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Part XIV: Battles about Atlanta:

As the full might of Grant's armies has arrived on the South Carolina border, detaching troops to occupy North Carolina and break up the steadily dissolving Confederate partisan warfare, the guerrillas naturally losing enthusiasm in the least Confederate state of the Confederacy, news that is quite major indeed reaches both the shrinking domains of the Confederate government and the Union armies: Sherman has begun to besiege Atlanta.

How it had happened was thus. The Confederate armies in Georgia under Joe Johnston, after the sequence of failed attempts to disrupt Sherman's offensive had been increasingly hollowed out by the sequence of Union victories and advances in North Carolina. Their only saving grace had been that Johnston would *not* leave them to go into the kind of senseless attacks that had been seen in the Virginia and North Carolina campaigns.

What they had not realized was that Sherman was, unlike Grant, focused on Atlanta more than their armies. And that Sherman, with full room to maneuver and a Confederate army opposed to his disheartened by the strings of reverses seen on the other fronts that was after all not willing to contest the sudden and effective string of maneuvers when Sherman sent elements of Thomas's and McPherson's armies near the Chattahoochee River, fighting General Wheeler's cavalry near Pace's Ferry.

In the Georgia Races, the Confederate armies successfully disengaged under Sherman's offensive power, retreating behind Atlanta's fortifications. In the North, the 13th Amendment comes increasingly close to ratification, as by now Minnesota, New York, Franklin (where despite the passage of Black Codes, the lack of enthusiasm for slavery had been the cause of so much suffering there), Maine, Indiana, and significantly Ohio have all ratified it.

Lincoln's re-election is a virtual shoe-in, as the increasingly obvious Union victory is only strengthened once the various Union armies, their logistics re-supplied by the first large-scale shipments of Union supplies into Wilmington, begin the advances into South Carolina, where Confederate troops under Generals Cooper and Beauregard, Bragg having been forced to retire after his troops had almost all deserted during the North Carolina campaign and the ones he'd had had been typically inflexibly led, are now forced into some of the most desperate fighting of the Eastern Theater, seeking to hold the onrushing Gotterdammerung of the Confederacy at bay.

As the last days of September blend into October, Union troops under Grant in South Carolina are closing in on Columbia, where Confederate troops have been feverishly building strong fortifications patterened after Johnston's at Atlanta. The city itself, now besieged, if lost will be the end of the Confederacy, as even Jefferson Davis can see.

In his diary, Davis writes: Nashville fell, but Seven Days saved us. Vicksburg fell, but we were able to blunt Meade at Mine Run, and so we were blinded to the lesson of Chattanooga. Then Richmond and Virginia fell and all is lost. If Atlanta falls, I must give that speech I had written months before, and I do believe I would rather die a thousand deaths than to give up all we have fought for.

Part XV: October 1864:

General Joe Johnston now looked rather more haggard and grey-bearded than he'd been previously. By a darkly ironic twist of fate, the President now gave him everything he asked for, and by a darkly ironic twist of fate he now commanded the last, large forces of the Confederate armies. Davis had not condemned his decision to retreat into Atlanta. Holding this city was, he sensed, the last act of Confederate armies in this theater. If they could not halt Grant in South Carolina, he would be forced to retreat.

He, like so many in the South, had not made much of Grant, and had felt that if Lee was not as great as people turned him into, that he was certainly better than his Northern rivals. Yet Lee from first to last had fought Virginia's war, and now he was left in Atlanta, supervising the terrible defensive battles in a steadily growing line of trenches.

With Lee's army, accustomed to harsh, bitter fighting of this sort, he believed he might last far longer. Yet the Western war, which as he well knew, had been over much vaster differences, had seen less bitter individual battles. Too, with the mere reality that the Yankees had marched through North Carolina virtually unopposed, quite a few of the enlisted men were losing enthusiasm to fight enemies that weren't even able to be halted.

He knew it was the 6th of October and by fortunate chance he'd been able to blunt the attacks by the Armies of the Ohio and the Armies of the Tennessee. Yet Grant had sent the Army of the Shenandoah into Charleston simultaneous with a Naval offensive, and the stronghold of the Confederacy had fallen.

Through September he had been able, by a combination of quick thinking and Sherman's skills being just close enough to his own that they were able to match still, to halt the military power of the Yankees around Atlanta. He'd heard that the Federals were now on the Savannah.

Having his campaign in full control, Johnston nodded off for one night, tiredness and stress and exhaustion overwhelming him.

_____________________________

On the 11th of October, the wiry, thin, and red-haired Sherman received a telegraph of momentous importance: "We are coming. I will meet you at dawn tomorrow. Excellent work, Cump." The telegraph had the name "Sam Grant." Sherman himself remained immensely frustrated. He'd tried to get around Johnston's fortifications and to send larger assaults into seemingly weaker points.

He knew the obvious problem with this, even if he could get troops through to win local breakthroughs, he was never able to re-inforce them fast enough to overpower Johnston's response. He'd feared, given his prickly relationships with the newspapers that they'd turn this into "Butcher Sherman." He'd been vaguely pleased to note that instead he'd been presented in Republican Newspapers as "closing the iron ring."

That night, the Union troops there saw the first formations of the Eastern Armies arriving. The first to arrive was the Fighting 41st, whose presence had provoked a great deal of cheering even from Sherman's old army, with these Army of the James formations taking their positions next to Fremont's Army of the Chattahoochee.

The next morning, Sherman stood, his troops presenting arms in salute as with his usual deftness on a horse, the small, like Stonewall Jackson somewhat disreputable-looking, but supremely skilled General-in-chief arrived. Grant tipped his hat to Sherman and said "Well, Cump, what must we do?".

____________________________

In Atlanta, Johnston received the news that the Union armies had arrived the very next day, when in his morning prayer with his personal chaplain, he received the message from a courier. His hands shook as he read the paper......

Part XVI: The Union is Ours and Fairly Won: November 1864:

As Johnston is in Atlanta near the end of October, Davis, having seen the way that Union politics has turned, knows now that any hope that fighting at Atlanta would preserve the Confederacy by strengthening the anti-war faction is a lost cause. He orders Johnston to withdraw troops from Atlanta before fully surrounded and issues a speech to the Confederate government in Montgomery, the speech as follows:

Members of the Confederate government, I give you one of the hardest speeches I have ever had to write. In 1861, we became ourselves founding fathers of a new nation, one dedicated to freedom to own our property as we saw fit. We then won our first, great victory against the Northern armies, but by now, with Northern troops having taken the city of Atlanta, we can no longer fight.

I had kept this war going in hopes that a desire for peace might take hold and lead to the preservation of the two countries. Instead, the war in Virginia has collapsed, and there are now six Federal armies, if not more, pressing through the state of Georgia, chasing after our brave forces.

For years we have struggled, and we have fought, and we have bled, and we have died. And it has been to no avail. The great might of the North was in the end an embodiment of modern power no willpower, no elan, could have ever hoped to subdue. Members of the Confederate Congress, I am now sending an envoy of peace, headed by the Vice-President, to discuss peace with Lincoln, accepting the terms offered by the Northern armies.

Re-unification is by now to happen if we fight to the last ditch or if we do not. If indeed we do fight thus, there are no men left to protect our women from the avarice of conquest. If we do not fight, then for us and for our salvation can we negotiate within the political realm of our one country, and perhaps form a just and equitable peace.

The men of the North have re-elected Lincoln on an overwhelming basis, and I am not fool enough to ask the parts of Georgia, and Florida, and of Alabama, and of Mississippi to fight for the Confederacy when all 11 states could not do it. It is a hard road we must walk, but we have no choice.

We must have a peace with one single country again, a peace that is just and equitable for the soldiers on both sides. I am able with a great solemnity to say that we have done all in our power to fight this war, and none can say we could have done more.

_____________________

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.

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songsofemelnuvi: Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of learning (Default)
songsofemelnuvi

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