08 July 2013

Sci-Fi Monday: Cleburne (Alternate Timeline for GURPS Time Travel)

Dixie 14 (aka Cleburne)
 
 
There are, not surprisingly, close to a score of known parallels classified as "Dixie" worlds, that is, realities in which the Confederacy won the American Civil War. On the clear majority of these parallels, the South holds strong to ideals of racial supremacy accepting chattel slavery and even adapting it to the Industrial age for slave labor in factories rather than agrarian pursuits. However, on at least one known parallel, history took a different course; that world is nicknamed "Cleburne" to distinguish it from the other Dixies.
 
Map taken from http://jakarnilson.webs.com/mogdonazia/battle2.htm and used without permission.
 
In our world, Major General Patrick R. Cleburne, CSA, hosted a meeting in which he pointed out the many obstacles the South had to overcome to win the war, even at that late date. The one deficiency the South could address was the manpower issue. Cleburne proposed that slaves who would fight for the Confederacy would be emancipated. As he wrote in a letter dated 02 JAN 1864:
 
 "Will the slaves fight? The helots of Sparta stood their masters good stead in battle. In the great sea fight of Lepanto where the Christians checked forever the spread of Mohammedanism over Europe, the galley slaves of portions of the fleet were promised freedom, and called on to fight at a critical moment of the battle. They fought well, and civilization owes much to those brave galley slaves. The negro slaves of Saint Domingo, fighting for freedom, defeated their white masters and the French troops sent against them. The negro slaves of Jamaica revolted, and under the name of Maroons held the mountains against their masters for 150 years; and the experience of this war has been so far that half-trained negroes have fought as bravely as many other half-trained Yankees. If, contrary to the training of a lifetime, they can be made to face and fight bravely against their former masters, how much more probable is it that with the allurement of a higher reward, and led by those masters, they would submit to discipline and face dangers."
 
His proposal was greeted with polite silence and nothimg ever came of it. Cleburne himself would die leading a gallant charge at the Battle of Franklin on 30 NOV 1864.

Patrick R. Cleburne, Savior of the Confederacy

On the world of Cleburne, however, the proposal was met with a more reasoned response and was implemented. There was some immediate resistance and protests made, but as the war progressed, the advantages began to take their toll on the nay-sayers. One of the first responses was the recognition of the CSA by the United Kingdom (and later France). While Britain would not directly aid the South with ground troops, the British navy made short work of the Union blockade allowing the resupply of the Confederacy with war materials. The British diplomatic corps went to work urging the two nations to come to an accord.
 
On the battlefront, the new freeman of the South made their presence known within months. Grant's Wilderness Campaign and Sherman's Atlanta Campaign were both slowed down due to the influx of black troops. In the Confederate Army, black units were greeted with some skepticism and even outright derision and hostility. However, troops who had fought against units such as the 54th Massachusetts were more than willing to give them a chance and that warrior bond common to all who share hardships would make for some interesting post-war politics.
 
The US Presidential election of 1864 would see McClellan winning over Lincoln in a very close race. By spring, 1865, the Union would come to the peace table and offer generous terms for the cessation of hostilities. A return to prewar borders became a reality (with the notable exception of West Virginia). Kentucky opted for the Union, Tennessee for the Confederacy. Missouri went with the South and Kansas with the North. The Indian Territory would remain a bone of contention for some  years to come; the South sided with their Cherokee allies for its "independence." It would eventually become reality as well in 1907. As far as the western states, the USA ceded the area that is Arizona and New Mexico in our world to the CSA. In the late 1860's, Maximilian I ceded Sonora and Baja California to the Confederacy in exchange for military backing against Benitio Juarez. The CSA, like the USA, stretched from sea to sea. The New West would see a large number of black settlers escaping racial tensions in the Old South.
 
And make no mistake, things were not all sunshine and happiness in the CSA. This would come to a head in the 1878 Presidential election when Cleburne ran on the Whig ticket against Nathan Bedford Forrest on the Democratic ticket. Relations with the USA would remain frosty; there were some areas where the two worked together well such as the postwar cattle drives that sold Texas beeves to Kansas markets for consumption in Northern cities. However, it would take the First and Second World Wars for the two nations to warm up to each other once again. By the 1980's (current year is 1987), there was even talk of reuniting, but such is really wishful thinking of some starry-eyed dreamers. However, the two are staunch allies in the fight against Global Communism.
 
*****
 
Yes, there is some hand-waving there, but all-in-all, it makes for an interesting setting. Turn the tropes on their heads. With the Indian Territory and the New West, there's plenty of space to make for a different western-themed game. WW2 intrigue is possible. For instance, the German-American Bund really didn't cause problems in our world; what if they did for the CSA? What if the south still had close ties with France; would Dien Bien Phu turn out differently? So much to think about and try.
 
Anyway, until next time, gentle readers, whistle Dixie!
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