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  • What If The British Declared War On The USA?

    What if events had taken a different twist during the Trent Affair- suddenly the United Kingdom is entering the war against the United States.

    What happens next?????

  • #2
    ...the Union would then put the other shoe on to end the civil war and ready itself for the Brits, if the Brits could avoid their own turmoil.
    The Fenian revolt may have started sooner and Canada would be part of "New Ireland".
    Hey. if you want to dream, dream big!

    Comment


    • #3
      I think it would have been a very ugly affair....VERY ugly. Even with full mobilization in America, I think the British would have worked us over pretty badly. There are a LOT of variables in the equation that could influence the outcome.
      The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mgronski View Post
        ...the Union would then put the other shoe on to end the civil war and ready itself for the Brits, if the Brits could avoid their own turmoil.
        The Fenian revolt may have started sooner and Canada would be part of "New Ireland".
        Hey. if you want to dream, dream big!
        Other shoe? I know Lincoln would never have allowed the CSA to exist- UK or no UK without being totally defeated. I still think think the United States would have prevailed- it would have been a blood bath, though I do think that Russia would have entered the war on the side of the United States, though what they could do would have been limited.

        Comment


        • #5
          We have discussed this twice at length over the last few years:

          http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...t=trent+affair

          http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...t=trent+affair

          67th makes an impressive case about the British & what would have transpired.

          EDIT: 67th & robcrauford both! The amount of information in that one thread is worth the time & effort to read it.
          Last edited by hellboy30; 14 May 10, 11:47.
          The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by hellboy30 View Post
            We have discussed this twice at length over the last few years:

            http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...t=trent+affair

            http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...t=trent+affair

            67th makes an impressive case about the British & what would have transpired.
            I looked over his posts and as always my friend explains his opinions in detail-I enjoyed reading them. I'd say that I believe that many in the United States who were 'On the fence' regarding the war would have totally flipped once the British became involved. I think there would have been an incredible change of opinion in the United States- I believe we would have had 'Total War' in North America the moment the British declared war and I could easily see Lincoln do a draft and tapping the huge manpower advantage the Union always had available. I don't think the British were in a strong position to wage a vast war across the Atlantic.

            Admiral Milne himself said that the fortifications in Jamaica were almost useless and that he had no available ships should war be declared in the spring of 1861. Lt General Williams (The CIC) in Canada said in early 1861 that he would need VAST reinforcements for any future conflict as he had hardly 5000 trained soldiers in all of Canada and he himself stated that the Canadian militia was 'of poor quality'.

            67th- Remember the debate in the Parliment on 21 June 1861? Newcastle himself said that it was impossible to defend the Canadian Frontier- that the economic cost and logistics would make it impossible to properly defend Canada.

            Lord Somerset himself- from the debate; 'Canada could not be defended from a serious attack by the United States and winning it back later would be difficult and would destroy all the financial reserves of this Empire.'


            The Royal Navy retained the appearance of maritime supremacy principally because it existed in a naval vacuum, with no serious rivals except for halfhearted and sporadic challenges by the French. At that, the British Navy would have had a difficult time making itself felt on the North American coast. The coming of steam power had destroyed the ability of its best warships to cruise indefinitely in American waters as the blockading squadrons had done in 1812. Even with a major base at Halifax, or possible aid from Confederate ports, the British Navy would have found it a precarious venture to try to keep station on the U.S. Coast. No steam navy operated with success against any reasonably formidable enemy at the distances from its home ports that a trans-Atlantic war would have imposed on the British fleet until the U.S. Navy fought the Japanese in World War II. The coming British ironclads had a deeper draught and could not operate in American coastal waters, leaving a close blockade dependent on wooden ships vulnerable to Union ironclads.

            The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy (1973).
            Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 14 May 10, 12:10.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
              What if events had taken a different twist during the Trent Affair- suddenly the United Kingdom is entering the war against the United States.

              What happens next?????
              I've done a lot of research on this.

              Lord Lyons had orders to retire immediately (upon receipt of a negative response or no response within 7 days) to Halifax and inform the theatre commanders to execute their conditional orders (see http://67thtigers.blogspot.com/2009/...ultimatum.html ).

              Milne, Dunlop etc. expected to open hostilities with a major attack on the USN, Dunlop decending on the force at Galveston, Milne on Hampton Roads and Erskine on Charleston, with the objective of eliminating the USN as an offensive entity. He would then impose his own blockade on the Union using:

              Penobscot Bay: 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
              Kennebec River: 1 sloop, 2 gun boats.
              Portland, Maine: 1 frigate, 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
              Portsmouth, NH: 2 sloops.
              Cape Ann and Gloucester, Salem & Marblehead, Mass: 2 sloops.
              Boston Bay: 1 line-of-battle, 2 frigates, 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
              Cape Cod Bay and Plymouth, Massachusetts: 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
              Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, Newport, RI & New Bedford, Mass: 1
              frigate, 4 sloops, 2 gun boats.
              Long Island Island Sound: 1 line-of-battle, 1 frigate, 1 sloop, 1 gun
              boat.
              Lower New York Bay: 2 line-of-battle, 2 frigates, 2 sloops, 2 gun
              boats.
              Delaware River: 1 line-of-battle, 1 frigate, 2 gun boats.
              Chesapeake Bay: 1 line-of-battle, 2 frigates, 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
              Port Royal: 1 frigate, 1 sloop.

              A total of 6 battleships, 11 frigates, 23 sloops and 20 gun boats, 60
              ships in all, exclusive of a force of 25 vessels on the Jamaica station and a coastal assault force.

              Using the Cherbourg force the RN would proceed to smash US coastal fortifications, burn the major harbours and mount an amphibious desant on Washington (in collaboration with a Confederate movement against Washington).

              To defend Canada the British would raise 100,000 militia and reinforce them with 50,000 regulars, with dispositions as per http://67thtigers.blogspot.com/2009/...or-canada.html . This is exclusive of an additional force to be sent to Nova Scotia (ca. 20,000 regulars, 10,000 British militia and the NS and NB militia) to operate against the New England coast. A temporary expedient of a single Corps and the militia was to suffice over the winter.

              A large naval force was to be deployed onto the Lakes consisting of at least 9x 60 day ironclads (similar to those built in 1855-6) plus gunboats etc., to be deployed when navigation returns to the St. Lawrence (usually late April). The RN had several packets "fitted for, but not with", which could be converted to warships in the space of days or weeks (and were in 1866 during the Fenian Raids) which would suffice for the winter.

              Also, the US has lost its only source of saltpetre. They have enough gunpowder for one good campaign and no more is coming....

              Basically the question is whether the US will collapse due to internal upheaval or whether they'll last long enough for the British to smash them.
              "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
                Admiral Milne himself said that the fortifications in Jamaica were almost useless and that he had no available ships should war be declared in the spring of 1861. Lt General Williams (The CIC) in Canada said in early 1861 that he would need VAST reinforcements for any future conflict as he had hardly 5000 trained soldiers in all of Canada and he himself stated that the Canadian militia was 'of poor quality'.

                67th- Remember the debate in the Parliment on 21 June 1861? Newcastle himself said that it was inpossible to defend the Canadian Frontier- that the economic cost and logistics would make it impossible to properly defend Canada.

                Lord Somerset himself- from the debate; 'Canada could not be defended from a serious attack by the United States and winning it back later would be difficult and would destroy all the financial reserves of this Empire.'


                The Royal Navy retained the appearance of maritime supremacy principally because it existed in a naval vacuum, with no serious rivals except for halfhearted and sporadic challenges by the French. At that, the British Navy would have had a difficult time making itself felt on the North American coast. The coming of steam power had destroyed the ability of its best warships to cruise indefinitely in American waters as the blockading squadrons had done in 1812. Even with a major base at Halifax, or possible aid from Confederate ports, the British Navy would have found it a precarious venture to try to keep station on the U.S. Coast. No steam navy operated with success against any reasonably formidable enemy at the distances from its home ports that a trans-Atlantic war would have imposed on the British fleet until the U.S. Navy fought the Japanese in World War II. The coming British ironclads had a deeper draught and could not operate in American coastal waters, leaving a close blockade dependent on wooden ships vulnerable to Union ironclads.

                The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy (1973).
                What of Bermuda? Its very well positioned to support a blockade, especially in conjunction with the use of Canadian ports.

                Someone needs to drag Exorcist in here. He did a lot of work on a counterfactual for WWI with the US supporting the Central Powers that addresses these issues. Obviously there is a difference in timeline, but he might have some useful info.

                Edit - looking at the linked threads, I see Exorcist was involved.
                Last edited by The Ibis; 14 May 10, 12:02.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The US might have lost it's source of overseas salt petre, but there were plenty of bat filled caves in the North that could be utilized. Also, the North would have resorted to the same ways to manufacture or collect salt petre as the south did, from pulling up the floor boards of their smoke houses to remove the rich, salt petre ridden soil that lay beneath, to collecting urine and the night soil found in their outhouses..


                  "Into the 19th century, niter-beds were prepared by mixing manure with either mortar or wood ashes, common earth and organic materials such as straw to give porosity to a compost pile typically 1.5󫏁 meters in size.[3] The heap was usually under a cover from the rain, kept moist with urine, turned often to accelerate the decomposition and leached with water after approximately one year. Dung-heaps were a particularly common source: ammonia from the decomposition of urea and other nitrogenous materials would undergo bacterial oxidation to produce various nitrates, primarily calcium nitrate, which could be converted to potassium nitrate by the addition of potash from wood ashes.

                  A variation on this process, using only urine, straw and wood ash, is described by LeConte: Stale urine is placed in a container of straw hay and is allowed to sour for many months, after which water is used to wash the resulting chemical salts from the straw. The process is completed by filtering the liquid through wood ashes and air-drying in the sun.[3]"
                  "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think the Brits may have been largely bluffing and posturing. Canada was basically defenceless, both Seward (before the war) and Butler (after the war) concluded that. But they did what they could for the CSA, such as outfitting and harboring raiders.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
                      Other shoe? I know Lincoln would never have allowed the CSA to exist- UK or no UK without being totally defeated. I still think think the United States would have prevailed- it would have been a blood bath, though I do think that Russia would have entered the war on the side of the United States, though what they could do would have been limited.
                      I believe a couple things would have happened, those on the sidelines would have entered in the fray and fought for the Union that would not fight against Rebs, and the Rebs sitting on the fence would have enlisted for the Union.
                      Remember that the War of 1812 was only a generation away from those fighting the Civil War and had relatives that went back to the Revolution.
                      Maybe Mac could have led an army against the Brits, or been the next Benedict Arnold- this would ensure Union victory!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mgronski View Post
                        I believe a couple things would have happened, those on the sidelines would have entered in the fray and fought for the Union that would not fight against Rebs, and the Rebs sitting on the fence would have enlisted for the Union.
                        Remember that the War of 1812 was only a generation away from those fighting the Civil War and had relatives that went back to the Revolution.
                        Maybe Mac could have led an army against the Brits, or been the next Benedict Arnold- this would ensure Union victory!
                        Every recently emmigrated Irishman along the eastern seaboard would immediately flock to the US colors, aching for some payback and a chance to knock down some redcoats. Likewise a number of Confederate Kentucky and Tennessee Regiments, where memories die hard and old times there are not forgotten.
                        "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
                          I looked over his posts and as always my friend explains his opinions in detail-I enjoyed reading them. I'd say that I believe that many in the United States who were 'On the fence' regarding the war would have totally flipped once the British became involved. I think there would have been an incredible change of opinion in the United States- I believe we would have had 'Total War' in North America the moment the British declared war and I could easily see Lincoln do a draft and tapping the huge manpower advantage the Union always had available. I don't think the British were in a strong position to wage a vast war across the Atlantic.
                          The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy (1973).
                          Knowing President Lincoln's temperment and way of doing things, I could easily see him hold out the hand of amnesty to every Confederate soldier and officer who wanted to rejoin the Union and fight against England.
                          "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            As has been posted elsewhere, Great britain would have never entered the war in support of the Confederacy so long as the institution of slavery was alive. Such an act would have brought down the government. IMO, the Trent-Affair, even if a worse political crisis, would have been settled without a major shooting war erupting.
                            The Purist

                            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                              I've done a lot of research on this.

                              Lord Lyons had orders to retire immediately (upon receipt of a negative response or no response within 7 days) to Halifax and inform the theatre commanders to execute their conditional orders (see http://67thtigers.blogspot.com/2009/...ultimatum.html ).

                              Milne, Dunlop etc. expected to open hostilities with a major attack on the USN, Dunlop decending on the force at Galveston, Milne on Hampton Roads and Erskine on Charleston, with the objective of eliminating the USN as an offensive entity. He would then impose his own blockade on the Union using:

                              Penobscot Bay: 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
                              Kennebec River: 1 sloop, 2 gun boats.
                              Portland, Maine: 1 frigate, 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
                              Portsmouth, NH: 2 sloops.
                              Cape Ann and Gloucester, Salem & Marblehead, Mass: 2 sloops.
                              Boston Bay: 1 line-of-battle, 2 frigates, 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
                              Cape Cod Bay and Plymouth, Massachusetts: 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
                              Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, Newport, RI & New Bedford, Mass: 1
                              frigate, 4 sloops, 2 gun boats.
                              Long Island Island Sound: 1 line-of-battle, 1 frigate, 1 sloop, 1 gun
                              boat.
                              Lower New York Bay: 2 line-of-battle, 2 frigates, 2 sloops, 2 gun
                              boats.
                              Delaware River: 1 line-of-battle, 1 frigate, 2 gun boats.
                              Chesapeake Bay: 1 line-of-battle, 2 frigates, 2 sloops, 2 gun boats.
                              Port Royal: 1 frigate, 1 sloop.

                              A total of 6 battleships, 11 frigates, 23 sloops and 20 gun boats, 60
                              ships in all, exclusive of a force of 25 vessels on the Jamaica station and a coastal assault force.

                              Using the Cherbourg force the RN would proceed to smash US coastal fortifications, burn the major harbours and mount an amphibious desant on Washington (in collaboration with a Confederate movement against Washington).

                              To defend Canada the British would raise 100,000 militia and reinforce them with 50,000 regulars, with dispositions as per http://67thtigers.blogspot.com/2009/...or-canada.html . This is exclusive of an additional force to be sent to Nova Scotia (ca. 20,000 regulars, 10,000 British militia and the NS and NB militia) to operate against the New England coast. A temporary expedient of a single Corps and the militia was to suffice over the winter.

                              A large naval force was to be deployed onto the Lakes consisting of at least 9x 60 day ironclads (similar to those built in 1855-6) plus gunboats etc., to be deployed when navigation returns to the St. Lawrence (usually late April). The RN had several packets "fitted for, but not with", which could be converted to warships in the space of days or weeks (and were in 1866 during the Fenian Raids) which would suffice for the winter.

                              Also, the US has lost its only source of saltpetre. They have enough gunpowder for one good campaign and no more is coming....

                              Basically the question is whether the US will collapse due to internal upheaval or whether they'll last long enough for the British to smash them.
                              So much for my responses- I should have copied and saved it- instead I clicked 'submit reply' and I received 'Timeout Out' 'Log-In'....then- it's vanished- joy.

                              You made many fine points, I will refer back again to 'The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy (1973).'

                              After the Trent Affair the United States tripled the work force at the Great Saltpetre Cave in Kentucky, as well as many other available limestone caves. DuPont, Lafflin & Rand, and Hazzard were all briefed in great detail to prepare for a possible end to imports from India. Weigley details the miracle performed with much less available materials in the CSA- hence the Union would not have been compromised by any British actions.

                              In regard to the detailed 'War Plan' that was prepared by the British, Weigley (A true master of strategy and logistics) detailed how the seemingly strong 'battleplan' was actually quite weak. It is a battleplan based on the actual RN order of battle, as well as the possible ground forces that may be available based on a number of different variations, yet it is a battleplan done by the military to prepare for war. (More later)

                              Weigley states that in 1864 when Milne detailed what he would have done in the event of war, quite clearly that it looked great on paper, but was like a cube of sugar soaked in water- it looks great, but when you touch it the cube falls apart.


                              Weigley; On 17 October 1861 Somerset had concluded that the defence of all the lakes would be 憊ery difficult and that the main effort must be left to the Canadians themselves, though 憄erhaps with proper arrangements we might defend Lake Ontario and Kingston Dockyard. But even for this limited programme no preparation had been made by the time Lewis raised the matter at the Cabinet of 4 December. Nor was anything done later.....the cost of the ship building programs, the men, materials and logistical problems were far beyond the scale that the treasury could sustain.

                              Weigley; In the War Cabinet debate in Canada both Macdougall and Burgoyne believed that Canada would face a major ground assault from the United States and they both serously doubted it could be resisted.
                              Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 14 May 10, 13:46.

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