Feb. 28th, 2011

songsofemelnuvi: Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of learning (Default)
Part XIV: Battles about Atlanta:

cut for FLs )
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The day after his re-election, in a momentous occasion, Abraham Lincoln greets Alexander Stephens on the White House Lawn. The two retire to a drawing room, where Stephens, with a great, grave solemnity to his voice says "President Davis has asked me to surrender on whatever terms you offer." Lincoln sees the deep pain in his old friend's face as he says this. Sees it and lets him down easy by saying nothing, not even by smiling or cheering, as indeed the main feeling in the mind of Abraham Lincoln right now is a strong, stirring, overpowering feeling of Relief, of Culmination.

Lincoln bows his head in thought. The long, terrible war has ended. It has been all that he could have hoped when Grant had said "there is no turning back now, Mr. President." Setting a pen to paper, Lincoln begins to pen the words of the Columbia Agreement........

______________________________________________________________________________________

And so there you have the end of Part I of Up With the Star. The Civil War has ended ITTL in November of 1864, with the Confederate President surrendering when his resistance further on had hoped mainly that Confederate armies would be able to maintain their military power and try to reverse the onrushing tide of Northern armies. Yet the fall of Richmond triggered mass re-enlistment and Confederate victories, while still won,  never so much even as slowed down the advancing armies of the North.

A significant point for TTL is that the Confederacy has been spared the Georgia and Carolinas Campaigns targeted at infrastructure and the Shenandoah Valley remains a major granary in Virginia itself. But while Southern infrastructure is intact to a greater degree, the Union armies have won a much more decisive military victory that unraveled the Confederacy in a few months. The POD, after all, is sometime in March 1864 where the USA has been preparing its grand offensive, but that grand offensive knocks the wheels off of the Confederate wagon, so to speak, by the middle of May and from there the Confederacy steadily disintegrates militiarily, politically, and economically where the OTL manpower crisis in Northern numbers never happens for the good and simple reason that Richmond falls in a month.

I might note as this timeline shows, I believe very strongly that the absence of a mere Horseshoe Nail can radically alter everything in a short amount of time, historically speaking. So to go into my view of how Alternate history works, in my timeline the absence of the horseshoe nail can mean the horse that would send a vital courier is never sent, thus a battle is altered and in a century the world can be overall recognizable but only superficially so.

The absence of Ben Butler leads to a Union army that moves immediately to brush aside barely-there Confederate resistance, which leads Lee to first in the belief Grant would be like every other Yankee and go north to decide to go down south only to end up fighting a large-scale skirmish near Spotsylvania, and gets drawn into six days around Hanover Junction that end the Army of Northern Virginia by capturing Lee, not by its surrender. This, however, is just something that affects the Army of Northern Virginia (and in event enough of it escapes the Hanover Junction defeat to provide a diehard core of Confederate military power in Virginia and the East for a time), and the Union still bungles the Valley and Red River campaigns, which are not affected by the butterflies due to their faults being endemic to those situations, not affected by the campaign against Lee's army directly.

As a result of that Richmond falls by June of 1864, and as a result of *that* the military scenario is very different. The Confederacy's only hope is to preserve its armies and exploit Union mistakes. Unfortunately for the Confederacy Grant is not one to make very big ones, especially when freed up to fight large-scale maneuver campaigns in finest Donelson-VIcksburg style. And as a result of the horseshoe nail (Vice-President, as opposed to General, Ben Butler) the Confederacy falls apart by November of 1864 and the Union wins the war in less than a year.

songsofemelnuvi: Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of learning (Default)
Inspired by here: 

http://neonvincent.dreamwidth.org/1304.html

Stalingrad, the WWII version of Verdun and the Somme, is one of the most famous battles of WWII. It has attracted the most attention of any of the individual Axis-Soviet War battles because it marked the true end of German power to win the war (not to get a stalemate, note, just to win). The battle has some of those simultaneously awe-inspiring and sinister moments that mark the Axis-Soviet War taken to a key point, such as Rodimstev's group, and the terrible fighting around Mamayev Kurgan. And it ended with the success of Operation Uranus, and with the southern USSR cleared of German invaders.

Yet what is truly interesting from a historical point of view is that Uranus was the smaller of two simultaneous, planned offensives. The larger one, Mars, was to be essentially Bagration, targeting a salient near the city of Rhzev. Where Stalingrad became a smashing success, Mars was a complete and utter clusterfuck.

The whole clusterfuck is summarized here:

http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/countrpt/countrpt.htm


The simplest explanation of Mars's failure is that at Stalingrad complete tactical and strategic surprise was achieved. While with Mars, Soviet troops were attacking head-long into built-up defensive positions with the same superiority of numbers locally that they enjoyed in most theaters of the war (in another irony after the bloodbath of 1941 across the whole front Nazi and Soviet numbers were until the final days of the war equal). This simple explanation, however, ignores that while in the end the Axis-Soviet War's history was written from self-serving personal memoirs of German generals and the Soviet history was rewritten whenever convenient, the bloodbath near Rhzev was ignored by Germans and Soviets alike. Like at Fredericksburg in the US Civil War, Rhzev showed that superiority of numbers and materiel could not on its own have won the war for the Soviet Union any more than it would have for the North.

However in the Soviet historiography, Stalingrad accumulated a just and deserved focus that vastly overshadowed this failed bloodbath, while the German needed to ignore it because it pointed out that their excuses to avoid facing the reality that the Soviets kicked their asses from Kalinin and Kaluga to Berlin were self-serving lies. Ironically Western historians have only found out about Rhzev since the Soviet archives were opened in 1991. This is one of the most fascinating examples of how history, written by the losers, can also be selectively written by the victors.

I intend to restart the Long Dark Night (my world wars series) again either tonight or tomorrow, and in that series when I get to WWII I'll be pointing out the Curious Case of Andrei Vlasov, another example of how history written by the loser was also ignored by the victor........

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