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Old 01-26-2024, 02:04 AM   #1
Dave_67
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Default [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

For those GMs who have run Dixie from Alternate Earths, how did you handle Virginia...specifically the Eastern Shore? The map in the book is quite vague, as it looks like there might be a thick international border on the peninsula.

It seems more likely that the US would also take the two counties that make that up along with Maryland after WWI. Or did you surmise that the federal government might have overseen a deal where Virginia gave up those two counties to Maryland ahead of WWI?

The other thing I'm toying with is having the three easternmost counties of West Virginia (Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson) staying with Virginia instead of joining West Virginia in 1863. (There was some dispute as to the validity of the vote to join West Virginia, seeing that it was taken under the observation of the Union army and most voters were away in the Confederate army.) Considering all three are on the Potomac River, does that make more sense?

What say all of you?
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Old 01-26-2024, 03:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

Given the animosity between the North and South, I doubt that either side would willingly give up territory.

Whether Virginia's Eastern Shore goes to the Union depends on how badly the Federal government gets beat and local politics on the Delmarva peninsula. Historically, much like West Virginia, it was a relatively poor area with few slaveholders and little reason to keep them. Economically, it's more hooked into the economy of Delaware and Maryland than Virginia. All that means that the locals probably wouldn't be too sad if they remained part of the U.S.

Unlike Western Virginia, however, it much harder to defend. Virginia might have also had a strategic interest in holding on to the peninsula to retain control of the upper Chesapeake Bay.

If the Federals really screwed up and lost Delaware and parts of Maryland (or all of it) to the rebels, then the Eastern Shore will be firmly, fiercely CSA territory whether the locals like it or not.

In any case, the Eastern Shore will be much more interesting in Dixie than it is in our timeline, since it will be a hotbed of espionage, military, smuggling, underground railroad activity, etc. It's also possible that it gets folded into Delaware, but with an unusual degree of local autonomy based on its historical status.
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Old 01-26-2024, 03:18 PM   #3
Dave_67
 
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

Thanks, interesting response...including a few points that I had missed.

In my writeup Lee took Baltimore after Sharpsburg, like in the original timeline in the book, before going on into Pennsylvania. It's possible that small patrols would have been sent out to the northeast and down the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Also, in my writeup I have that the CSA has a lighthouse and small naval instillation at the tip of the peninsula.

It is possible that the Eastern Shore could go with Maryland when that state is taken over by the US as part of the Treaty of Washington after WWI - but I'm still working on that part of the history, seeing if the US was able to divert land forces down that way.

(I'm currently working on the Chesapeake Campaign, where all but one amphibious landings, including the Eastern Shore, is called off due to rough seas. The only one that has any degree of success is just south of Baltimore to break the stalemate, but that only works because they can launch from the northern end of the bay, not from Wilmington and Philadelphia and around the peninsula.)

But in the end, you're right, doubtful that much land would change hands. The only way those three WV counties would go to Virginia would be from 1863 on.
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Old 01-26-2024, 04:13 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

I was raised on the Eastern Shore, but I need to review AE before commenting in detail. A couple of quick points to note:
  • Hampton Roads is a strategic waterway that opens onto the mouth of the Chesapeake. Giving up the Eastern Shore of Virginia puts this on an international border, while holding it allows Hampton Roads to dominate traffic in the Bay.
  • There have been armed conflicts between Maryland and Virginia over the Chesapeake Bay even in our timeline: see, e.g., Oyster Wars.
  • The Delmarva Peninsula was a prominent branch of the Underground Railroad in our timeline, and so likely to continue in that role.
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Old 01-26-2024, 06:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

Okay, having reviewed AE:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_67 View Post
In my writeup Lee took Baltimore after Sharpsburg, like in the original timeline in the book, before going on into Pennsylvania. It's possible that small patrols would have been sent out to the northeast and down the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay.
I have to question how likely it is that even Lee could put significant forces across the Susquehanna. The fall line is almost at the river mouth; the hills on either side are steep and rocky. There's a reason that Homeline Lee wound up in Gettysburg rather than farther east.

I also think a defeated Union would not be eager to keep their capital in Philadelphia if it had suffered an invasion; they probably would have relocated to New York. I suggest a campaign that leads to York and Harrisburg, with a desperate but successful Union defense of the crossings of the Susquehanna.

Quote:
Also, in my writeup I have that the CSA has a lighthouse and small naval instillation at the tip of the peninsula.
See my post above, re: Hampton Roads. Between Fort Story and a fortress on (heavily built up) Adam Island, by the 1870s (when cannon ranges improve) the CSA would be able to fire on any vessel trying to run the gap.

Quote:
It is possible that the Eastern Shore could go with Maryland when that state is taken over by the US as part of the Treaty of Washington after WWI - but I'm still working on that part of the history, seeing if the US was able to divert land forces down that way.
The Treaty of Washington is the key point. It sounds as if the transfers were punitive, rather than as a result of conquest as such. Given the significance of the Chesapeake, I suspect the Treaty would insist on the entire Delmarva Peninsula, especially the fort on Adam Island.

That would make the Chesapeake in the present a version of the Homeline Persian Gulf, with hostile forces tussling over ships trying to reach Baltimore. Note, though, that the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, across the northern neck of the Peninsula, has been there since 1829. Some limited traffic could transit between Baltimore and Philadelphia that way, even if hostilities close the Bay.

Quote:
(I'm currently working on the Chesapeake Campaign, where all but one amphibious landings, including the Eastern Shore, is called off due to rough seas.
There aren't really "rough seas" like that on the Bay, as it's narrow and almost land-locked. On the other hand, the western edge of the Peninsula is almost entirely marsh. The only good landing sites all have towns on them.
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Old 01-26-2024, 08:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrash View Post
There aren't really "rough seas" like that on the Bay, as it's narrow and almost land-locked. On the other hand, the western edge of the Peninsula is almost entirely marsh. The only good landing sites all have towns on them.
But don't forget Murphy's Law and the sheer incompetence that many American Civil War (and later) generals displayed.

Imagine a "political" general like Nathaniel Banks or Benjamin Butler. They wrangle command of a huge task force given the seemingly simple task of isolating and capturing the Eastern Shore, figuring that leading an easy and glorious military campaign is their ticket to the presidency.

Through graft, astounding incompetence and multiple instances of preventable bad luck (Who could have predicted that the Eastern U.S. seaboard is vulnerable to severe storms from August to November or that 19th century U.S. coastal swamps teem with malarial mosquitoes?) they manage to screw up the job, yet remain in place because they're too well politically-connected to cashier.

Their sullen presence and meddling prevents the competent military professionals from fixing the problems they made, and possibly gets smart men who actually made a difference in our timeline killed off to no good effect. The result is a bleeding sore of a stalemate instead a campaign that could have been won, leading short-sighted political leaders to give up due to exasperation. (Think Red River Campaign or Bermuda Hundred.)

As another option, imagine a local "secesh" guerilla leader, like Mosby or Forrest, operating in the Eastern Shore. They make life intolerable for the Yankees until the occupiers are finally forced to pull out.
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Old 01-26-2024, 08:57 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrash View Post
That would make the Chesapeake in the present a version of the Homeline Persian Gulf, with hostile forces tussling over ships trying to reach Baltimore. Note, though, that the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, across the northern neck of the Peninsula, has been there since 1829. Some limited traffic could transit between Baltimore and Philadelphia that way, even if hostilities close the Bay.
More likely, it just results in the demise of Chesapeake Bay ports as major manufacturing and shipping hubs. U.S. trade just gets rerouted to more secure ports like Philadelphia or NYC while CSA trade gets rerouted south to Wilmington, NC. More northerly minor ports in North Carolina get more development than they did historically, but ultimately fail. They're not that good (swampy, shallow rivers) and because the barrier islands and the sound between them and the mainland are too treacherous for 19th and 20th century shipping.

Last edited by Pursuivant; 01-26-2024 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 01-26-2024, 10:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

(Checked my notes on this.)

No, Lee thinks that McClellan has retreated to Baltimore. He brushes aside Burnside and finds the city virtually undefended. He leaves part of II Corp - probably Johnson's Division - in Baltimore and then pushes north...where Gettysburg happens a year early. (BTW, I've renamed the final push as "Longstreet's Charge", because from everything I've read, Pickett was an idiot, who nearly - and on purpose - turn the Pig War off Vancouver Island a decade earlier into a full-blow war between the US and Britain.) It would have been Johnson who would have looked to secure the eastern shore of the Bay.

During all this, word of Sharpsburg has been sent out with a courier on a fast clipper out of Bermuda to Britain and France, and then word returns of their recognition of the Confederacy. In my notes I have it that delegations from both sides meet to sign the general armistice at the home of Wilmer McLean in Manassas, VA Nov. 20, 1862 - he and his family had yet to move to Appomattox Courthouse by then.

I was also just looking at Google Maps as to the relation of Sharpsburg in relation to Baltimore and Gettysburg. Judging by the location, I have a feeling that those three counties in West Virginia would not want to join, seeing as they would be surrounded almost completely by a foreign country, connected to the rest of the state by a strip of land a little over 7 miles wide.

And yes, the Treaty of Washington WAS punitive.

Also, once again, thanks for the food for thought here on several fronts.
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Old 01-27-2024, 02:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_67 View Post
(Checked my notes on this.)

No, Lee thinks that McClellan has retreated to Baltimore. He brushes aside Burnside and finds the city virtually undefended. He leaves part of II Corp - probably Johnson's Division - in Baltimore and then pushes north...where Gettysburg happens a year early. (BTW, I've renamed the final push as "Longstreet's Charge", because from everything I've read, Pickett was an idiot, who nearly - and on purpose - turn the Pig War off Vancouver Island a decade earlier into a full-blow war between the US and Britain.) It would have been Johnson who would have looked to secure the eastern shore of the Bay.

During all this, word of Sharpsburg has been sent out with a courier on a fast clipper out of Bermuda to Britain and France, and then word returns of their recognition of the Confederacy. In my notes I have it that delegations from both sides meet to sign the general armistice at the home of Wilmer McLean in Manassas, VA Nov. 20, 1862 - he and his family had yet to move to Appomattox Courthouse by then.

I was also just looking at Google Maps as to the relation of Sharpsburg in relation to Baltimore and Gettysburg. Judging by the location, I have a feeling that those three counties in West Virginia would not want to join, seeing as they would be surrounded almost completely by a foreign country, connected to the rest of the state by a strip of land a little over 7 miles wide.

And yes, the Treaty of Washington WAS punitive.

Also, once again, thanks for the food for thought here on several fronts.
So in this timeline, does Longstreet get his credit and a bunch of statues?
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Old 01-27-2024, 02:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Alternate Earths] In Dixie, how did you handle Virginia?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_67 View Post
(Checked my notes on this.)

No, Lee thinks that McClellan has retreated to Baltimore. He brushes aside Burnside and finds the city virtually undefended.
The subsequent capture of the city results in jubilation by most (white) Baltimoreans and many Marylanders in the Tidewater regions of the state. Historically, it was a hotbed of CSA sympathizers until the end of the war.

With a strong and smartly-handled CSA occupation government, it would have been relatively easy to bring the "Tidewater" regions of Maryland into the Confederacy. There might have been resistance from northerly and Eastern Shore portions of the state, but they wouldn't have had the military organization or numbers to protest.

The CSA occupation of Baltimore makes Washingon, DC untenable as a capitol, forcing the Federal government to flee west and North. In the war's aftermath, Washington D.C. loses its reason to exist and presumably Federal buildings like the White House and the Capitol Building fall into disrepair.

By the 20th century, Washington, Maryland is a sleepy suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, notably only for the Lee family's magnificent Arlington Plantation. (The Union soldiers buried on the plantation grounds during the time it served as a military hospital were disinterred and reburied elsewhere as soon as the war ended.)
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