the monitor and some wooden Union warships was capable of penetrating this amount of armor without a problem.  The issue with the Battle of Hampton Roads is that the USS Monitor was restricted to firing half charges.  No one knew what a full charge would do if fired in the turret because there was no time to test.  No one wanted the one chance to counter the Virginia damage by a hastily fired full charge.  Even with half charges the Monitor cracked the Virginia’s armored plate.  Subsequent testing showed that the full charges were safe to use in the turret.  If the Monitor had been using full charges the Virginia most likely would have been disabled due to penetration into her hull.

The metal used in Virginia's was hardly armour grade- the Confederates had had to use railway track to armour the boat. That the Monitor should have been able to penetrate this less than ideal protection scheme does not suprise me.  

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The Dahlgren 11” was actually tested against existing European and Confederate armor scheme and it was found with full charges and increased charges that it could punch clean through them.  Even wooden warships in the USN armed with Dahlgren cannons would have been able to punch through the armor of the Defence Class or HMS Warrior.  The Dahlgren cannons were easily the superiors to any weapon that armed Royal Navy warships.
  

The armour scheme used on the Warrior had also been tested and found largely impervious to any gun available at the time. Granted this changed very rapidly but then again, only a few years after Warrior had been built the RN had new ironclads that made it look obsolete by comparison.

The Dahlgrens were quite low-velocity guns - superb shell-firing guns, but sub-optimal against armour. Theitr best chance of breaking armour was to shatter the frames and armour attachments by repeated heavy impacts, and the 18" of teak backing behind Warrior's plate was intended specifically to damp shock waves in the bolts holding the
armour to the hull. At point-blank ranged I don't doubt they'd break though, but at that sort of range Warrior would be firing down onto the deck of the Monitor and into the turret top.

Also, a range of heavy high velocity smoothbores were available in Britain by 1863 including 100pdr Somerset guns and Armstrong guns up to 300pdr.

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The British never came up with an effective countermeasure to the 44 gun frigates of the USN following the War of 1812.  The only solution they had was to throw enough vessels at the problem that they could bottle up those vessels.  This was due to the fact that the Royal Navy realized in ship to ship matches they were inferior to the 44s.

I agree, ship for ship, the 44 gun frigates were superior to the smaller frigates of the Royal Navy. However, the US Navy had no chance at all of going toe to toe with a fleet of Royal Navy ships-of-the-line. This is why it was American shipping, and not British shipping, that was swept from the seas.

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In addition your suggestion to pull Warrior off the coast of England would have placed England in a position of naval inferiority to the French and perhaps Russia also.

This only matters if France or Russia actually declare war on Britain. Historically Warrior was actually assigned to the North Atlantic Station during the Trent Crisis- clearly, the Admiralty felt it was justified.
  

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The monitor class vessels were fairly unique and complicated naval vessel that was largely the genius of John Erickson.  I don’t see the Royal Navy being able to replicate the unique turret and constructing of these vessels in a relatively short amount of time.  The design as was met a lot of resistance in the US Navy and would have likely met more resistance in the Royal Navy.  I doubt the Royal Navy would have taken this change of tactics without having already suffered losses by their conventional ironclads to monitors. By this point the British public is likely to be clambering for the heads of the government officials to get them out of the war.In addition CSA ports are too far away from Union ports to be in anyway an effective way for coastal ironclads to blockade ports in the North.  The final point is the Dahlgren 11” and 15” cannons were a lot of the reason why the monitors were so effective with the British seriously lacking in guns that equaled their throw weight or capability of both cannons.

The assumption by so many people that the British government and military high command never fail to act so stupidly in their alternate histories never ceases to amaze me.

While the admiraly historically did act rather conservatively (not suprisingly as they wanted to maintain a status quo that gave the RN massive naval superiority) they were very quick to act to threats. When the Glorie began construction the admiralty did not simple copy the design, but deliberately moved onto a superior class of vessel and proceded to build them in greater numbers. During the Crimean war when it was found that wooden ships of the line were not ideal for taking on Russian forts. In response, the British built ironclad coastal vessels and towed them over, all without having to undergo a major naval disaster.

If the British had faced Union designs that were increasingly uparmoured and upgunned guess what their response would have been?

As for Britain lacking the ability to build turret armed coastal ironclads- they had put a turret equipped vessel through trials *before* Monitor had even begun construction.

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In this case at least Palmerston was a hothead and Albert was clearly the man who kept a level head.  The initial demands that were altered by Prince Albert did not give the United States enough time to seriously consider the content of the messages.  Two messages were sent with one stating that the British ambassador would be pulled out of Washington in seven days if the government failed to respond in a favorable manner.  In addition Albert changed the demand for an apology to a request.  In addition he changed the language to suggest that the British hoped the American captain acted without direction from the government.  This gave Sec State Seward that out that he needed to save honor and face and avert war.
  

I don't believe a single letter was the difference between war and peace. Palmerston might well have been hopeing for some grovelling from the Union (which he might well have gotten) but given the choice between a protracted war that gains nothing and peace with a country the British really have no axe to grind against he would have chosen the latter.

In any case, a more strongly worded letter would not have changed the validity of Seward's reply (We regret what happened, but nice to know you agree about our reasons for war in 1812 etc)

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In the scale of the Civil War 13,000 troops would be a drop in the bucket.  We were losing that many troops in a single day of combat in many cases during the major battles.  Considering the lack of British resolve when the Boer’s inflicted losses on them I question whether the British would have the stomach to send their men into the meat grinder that was the Civil War.  Unlike World War I the Union is a distant power that is no threat to England and the South is fighting to preserve slavery.  I give resolve of the British Public a very short time when the body count starts rolling up into the tens of thousands from a conflict with a country

At least 50,000 regulars would have been available for service if a war broke out in early 1862 which, added to the local militias, would have been entirely efficent to conduct a defence of Canada given the state of the Union Army at the time. While such forces would not have been sufficent to conduct a land invasion of the US this is unlikely to have been a serious objective for the British unless the war really escalated; by which point British recruitment would have been seriously expanded.  

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On top of this those thirteen transports are a fairly miniscule number of vessels to support the operations of a large army in the field on a distant continent.  They might be able to make two trips with men before they would be reduced to having to carry supplies to support that army in the field.  Toss in Union Navy raiding forces hitting the supply lines and the British could easily find themselves in a serious supply crunch.

No less than 275,000 Crimea medals were issued to all members of the British forces who took part in the Crimean war which should give some of British ability to support forces. I find it beyond belief that the world's largest merchant marine would have had difficulty supporting a mere 50,000 men.

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Even with your figures the Union had a massive pool of manpower that was never exploited to its fullest potential. One thing to consider is that the Civil War against the south often introduced some division into the conflict but never enough to deter the north.  Britain declaring war on the Union would have introduced an outside threat.  If anything the people of a nation tend to rally around the military and political leadership when an outside threat as dire as another nation state presents itself.   This would have brought up enlistment in the Union Army and pushed it past those levels that the British could have countered.

Available British manpower was greater than available Union manpower.

I acknowledge that public support for the war would have been a major factor in the war, but if this is to be considered seriously then it must be equally applied to both sides. Sorry, I cannot accept as serious an argument that, as she was warring against a foreign nation state, the Union would have been able to mobilize quicker and better than historically with no moral problems at all while Britain, faced with the same problem, would have been wracked with protests and the ability to even build extra warships.

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Or they’ll just use their political clout to force the British government into dropping out of the war after suffering several embarrassing losses against the Union because winning the war wouldn’t give them any benefits.

Every time that British merchant shipping was badly threatened historically the first response was demands to eradicate the problem from the sea, not capitulate to their demands.  

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Incompetent leadership on the part of the senior general in charge of the Union Army until that pattern was turned a bit by Meade and then changed forever by Grant.  The same could be asked why it was such a big fight for France and Britain to beat the backwards and inferior Russian forces in the Crimean War.

The Russian forces outnumbered the Allies nearly two to one in the Crimea, and suffered casualties far in excess to what the Allies took. Can the Union claim the same?

In any case, I am not the one claiming that the French and British won the Crimean war "with one hand tied behind their backs".  

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Canada’s population at that time would have been somewhere around 3 million or so if I recall correct.  The population of the Union around this time was somewhere near 20 million.  So overall Canada had no capability to even dream of challenging the military resources of the Union.  On top of this the Union was mobilized for war and had the capability to mobilize at a more rapid pace if they needed to.  Canada on the other hand had a few ragtag militia troops and a handful of regular troops.  The cited number of 50,000 troops is not enough to even consider defending that much territory.

Available Canadian militia was an additional 50,000, and planned to be double to 100,000. Comparing the Canadians directly to the Union is meaningless as the Union would not be able to focus their assets solely on the Canadians.  

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These troops were often poorly equipped with many British troops still carrying the Brown Bess compared to the rifled muskets of the Union.  The Fenians (not even a real military) were able to trounce two Canadian militia forces in the Niagara Raid.  The Fenians were only forced to retreat when the USS Michigan cut off their ability to get additional reinforcements.  Considering the Canadian Militia was in danger from the ragtag Fenians then the Union Army would have steamrolled them in a few weeks.  Effectively Canada with her existing forces that were present would have been quickly steamrolled.  Most of the settlements were along the border with the US within easy reach of the Union Army.

Inexperienced and under-equipped Canadian militas would quickly have become experienced and well armed from British stocks in the event of a serious war rather than just raids from rebels.

As regards Niagara, while the Michigan was responsible for preventing escape and forcing surrender, I seem to recall that the reason the Fenians were retreating in the first place was because a large force of British regulars were about to turn up?  

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This is not 1812 with a under equipped small US Army facing Canada but rather them facing the most advanced, largest, and most experienced army in the world with meager forces.  The war in Canada would be over before Britain could send in significant numbers of troops or raise/train troops in Canada.

In 1862 the Union Army was still going through serious growing pains before it became the mighty military machine of 64/65. While it might have been possible to bulldoze through Canada fast enough to prevent Britain landing troops it would have been very hard to do this and I find it unlikely. Further, what forces the Union could spare from the Confederate front would at this point have not been much more experienced than the Canadian forces they would be oppossing.

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Napoleon and both World Wars directly threatened Britain and the fight was a matter of survival in the eyes of the people.  The United States had no interest in conquering England.  A war against the Union is war that has no payoff for the British except restoring pride that was hurt in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Trent Affair.

I think you underestimate how important sea power was to Britain at the time. Union privatations on British shipping, like the Trent affair, would have been seen as a direct threat to British survival. Remember that Britain is an island nation- a threat against her fleet not only threatens her great power status, but her very existance as an independent nation.  

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The south represented a economic system that the British public had long since rejected and would have liked to of seen vanish.  Southern Cotton was a direct competitor with cotton resources within the Empire.  Toss in losing tens or hundreds of thousands of troops and bleeding out the Empire in North America the British Public is not going to stomach this war for long.

This is exactally why they were unlikely to get into a war in the first place.

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The British Public and government didn’t even manage to stomach a long-term fight to the end with the infantile United States in 1812.  The war instead ended in maintaining the status quo despite several humiliating defeats on the seas for Britain.  Give the Union Army and Navy enough time and they would have bloodied the British enough that they would have lost the will to fight a conflict that they forced themselves to fight through bad diplomacy.

Er...  the British were in the middle of a conflict against France that has been waging on and off for twenty years. Saying that the British couldn't stomach a sideshow in the US shows a lack of understanding of Britain's overall commitments at this time period.

The British had never wanted a war in the Americas in the first place. Whether you argue the US was justified or not it was the US that initiated hostilities. While ambitions may have expanded in 1813 after the total failure of the US military effort in 1812 all the British basically wanted was an end to hostilies having had to fight Napoleon for some two decades. When the opportunity for such a peace came they took it.

Using the same argument, the American Public didn't even manage to stomach a long-term fight against massively overstretched British forces. The war ended in maintaing the status quo despite several humiliating American defeats having solved nothing that brought the Amerians into conflict in the first place. Give the British Army and Navy enough time and they would have bloodied the Union enough that they would have lost the will to fight a conflict that they forced themselves to fight through the over-aggression of one USN captain.

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If anything looking through the recent historical scholarship there seems to have been a fear in Britain over France exploiting the situation.  The Earl of Clarendon wrote that he would have been glad for war with the Union: “I shall be glad of it, if I did not feel sure that Napoleon will instantly leave us in this lurch and do something in Europe that we can’t stand”. Napoleon was no friend of England but rather an ambitious man who sought to gain an upper hand over any potential opponent.  Europe was the ultimate prize to gain influence over and with British eyes on the Americas Napoleon would have had the perfect opportunity to stab the British in the back.  Now he might not have done that for sure but you can rest assured the British would have it in mind in their military deployments.

I'm rather more interested in what Napoleon wrote than what the Earl of Clarendon wrote. The French were active in Mexico, they wanted influence there, and this could have earily been obtained by siding with Britain against the Union, rather than risking total defeat against the world's most powerful sea going fleet.    

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When you have wireless you can maintain an effective blockade at that type of distance.  Your vessels can then communicate with each other over long distances to maintain the solidity of the blockade.  In addition the quality of optics by the time of World War I had vastly improved so it was far easier to spot vessels trying to slip through the holes.  The Union Navy tried distant blockades of several Southern ports and just found it to be technologically unfeasible.

Fair point. I've done a bit of reading and the Union blockade was actually pretty 'sieve like' until 1863/64 onwards.    

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I would say that war would likely break out sometime around March or April of 1862 in earnest.  As I noted the 50,000 troops into Canada would really be little more than a drop in the bucket for the defense of Canada.  The British in their own war council meeting consisting of Palmerston, Lewis, Somerset, and Newcastle concluded that Canadian militias were wholly outnumbered, untrained, and undersupplied for a war.  In addition there was no armaments stocked for the reinforcements that would be incoming.  By March the British would have sufficient troops in Canada to at least consider fighting something of a defensive war if the Union turned north.

I consider an offensive land campaign by the British to be highly unlikely- most of their actions are likely to be naval. Given available Regular troops reinforcements its highly likely a credible defence of Canada would have been made given the need to keep large numbers of troops facing the Confederates and guarding ports against possible RN operations.  

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That said kicking off general hostilities and striking at the Union with naval forces before the buildup in Canada was completed would just invite the Union to turn north and cutoff Canada from Britain before they could buildup could accomplish anything.  The British are unlikely to forget that the States had attacked Canada during the winter in the War for Independence. While those efforts were a failure the Civil War introduced railroad a supply system that could still move goods during the winter and supply a winter foray into Canada.  A winter campaign might not be able to defeat Canada but it could take the major population centers and leave the British off balanced for the start of the campaign season.  All the US has to do is cut the Saint Lawrence to make the hold on Canada far less sustainable.

Another major factor in the failure of the winter expeditions during the Revolutionary war was that the Americans were counting on local support. Unfortunately for them, the local populance wanted to stay British. The US assumed the same thing during the initial campaigns of 1812, that the Canadians didn't want to be part of the Empire.

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In addition the Royal Navy is likely to be wary to send the Warrior across the Atlantic to face the Union Navy not just because of the long stand rivalry with France but because of the Russians breathing down their necks.  Russia had the third largest Navy and in conjunction with the Union Navy they could have put a world of hurt on the Royal Navy. I can’t see Britain sending off her defensive wild card to the Americas when the Russians are breathing down on the British Isles.  On top of this the Russian Navy had an ironclad vessel in the form of the Opyt.  I have to dig around and find information on this vessel since it seems to be very scarce.  Even a poor man’s ironclad could present sufficient threat to the wooden vessels of the RN to keep Warrior tied to the British Isles.

Historically the Warrior was assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron during the Trent Affair, clearly the Royal Navy was prepared to send the ship across the Atlantic.

I'd like more information on the Opyt, although I doubt it was any more capable than the decrepit floating batteries the Royal Navy possessed.

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So overall it would have been inadvisable and extremely out of character for the British to commence general hostilities before March or April of 1862.

It would have been inadvisable and extremely out of character for the British to commensce general hostilities at all.

Edited by Talkie Toaster, 14 February 2006 - 10:13 AM.

Blessed is the mind too small for doubt.



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