The Trent Affair leads to war 1861

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,197
SoCal
#11
A war between the US and UK breaks out because Lincoln does not return the captured Confederate agents to British custody. Palmerston regards this as an opportunity to break the US blockade of Southern ports and restore the flow of cotton imports to British factories. Moreover Britain can recognize the Confederacy and diminish the potential of the US as a competing world power.

There is little doubt the British Navy can break the blockade and even blockade Northern US ports. Some British forces can be landed to advise and support Confederate forces but what the South really needs are supplies. Given that, Palmerston can reasonably anticipate achieving his objective of a Union defeat and peace treaty favorable to British interests (as Palmerston would understand them).
Would Britain have actually been interested in helping the pro-slavery Confederacy win the ACW, though? After all, Britain was deeply hostile towards slavery by the early 1860s, no? If so, wouldn't it make more sense for Britain to simply launch a punitive expedition against the US, maybe get some reparations, and call it a day? I was thinking something similar to China's invasion of Vietnam in 1979--where China invaded, did some fighting, and then withdrew and declared victory over the Vietnamese.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,454
Las Vegas, NV USA
#12
Won't let me edit, so Revise and Extend....
Yes and don't forget Chancellorsville. However Grant was winning in the "West" eventually taking Vicksburg. With Grant and Sherman moving east there were few victories for the South.

In this scenario the war would be short. The British could rely on the South to win the ground war in the early phase, especially with the breaking of the Union blockade. A British blockade of the North I believe would force Lincoln's hand. My only reservation are the financial interests Britain had in the USA. Surely Palmerston understood this, yet the first draft of the British demands were harshly worded and threatening. Queen Victoria wouldn't sign it and asked Prince Albert to rewrite it. The demands were the same: return the Confederate agents to British custody and apologize. In real life Lincoln granted the former but not the latter. The crisis was over. In this alternative Lincoln refuses both demands. Palmerston has to put up or shut up. I'm waiting on opinions as to what Palmerston would do given British investments in the US.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,454
Las Vegas, NV USA
#13
Would Britain have actually been interested in helping the pro-slavery Confederacy win the ACW, though? After all, Britain was deeply hostile towards slavery by the early 1860s, no? If so, wouldn't it make more sense for Britain to simply launch a punitive expedition against the US, maybe get some reparations, and call it a day? I was thinking something similar to China's invasion of Vietnam in 1979--where China invaded, did some fighting, and then withdrew and declared victory over the Vietnamese.
The majority of the British people were opposed to slavery but the aristocracy still favored the South. In 1861 they still ruled and made policy. Did they like slavery? No. They outlawed slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833. They were willing to overlook slavery in the South because the South supplied Britain with high quality cotton at low prices for its huge textile industry. The aristocracy also identified with the landowning class structure of the South and were uneasy about the future rising power of the US. A divided US was less threatening.

See also my response to delta1 in post 3
 
Aug 2019
10
Belgium
#14
The root cause of the War between the States was the the North needed a protectionist trade policy, with high tarriffs and customs, to protect its industry from the Brits, the Belgians and the French, whereas the South needed to export as much as possible. The European powers however needed to protect their own cotton industry in India and Algeria. By 1860, their manufactures had huge stockpiles of fiinished products and the surplus had been piling up for several years, threatening a major financial crisis. So they did not recognise the Secession for purely economic reasons knowing full well thet under international law they should have recognised the Secession on the basis of "rebus sic stantibus", the actual article 62 of the Vvienna convention. So goint to war to support the Secession was never a realistiv proposition;
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,895
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#15
Won't let me edit, so Revise and Extend.

Stonewall Jackson and his threadbare Army of the Valley spent the Spring and summer of 1862 in almost continuous combat up and down the Valley of Virginia, humiliating three union generals, despite being outnumbered nearly 3:1.

George McClellan, the Smartest Man In The Room, was humiliated on the Peninsula in the Army of Northern Virginia's first campaign, and failed to defeat Lee at the rematch at Sharpsburg.

Burnside fared even worse at Fredericksburg and the Mud March.

Bragg, as inept as he was, actually won at Perryville.

By December 1862, the only "star" in the union constellation was Grant. His sole claim to fame was capturing two forts and stalling off complete disaster at Pittsburg Landing.

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Here is a link to a map showing Union territorial gains and Rebel losses by year during the US Civil War.

American Civil War - Wikipedia

It seems to me that you are exaggerating how well the Rebels were doing in the US Civil War. So after about early 1862 they would seem to outsiders to be losing territory. Therefore 1861 would have been the best time for Palmerston to intervene if he expected public support for it.

And if the UK did intervene the Lincoln administration would have to apologize for the Trent affair and pay some sort of restitution. But I am not sure that Palmerston would have made them acknowledge Southern independence. If Palmerston did force the Union to grant independence to the South, it wouldn't last long. There would have been another war in five or ten years and by then the South would have progressed a little and been a little more powerful, but the Union would have progressed a lot and been a lot more powerful. So the South should have lost badly and the Union would have reconquered a lot of the South, maybe all. If any part of the South remained independent after the second war no doubt it would have been conquered by the Union later, in the third war, or in however many wars it took.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,454
Las Vegas, NV USA
#16
And if the UK did intervene the Lincoln administration would have to apologize for the Trent affair and pay some sort of restitution. But I am not sure that Palmerston would have made them acknowledge Southern independence. If Palmerston did force the Union to grant independence to the South, it wouldn't last long. There would have been another war in five .
Palmerston wouldn't need to force Lincoln to grant Southern independence. It will occur by the actions described. As noted the South was winning the early battles in the main theater right up to their defeat at Gettysburg. With a British blockade of the North taking hold in early 1862 I don't see the war lasting until 1863. Britain will have recognized the Confederacy and that will be honored in the peace treaty with or without Lincoln.
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,895
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#17
Palmerston wouldn't need to force Lincoln to grant Southern independence. It will occur by the actions described. As noted the South was winning the early battles in the main theater right up to their defeat at Gettysburg. With a British blockade of the North taking hold in early 1862 I don't see the war lasting until 1863. Britain will have recognized the Confederacy and that will be honored in the peace treaty with or without Lincoln.
The USA would have no obligation to acknowledge that any recognition the UK gave to the CSA was the least bit valid in international law. A revolting country only become legally independent when the country it revolts against signs a treaty granting independence to the revolting country. The USA would never acknowledge the independence of the CSA until it was either defeated decisively by the combined UK and CSA or else backed down from the threat of British intervention and signed a treaty granting independence to the CSA. But such a treaty wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on.

And the CSA wasn't exactly winning the war even as early as December of 1861. The USA gained control of most regions of the border states Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri in 1861, even though the CSA claimed Kentucky and Missouri as states of the CSA. That was a big defeat for the CSA.

The USA retained control of four forts in territory that the CSA claimed, Fort Pickens at Pensacola, Florida, Fort Taylor at Key West, Florida, Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, Florida, and the strategically important Fortress Monroe, Virginia.

Seaborne invasions seized Forts Clark and Fort Hatteras at Hatteras Inlet in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, August 28-29, 1861, taking control of the North Carolina Sounds, then Ship Island, Mississippi in September , 1861, then Port Royal Sound, South Carolina on November 7, 1861, setting the pattern for larger such efforts in 1862.

So despite the victories in various battles in 1861, the CSA was already losing territories, and thus already losing the war, by the end of 1861.
 
#18
Re: Kaintuck.

Orphan Brigade.

Old Bedford.

To claim the Second War For American Independence was over by the end of 1861 in the Commonwealth takes considerable ignorance of historic fact.

Deo Vindice.

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Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,711
Australia
#19
A war between the US and UK breaks out because Lincoln does not return the captured Confederate agents to British custody. Palmerston regards this as an opportunity to break the US blockade of Southern ports and restore the flow of cotton imports to British factories. Moreover Britain can recognize the Confederacy and diminish the potential of the US as a competing world power.

There is little doubt the British Navy can break the blockade and even blockade Northern US ports. Some British forces can be landed to advise and support Confederate forces but what the South really needs are supplies. Given that, Palmerston can reasonably anticipate achieving his objective of a Union defeat and peace treaty favorable to British interests (as Palmerston would understand them).
Palmerston could probably achieve these objectives, but at what cost? The only interests being served would be those of a minority of industrialists. The majority of the people, including those whose livelihoods depended on cotton, were sympathetic to the USA rather than the CSA. An unpopular war in support of an unpopular cause would almost certainly bring down his government.
 
Nov 2011
8,889
The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
#20
This raises an interesting point. The balanced letter written by Prince Albert and signed by the Queen is rejected by Lincoln. What does Palmerston do? It seems he must go to war or look incredibly weak.
There was a "war game" on TV when I was a kid (fiftyish years ago) on just this. Those Victorian politicians held such power because they DIDN'T go to war except, maybe, against illiterate tribesmen. Just as they intimidated Mexico by simply parking a fleet off of Vera Cruz or Turkey by cruising off of the Straights--the way to "fix" Lincoln would be easy---just station a squadron 4 miles* off of the major Confederate harbours and declare that all British flagged ships would be protected by the RN. That would put the onus on aggression against British blockade runners on the Federals and essentially break the Union blockade (the same strategy used in the Berlin crisis of 1949). The Union would be put in the position of having to fire the first shot, something that they would be reluctant to do--remember, those food exports to Britain and France were paying for the weapons and technology the Union was buying from Woolwich Arsenel, Armstrong, Enfield, boulton & Watt , Cammel-Laird and others.

*The traditional 3 mile limit of territorial waters is based on a late 18thC treaty that 3 miles was the maximum cannon shot from shore.
 
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