Imperial German Plans to Invade the US

Sunday, April 30, AD 2017


Other than the diplomatic debacle of Germany attempting to tempt Mexico to engage in a hopeless war with the US if America and Germany went to war which led to the Zimmerman Telegram, Imperial Germany had no plans to invade the US, having more than it could handle in Europe and the Middle East.  However, plans had been drawn up to invade the US from 1897 to 1903 at the request of the Kaiser who was perturbed at the growing global influence of the US.

The first plan written by a German naval Lieutenant envisaged a naval war of the east coast of the US with raids against American east coast naval bases.

After American victory in the Spanish-American War, the plan was revised to include German troop landings and occupation of Boston and New York.

A third and final plan concentrated on bringing America to the negotiating table by seizing Puerto Rico and establishing a  naval base there and polished up the ideas of invading at Boston and New York.  The plan noted that none of this could be undertaken unless Germany enjoyed peace in Europe.

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3 Responses to Imperial German Plans to Invade the US

  • This is time to recall—as my father advised me, who had Pentagon clearance in WW2, and worked during 1943-45, in the “Pineapple Pentagon” in Honolulu–that after Pearl Harbor and the anticipated final devastation of the US carrier fleet at Midway, the Imperial Japanese High Command had plans for a full military occupation of San Francisco and it’s military and naval facilities there, from which their massive battleships, the Musashi and Yamato, would sally forth with aircraft carrier coverage and devastate Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Diego, and force the US government and its “soft American” populace, to sue for peace. (Those plans, decoded from their highest-level communications, because we had cracked the IJ naval code, was why Japanese -Americans were force-relocated in 1942, inland, under Roosevelt ‘s order 9066).

    I don’t know who had/has the more distorted vision of reality–the Imperial German military in 1897-1903, or the Japanese High Command in 1942, or Pope Francis in 2017.

  • “(Those plans, decoded from their highest-level communications, because we had cracked the IJ naval code, was why Japanese -Americans were force-relocated in 1942, inland, under Roosevelt ‘s order 9066).”
    Thank you, Steve Phoenix. The revisionist history makes victims of the internment of Japanese during WWII.

  • Interestingly, the U.S. military appears to have fully anticipated these plans. They anticipated in the 1890’s that an Imperial German landing would occur on Long Island, and that it would take at least 2 months to dislodge them. It was these war games which led to the creation of what became the Great White Fleet (along with the theories written by Mahan and Roosevelt).

Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders Corps and the Great War

Saturday, April 1, AD 2017

I make no pretense to accuracy. I shall be quite content if the sensibilities of no one are wounded by anything I may reduce to type.

Recollections of Thomas R. Marshall:  A Hoosier Salad (1925)



Something for the weekend:  Onward Christian Soldiers by Mahalia Jackson.  This stirring hymn was the campaign song of the Bull Moose Party in 1912 and was the unofficial anthem of the Rough Riders Corps that Major General Theodore Roosevelt led in the Great War.  We are almost a century away from the day when the US intervened in that War, and it is a good time to look at the controversial role that our 26th President played in that conflict.

In March of 1917 Congress passed a bill allowing Roosevelt to raise four divisions of volunteers, similar in nature to the Rough Rider regiment he raised and led in the Spanish American War.  It is said that President Wilson opposed this move.  There was certainly no love lost between Wilson and Roosevelt, Roosevelt having been the harshest critic of Wilson.  However, the stroke that killed President Wilson on April 1, 1917 rendered any such opposition moot, except to historians or writers of alternate history.  Vice President Thomas R. Marshall who now became President had no personal animosity towards Roosevelt, rather the reverse, and after his call for a declaration of war on Germany appeared at the White House with Roosevelt and former President Taft, the three men urging that now there were no Republicans and no Democrats, but only Americans united for victory.  After this there was no way that Marshall could probably have kept Roosevelt out of the War if he had wanted to, and he did not attempt to do so.

One other man could have stopped Roosevelt, however, if he had wished to, the commander appointed by President Marshall to lead the American Expeditionary Forces in France.  General John J.Pershing was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt who he had served with at the battle of San Juan Hill when Pershing was a thirty-eight year old First Lieutenant, and whose career Roosevelt had jump started when he was President by promoting him from Captain to Brigadier General, over the heads of 835 officers more senior to Pershing.  Pershing had every reason to be grateful to Roosevelt, and he was, but he was also concerned with a military amateur commanding a corps in the American Expeditionary Forces that he was to lead onto the deadly battlefields of France.  Going to visit Roosevelt at Oyster Bay, he was quickly relieved by their talk, which he discussed in his Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, My Experiences in the World War:  

“President  Roosevelt demonstrated that he had been keeping up with military developments in the Great War and was intrigued with the coordination of artillery and infantry with the newfangled air power and tanks.  He told me that he was willing to serve as a private in the force he was raising, and that as far as he was concerned no man would have a commission for any officer rank in the Rough Riders without my permission.  Touched by his self-less patriotism, I suggested that he serve as second in command of the Rough Riders with General Adelbert Cronkhite, currently in command of artillery in the Canal Zone, appointed as commander.  A worried frown passed over his face:  “The Rough Riders are not going to spend the War guarding the Canal Zone are they?”  I laughed.  “No Mr. President, I will need the best troops available with me on the Western Front, and, as was the case in Cuba, I suspect the Rough Riders in this War will be second to none.”  We shook hands and parted, still friends.”

Roosevelt made it known that he was seeking men for the Rough Riders with this advertisement he placed in all major newspapers.

Rough Riders are being recruited by Theodore Roosevelt for service in France.  Roosevelt expects that he and his Rough Riders will be constantly in the forefront of the fighting and their casualties will likely be extreme.  Only fighters with courage need apply.   Regional recruiting offices are being established at the following locations:

Roosevelt’s recruiters were quickly besieged by endless lines of volunteers.  Estimates are that some three million men filled out applications for the 100,000 slots in the four divisions of the Rough Rdiers.  Roosevelt, as with his original Rough Riders, favored men from dangerous out door occupations, men with prior military experience, athletes, and those from unusual backgrounds, like the troupe of circus clowns he allowed to enlist as a group.  Cowboys with nothing in this world except the shirts on their backs, as in the original Rough Riders, rubbed shoulders with the scions of families of great wealth.  Roosevelt made it clear that no man without prior military experience would be commissioned in the Rough Riders, and all other commissions would be earned in battle in France.  Regular Army officers looked askance at all this and referred to the Rough Riders as Teddy’s Wild West Show and by less printable terms.  Pershing assigned a number of junior officers to the Rough Riders to help bring order out of chaos, giving them the temporary rank of full Colonel.  Among them were Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower.

As in the original Rough Riders, Latinos and Indians from the West served.  A group of black regular officers, headed by Colonel Charles Young, wrote a letter to Roosevelt requesting to serve in the Rough Riders.  Although not wholly free from the racial prejudice of his day, Roosevelt got the approval of Pershing for these officers to serve on detached status with the Rough Riders, and enlisted two black regiments to serve in one of his divisions.  When a group of white Rough Rider officers protested this decision, Roosevelt had the complaining officers immediately cashiered from the Rough Riders.

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4 Responses to Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders Corps and the Great War

The Man in the High Castle

Sunday, July 17, AD 2016

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.

“The Nazis have no sense of humor, so why should they want television? Anyhow, they killed most of the really great comedians. Because most of them were Jewish. In fact, she realized, they killed off most of the entertainment field. I wonder how Hope gets away with what he says. Of course, he has to broadcast from Canada. And it’s a little freer up there. But Hope really says things. Like the joke about Goring . . . the one where Goring buys Rome and has it shipped to his mountain retreat and then set up again. And revives Christianity so his pet lions will have something to—”

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8 Responses to The Man in the High Castle

  • Regardless of which line of history man’s free will takes, and regardless of how the dice of the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle falls, God’s sovereign will cannot be thrawted and will be accomplished.
    PS, what is the substantive difference in the end between a fictional Nazi oppression of the United States and the actual coming liberal progressive oppression? The same thing will have happened, and God’s response will be the same.

  • LQG, the substantive difference is that progressives don’t like to see suffering and blood, unless of course they are the high priests of abortion. They prefer their mass killing of the post-born with painless narcotics rather than bullets or choking gasses.

  • Yes, yes. So now let us consider the alternate scenarios of a Trump vs. Hillary Presidency. I wonder how Phillip K. Dick would handle that? Personally, I see Hillary as the Nazi element. See, don’t we live in interesting times?

  • Phjilip K Dick was blackballed by the entertainment industry, and even received death threats, for publishing a pro-life short story shortly after Roe v. Wade: The Pre-Persons. He saw immediately that preborn children had no voice and he wanted to be a voice for them. check it out- free online now- and check out the industry – publishing and hollywood-intolerance of him and his views. Some of what is in the story is eerily identical to what has transpired since Roe. Guy McClung, San Antonio Texas

  • TomD, it’s true that “progressives don’t like to see suffering and blood”. And that reminds me of something about the new barbarian who wears a tweed suit and kills with his fountain pen. I don’t clearly remember the source. Anyone?

  • William P. Walsh , I hadn’t heard the line about “the new barbarian who wears a tweed suit and kills with his fountain pen”. I do recall an unattributed quote about Josef Stalin being Genghis Khan with a telephone in one hand. I suppose eventually we will have a new version of this line with a new murderer using the internet.

  • TomD, An old friend now passed on said it years ago. I think it might have been Chesterton or Belloc. Tweed suits and fountain pens put one in mind of the early Twentieth Century so maybe.

  • Guy McClung,
    Thank you for the info about The Pre-Persons. I had not heard of that story by Philip K. Dick but looked it up and read it yesterday. It is very powerful. Too bad no one will ever adapt it for the screen as many of his other stories have been.

    For anyone interested, here is a link. It is a quick read but it stays with you.

What if Red Dawn Had Happened?

Sunday, May 22, AD 2016








When I was watching Red Dawn when it came out in 1984 I was thinking to myself whether this type of partisan resistance to an invasion of the United States would take place.  I concluded that almost certainly it would.  In the Revolution, after the Continental Army in South Carolina surrendered at Charleston, partisan bands under Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens, and many lesser know figures, sprang up, and made life hell for the occupying British.  When Washington sent troops to take back South Carolina, the partisans gave valuable intelligence and acted as force multipliers for the Continental troops and state militias.  During the Civil War, similar partisan bands fought for the Confederacy and forced the Union to tie down huge amounts of troops guarding supply lines.  After the Japanese invaded the Philippines, American and Filipino guerillas made certain that the Japanese had little control out in the countryside.  The strategic situation set forth in the movie was fanciful, but the partisan war it depicted would have been a likely consequence of such an invasion.


Doubtless the occupying enemy would have tried an extensive propaganda effort:

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2 Responses to What if Red Dawn Had Happened?

  • It is because of the high likelihood of this armed partisan resistance engaging in guerrilla warfare that the communist enemy has ended up using the tactic of infiltration via liberal progressive ideology in Academia and Politics to subdue our nation and to great effect. Just look at the crowds of wide-eyed, hysterical young millennials waving banners of support for Bernie the commie pinko geriatric imbecile lunatic Sanders.

  • There’s crowds of college kids because that’s who has time to go and be right up front; if you look at the pictures, there’s old hippies and such as well.

    Sarah Hoyt has some articles where she points to communist type assumptions. It’s kind of neat.
    Not quite as neat as knowing that we can and will still pose too much of a threat to be invaded like that.

A Roosevelt Peace?

Friday, April 1, AD 2016


“The people here hate the French more than they do the British. They much prefer the Americans as troops of occupation. Since the Americans have arrived the German people have learned to like them.”

—Karl Felder of Bieder Breisig

As we approach the one hundredth anniversary of the conclusion of the Great War and the commencement of the so-called Roosevelt Peace, an old question must be addressed:  was President Theodore Roosevelt’s role in the Great War an essential one?

Of course, how one addresses this question is largely determined by whether one views history as largely the impact of impersonal forces, economic, cultural, scientific, etc, upon humanity, or whether one holds to the Great Man school, by which the path of Man through history is largely the result of some unique individual altering the flow of events.  To a large extent this debate is unanswerable, as history is history and so-called alternate history is the domain of dreamers and writers of fiction.  However, in regard to Theodore Roosevelt, elected President in 1912 following the collapse of the Republican ticket, after the assassination of President Taft in Milwaukee by John Schrank, it is hard to see how any American President would have implemented policies much different than he did.

1. Entry into the War-From the outset of the War, President Roosevelt left little doubt that his sympathies lay with the Allies and he had only disgust for Prussian militarism.  However, he maintained a testy neutrality until the sinking of RMS Lusitania.  With the loss of 128 American lives, it is difficult to believe that any American President could have withstood the rush to War.  Roosevelt demanded that the German crew be handed over to America to answer charges of murder and that no further attacks be made on passenger liners.  The Kaiser’s statement that he was willing to agree to the latter but not the former, was angrily rejected by Roosevelt, who received a thunderous standing ovation from Congress when he called for a declaration of war.

2.  Building of the Army-Utilizing the Civil War method of the states initially raising the regiments to serve drew criticism, but Roosevelt responded that a huge military had to be built overnight and that the Civil War had demonstrated that this was a tried and true method.  The regiments then reported to training camps where officers and men were trained in their duties, uniformed and equipped.  Many career officers complained that the officers of the regiments were often incompetent or well-meaning amateurs.  Roosevelt quashed much of this criticism by giving the Army full power to relieve officers who proved unsuitable.  As it turned out, about twenty percent of officers were relieved and another ten percent resigned.  General Pershing in his memoirs indicated that he would have preferred to eliminate the state role, but admitted that the state regiments had a cohesion and high morale that would have been lacking if men had not been serving with other men they knew.

3.  Tanks-Although Roosevelt was traditional in how he raised the American Expeditionary Force, many regular Army officers found him frighteningly radical in his embrace of new technology.  Tanks were seized upon by Roosevelt as an essential replacement for horse cavalry and he made certain that the American force would be motorized to an extent that astonished the European armies.  Roosevelt made certain that American troops would go into battle with double the machine guns, mortars and supporting artillery allotted to units of their German foes.  Air power was to be an essential component of each American division, along with a tank regiment.  It was perhaps inevitable that the tankers became known as Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.  American love of new technology probably would have ensured that any American president would have followed a similar policy, albeit perhaps not with quite the “Bully, Bully!” enthusiasm of Roosevelt.

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11 Responses to A Roosevelt Peace?

  • If today Teddy Roosevelt were President instead of that traitorous spawn of satan, then to fight the Islamic hordes of Jihad (worse by several orders of magnitude that the German Huns of Roosevelt’s day) all manner of weapons would be brought to bear: tactical nuclear explosives, lasers and particle beam cannons, super drones and robotic warriors, nuclear powered aircraft (yup, Oak Ridge National Lab designed a reactor for them in the 60s – thorium fueled, molten salt), etc. Instead, what we now have is a pitiful jerk of an effeminate, androgynous donkey orifice holding a nuclear security summit in Washington, DC that Russia is boycotting. Anyone here feel secure?
    PS, the time I felt most secure was when I was sleeping on a foam mattress cot next to a subroc nuclear missile in the torpedo room of my old 688 class fast attack nuclear submarine. If anyone threatened us, then with radioactive fire and brimestone we could send him to Jesus for re-assigment to hell post haste.

  • For a minute there I was scratching my head thinking “What the heck? Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t president during the First World War!” until I realized that this is an alternate history speculating on what COULD have happened if Roosevelt had been elected president in 1912.

    Here is an interesting map of the real-life results of the 1912 POTUS election:,_1912#/media/File:1912prescountymap.PNG

    Note how New York is a solidly “red” state with a strong vote for the GOP incumbent, William Howard Taft, while Roosevelt’s Progressive/Bull Moose Party appears to have been strongest in the upper Midwest, including a large swath of northern Illinois and nearly all of Michigan and Minnesota. The Solid South was still solidly Democrat and voted overwhelmingly for Wilson, the epitome of the type of liberal they would despise today. Oddly enough, Roosevelt did not do well in Wisconsin, the “cradle” of 20th century Progressivism and home of Robert La Follette (who had been a serious contender for the GOP nomination that year). Also, the only two counties carried by Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs are in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota.

  • If only . . . would President TR have allowed the income tax and federal Reserve bills to go through?
    Lucius, Look on the bright side. The US went 224 years before it was afflicted with this disastrous, moronic traitor.

  • Thank you Elaine – I was also scratching my head about the dates – “has Don’s bumble fingers hit the “6” instead of the “8” ?

  • At first, confusion. Followed by momentary fears of incipient senility. All finally relieved as memory and rationality reasserted control of my mind. Far worse than amusing historical fiction is the stark reality of our present dilemma. A President, or rather an anti-President who appears hell-bent on the destruction of our national sovereignty, including the sweeping away of our individual liberty implied by subjecting us to international law, while abrogating all vestiges of democratic process in our formerly free republic.

  • Woodrow Wilson’s actions and legacy are despised by many today, but I cut him a break because Wilson listened to Ignacy Paderewski, the renowned Polish pianist who successfully lobbied Wilson for support of the reestablishment of the Polish nation. Poland was one of Wilson’s 14 Points of Peace, while France and Great Britain were not nearly as supportive.

    World War I was neither the first nor the last German attempt at expansionism. Roosevelt might have been the man to put an end to it once and for all. Pilsudski would have if France would have helped Poland, as both France and Poland had superior armies to Germany in 1933.

  • I visited Harry Truman’s Presidential Library in Independence, MO, years ago. They had Truman military uniform on display. He was a small man. They also had one of the cannon’s used in WW 1 in a position that was front and center. On the carpet, in an air conditioned, sterile setting it was very difficult to visualize the carnage that cannon may have brought about on the battle field.

  • Sorry! My post was historical.

  • Harry Truman got his start to the White House when Theodore Roosevelt pinned the Medal of Honor on him for his part in giving close artillery support to the Rainbow Division as it smashed its way through the final defense line of the Germans in the Ardennes. Assistant divisional commander Douglas MacArthur also earned a Medal of Honor that day for leading the assault of the Fighting 69th, the spearhead of the divisional attack, as it battered its way through the German trenches. MacArthur fell In the attack, Father Duffy giving him the Last Rites, which the dying man requested. As Father Duffy said later, “I saw in MacArthur’s dying eyes a desire to embrace the Church, and so I gave him the Last Rites. I would have been ashamed of myself if I had denied his last request.”

  • “Harry Truman got his start to the White House when Theodore Roosevelt pinned the Medal of Honor on him for his part in giving close artillery support to the Rainbow Division as it smashed its way through the final defense line of the Germans in the Ardennes. Assistant divisional commander Douglas MacArthur also earned a Medal of Honor that day for leading the assault of the Fighting 69th, the spearhead of the divisional attack, as it battered its way through the German tremunches.”

    According to a Truman biography I have recently read, our World War 2 military apparatus benefited greatly by Truman’s on the ground experience in leading troops in such escapades during World War 1. I have read that he went to extensive lengths to make sure that the tools at the US military’s disposal were the safest & highest quality he could give them. ?

    I was wondering if the commanding Douglas MacArthur in WW 1 was related to the infamous commanding Douglas MacArthur in WW 2. I know they are not father and son.

  • Whew!! Father Duffy looks like he could be very serious in the picture at this link.

Alternate History Politics

Wednesday, November 11, AD 2015


Jeb Bush has come under fire for answering a very stupid question by saying yes, if he could go back in time, he would kill Baby Hitler.  Of course the proper answer to this question is that he would kidnap Baby Hitler and have him reared by a nice Jewish family.  If we needed proof about just how foolish our politics have become this question being asked, and Bush answering it, is Exhibit A.


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6 Responses to Alternate History Politics

  • I’d chose to shave off the little tykes offensive push-broom moustache.

  • First, he shows his naïvete in answering a “what-if” question.
    Second, formulaic answers for liberal “When did you stop beating your wife?” questions: “What does that have to do with the horrid economy?” Or, “What difference does it make now?”
    Third, Bush, Kasich, and Rubio (he lies) pander to illegal immigrants – it’s economics and politics, not racism or social justice. If any of these is the GOP nominee, I’m sitting out 2016.
    I’m independent. In this state I don’t vote in primaries.

  • Excellent first video.
    For the 2nd video, the correct answer to the question, “Would you have killed Hitler as a baby?” Would be:
    “You mean murder a baby as you Democats do the preborn, and then sell their internal organs on the open market to the highest bidder? The Nazis were tried for crimes against humanity at Nuremberg and hung by their necks because they did similar things.”

  • Answer: “Rather hard to kill anybody as a baby, and I was born decades too late anyways.”

  • Or just leave it at: “Hard to kill anybody as a baby.”

    Can go both ways, and prods at Paul’s comment.

  • Adolph Hitler was Not the evil tyrant when he was a baby.

    Mathew 13 The Parable of the Weeds
    24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

    27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

    28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

    “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

    29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

    I don’t know Bush’s thoughts about being able to identify sociopaths at birth and applying eugenicist ideas as a solutions to human problems. (ractions are based on ideas or thoughts)
    Hitlers’s reasoning became poisoned. He claimed that he was still a Catholic and would ever be one, even though it was obvious that he was not.
    I think the idea of killing him as a baby was a sly question, bringing up the possibility of killing a child ( or children) for the “good” of society as a whole. When might it be possible to murder a child?
    The bible is clear that the killing of innocents is evil. the left thinking seems to be titillated by “lifeboat” type of questions, wanting to choose winners and losers, selecting who can live, of course despite the claim to be on the side of the powerless.

The Man in the High Castle

Monday, August 17, AD 2015

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5


The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.

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17 Responses to The Man in the High Castle

  • I thought the book was beautiful, which is not a term I often use for science fiction. But, yes, a faithful adaptation would not translate well to the screen. Too much of the narrative involves the characters’ thought processes.

  • I watched the pilot a couple of months ago. Very slick. It was immediately apparent that it is “based on” instead of “faithful to” the book, which was, along with McKinlay Kantor’s seminal work of roughly the same time, the story that sent me careening into science fiction-alternate history instead of more noble pursuits of erudition. Alas.
    Nonetheless, I hope the series is produced. It will be interesting to see if the media muggles can capture the subtleties that make AH so addicting.

  • By defeating the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese, we have only delayed the rise of freedom-stifling fascism by decades – not even a century. The fascism overtaking us might be different in flavor and color – pin liberal progressivism – but it is the same ruthless, murderous fascism as had siezed Germany and Japan. Think about it: we daily murder thousands of innocent – little babies – and promote the most sterile of sexual practices to neuter our God-given liberty. We do things that would make Hitler green with envy.
    In th work place people never talk about traditional values except in hush whispers, afraid of offending someone who will report to human resources to get the “hate-speaking” person fired. Training courses about sexual diversity and open-mindedness about throughout corrporate culture. No one dares say a word aloud against Obama in the presence of another co-worker, whether at work or at an extra-curricula non-work-related activity. Indeed, one doesn’t even talk with one’s neighbors any longer lest they find one’s orthodox Christian religion or one’s conserrvative politics offensive. This is happeneing now. Almost everyone accepts gay rights and reproductive riights and the whole godless litany of sickening putrid liberalism. And soon one day (maybe a month from now, maybe a year, maybe two years) we will be given papers at work to sign affirming that we believe in this crap or face unemployment. And that is only the beginning. These people will soon jail those who won’t sign, and then evenutally torture and kill them. It happened under Plutarco Elias Calles in Mexico in the 1920s though the themes were different. It will happen here. A Republican never election may forestall it, but this is on the way. The science fiction of yesterday is the science fact of tomorrow. 🙁

  • “By defeating the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese, we have only delayed the rise of freedom-stifling fascism by decades – not even a century.”

    Baloney! I am so sick of gloom and despair, always a constant temptation on Catholic sites I have noted. The easiest way for evil to triumph is to convince good people that something evil is inevitable. I am having none of that recipe for defeat. Free men have stood up successfully to longer odds in the past than confront us today. Man up!

  • Donald, in a former company I discovered that it had an arm which engaged in embryonic stem cell research (it was a large international corporation with one branch doing nuclear, another health care, another jet engines, another natural gas, etc). I questioned this research via the normal channels. Within weeks I was called into HR and questioned about my own non-work related internet activities done on non-company resources. I was told that my views did not reflect the company’s vision. When I left that company, it accused me falsely of trying to take company information. Its lawyers pursued me to my next company and tried to convince that company to dismiss me. There was nothing to the allegation so my next company told the first one to take a hike.
    Then at a different company we received one of these on-line indoctrination training videos with the usual interactive test questions. It was on diversity and a great deal of it was devoted to LGBT rrights. The correct answers to the test questions were always in support of such perversion. I continually failed the exam because I refused to give the right answer. I left the course undone. Fortunately I was never questioned on this. I think the company did it as an experiment. But I see this happening now in corporate culture. You may say it’s doom and gloom, but soon people will be made examples of.

  • “Free men have stood up successfully to longer odds in the past than confront us today. Man up!”
    Donald McClarey: It was the concession speech by Emperor Hirohito and its mentions of “subjects” and “loyal servants of the state” in all its glamorization of servitude and object servitude and Obama’s overreach for an empire that really scares the pants off me.

  • I am still wondering ” what if”…Japan and Hitler had won the war. Emperor Hirohito and Adolph Hitler would have had to face off. Another science fiction tale. Not either one had any virtues or courage or common sense. It was all about domination. A free people will not be dominated.

  • Paul Primavera you are right.
    Worse is on the way. We need to prepare. This is prophesied in Sacred Scripture.
    cf Matthew 24; Revelation 13, & 14

  • Yes I agree there will be Trouble but I also think 1) we are not helpless against it – God gave us intellects and will- not just to save ourselves
    But also 2) We are called to communion – not just in Love with God, but also in Love with His people – we are our brothers keeper. As Catholics we have a certain noblesse oblige. 3) God is not going to rapture us out of it so…

  • Don, I have to agree with Paul. Some form of totalitarianism is coming to this country. Our secular educational system is controlled by Marxists. Too many of our religious leaders, even in the Catholic Church, have embraced leftist ideologies, especially that guy in Rome. Our politicians likewise. The growing number of people on welfare won’t embrace freedom, they will embrace the state, especially those who have been on the dole for generations and those who are in the US illegally. The fact that an open Marxist like Obama was twice elected POTUS should tell you where we are heading. And don’t think the Goofy Old Party is going to save us. The top leadership of the party of Lincoln is merely Demo Light, and the candidates in the running for presidency are the biggest bunch of flakes I’ve seen, outside a box of Kellogg’s. As for Trump, at least he’s saying the right things, whither he can deliver if he gets into office is another thing.

  • A completely incorrect assessment Stephen. The welfare state is dying around the globe, and the churches that embrace it rapidly shrink to insignificance. The Republican Party that you deride is doing good work on the state level and has not been stronger nationally since the days of Calvin Coolidge. Your gloom and doom analysis couldn’t be more mistaken.

  • Donald, I hope you are right and I am wrong. But I can only tell you what I see and experience every day in korporate Amerika. Company executive go out of their way to ingratiate themselves with government mandated diversity and inclusivity of anythiing except Judeo-Christian Tradition. Those who are conservative speak in hush whispers if at all lest someone overhear. We see bakers and hotel owners who refuse to coddle the redefinition of marriage run right out of business. And few politicians and fewer Catholic clergy are willing to speak out against this. Yes, there are notable exceptions (some good priests and bishops do speak out) and yes, there are (contrary to what Steve wrote) some good GOP candidates (Trump not being one of them – a caricature of a free enterpise entrepeneur). But even my neighbors and co-workers accept the rightness of gay marriage and reproductive rights and wealth redistributionism (so long as it isn’t theirs).
    So yes, I pray your optimism is right and my pessimism is wrong. But I know what one company tried to do to me and what another’s training courses on diversity and inclusivity were like, and I work in an industry very regulated by the federal govt, so compliance with the govt agenda is just about mandatory.

  • Don, where’s the proof the GOP is so strong on the state level? All I have is your say so. Real proof please! Your fellow Republican Joe Walsh doesn’t seem to share your optimism about the Party. Since he was an elected official, I think his perspective is more realistic than yours.
    The welfare state is dying? It might be dying in some places around the globe, but this benighted country re-elected Mr. Gimme-That Obama twice.
    What Paul says about corporate America is true. When I worked at Caterpillar Inc. , we were given the same line of leftist bull on social issues. I remember particularly how they talked to us about sexual harassment . What a joke! Most of the guilty were Cat Executives, not hourly stiffs like me!
    Paul, while there may be some good candidates, how effective would they be once they be, (if that actually happens) once they got into office? The various government agencies are now staffed with leftists up to the wazoo. Because of the civil service laws, unless they can be found guilty of corruption, incompetence, or treason, it will be next to impossible to remove them. And lets not forget the lackluster GOP leadership in Congress. They might as well be Democrats for all the good they can do.
    Don, you have made the claim that the GOP is strong on a state level and a national level. Well, I’d like to see some real proof, not glittering generalities. You can either post a few articles on TAC, or give your audience a few links to offsite articles. And please, no propaganda pieces! Just analytical pieces that give us a fair assessment of the local and national GOP strengths and weaknesses.

  • The GOP controls 69 of 99 state legislatures, the most ever for the GOP:

    In addition 31 states have Republican governors:

    24 states have both Republican governors and legislatures, as opposed to 7 states for the Democrats. As recently as 1977 the Republicans completely controlled one state to 29 for the Democrats

    Joe Walsh is a buffoon who got tossed after one term in Congress.

    “The welfare state is dying? It might be dying in some places around the globe, but this benighted country re-elected Mr. Gimme-That Obama twice.”

    Yep, and handed Republicans the Congress in 2010 and increased their majority in 2014. Compare and contrast with the electoral strength of FDR. Obama is not a sign of the strength of the Welfare State. His failed administration is its last gasp.

  • The state level electoral successes of the GOP are empirically undeniable, as Donald lays out. It is also borne out in a sense by the pathetic state of the Democratic presidential field. With Hillary flailing, the names being bandied about as potential rescuers are: Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Al Gore. At this rate it wouldn’t surprise me to see Walter Mondale’s name come up. The weak state of the Democratic bench is a sign of how poorly they have done on the state level.

  • the pathetic state of the Democratic presidential field.

    Looked at dispassionately, it’s a much better bench than they’ve run in the last five elections. Martin O’Malley’s tenure as Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland incorporated a number of obtrusive failures (the crime control hype and the disaster that is the Baltimore City Jail foremost among them). I’m not sure there’s a similar rap on any of the other candidates. Webb, Sanders, and Chaffee have all held executive positions, and none of them have any dirt sticking to them. If they have a history of buffoonery, it’s more modulated than that of Joseph Biden or Howard Dean. Look to the recent past: BO, Hildebeast, John Edwards, John Kerry, the decaying Albert Gore, and the Hot Springs Lounge Lizard. Webb, Sanders, or Chaffee would be an improvement on any of them.

  • The state level electoral successes of the GOP are empirically undeniable, as Donald lays out

    Bully. However, as we speak, fully half the Senate Republican caucus voted to re-authorize the Export-Import Bank, and the Senate Majority Leader arranged for this vote in the course of lying to dissenting members of his caucus. It’s a small issue but a telling one. The are no decent arguments for maintaining the bank; it’s just candy for Boeing.

What If Nazi Germany Had Invaded America?

Wednesday, August 5, AD 2015

26 Responses to What If Nazi Germany Had Invaded America?

  • Nazi Germany could not invade the United States. Nazi Germany could not even develop an effective long range bomber to attack US cities. Nazi Germany could not develop a Navy capable of challenging the might of the Royal Navy or controlling any of the oceans of the world. The success of the U-boats was akin to guerrella warfare. The enigma codes were broken, radar was developed and the industrial might and manpower advantage of the United States ensured the defeat of Nazi Germany.

    Yes, the USSR lost 25 million people. They didn’t lose 25 million men under arms and Stalin didn’t care how many citizens of the USSR died in order to defeat his former ally. The USSR needed help and got it from the United States. Stalin got whatever he wanted from FDR and then some (including Poland east of the Curzon Line).

    Japan never made it to the West Coast. Japan’s Navy was far superior to Nazi Germany and the US still whipped them.

    People of many nations fought, bled, suffered and died to ensure the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan but it would not have occurred without the raw materials, finances, industry and manpower of the USA.

  • I seem to remember reading somewhere that Yamamoto or somebody else in the Japanese high command believed that an invasion of the West Coast was feasible, but that they’d never get over the Sierra Nevadas, and thus it wasn’t worth attempting.

  • ” The American Revolution and the Civil War amply demonstrate how hard Americans will fight when confronted on their home ground. ”
    Is that still true?

  • “No such restrictions.” That’s a nice way of saying that there were wars with hostile tribes in living memory, and folks even had the guns their grandparents had bought for that….. Plus all the WWI vets. My godfather lost his father to an Indian raid in California, was too young for WWI, and was too old for WWII; he was still going strong in the 70s and 80s. I don’t think there would’ve been enough left to bury if somehow German soldiers had shown up in the valley….

    America even today also has a lot of nice, open land where we could bomb anybody coming through without hitting much of our own stuff.

  • I understand there is an interview of a Japanese official who said much the same thing about American gun ownership and their prospects for invasion of California: “We were not crazy”.

  • Probably the worst outcome of a Nazi victory over Britain for the U.S. would have been an attempt to take Iceland and Greenland by air invasion and to infiltrate Quebec a la Casablanca. It would be highly likely that the U.S. would have prodded Canada to resist infiltration, which would not have been too difficult.

    And what would have caused a British capitulation? A total loss at Dunkirk, plus Spain joining the Axis and taking Gibraltar, plus what else? There were elements that wanted to heave Churchill after Dunkirk – what if the evacuation had failed and the entire British Army were captured? Could Britain have panicked and sued for peace? It is possible, but how likely? In any case it is unlikely the Battle of Britain would have turned out any other way, so any revisionism would have to change history before that point. Franco was a Catholic who distrusted the atheistic views of Hitler and Mussolini despite their political affinities (plus the Brits bribed him well), so it is unlikely that Spain would have joined the Axis. Yes, the idea of German power projection into North America was a long shot.

    BTW, the various War Plans Black determined that Germany could invade and hold either Long island or the Delmarva Peninsula, but not for more than a month or two. So the U.S. military of the time agreed with our guesswork.

  • “Is that still true?”

    Where I live in Central Illinois, yes I think it is. Most people I have encountered over the past half century plus here have been polite and good natured, even most people I have sued, and I know it is the rare family where several fire arms are not owned. These people would fight hard against an invading army coming across our green and pleasant land.

  • Churchill, a half American, understood his mother’s country, as he demonstrated by this quote after Pearl Harbor:

    “Silly people — and there were many, not only in enemy countries — might discount the force of the United States. Some said they were soft, others that they would never be united. They would fool around at a distance. They would never come to grips. They would never stand blood-letting. Their democracy and system of recurrent elections would paralyze their war effort. They would be just a vague blur on the horizon to friend or foe. Now we should see the weakness of this numerous but remote, wealthy, and talkative people. But I had studied the American Civil War, fought out to the last desperate inch. American blood flowed in my veins. I thought of a remark which Edward Grey had made to me more than thirty years before — that the United States is like “a gigantic boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it there is no limit to the power it can generate.” Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.””

  • Tom D-
    I can’t remember the wording he used, either, just the more famous movie version about a gun behind every blade of grass.

  • I have a monster-sized wargame called “SS Amerika” which tries to posit a realistic scenario under which the Axis could invade North America. Doesn’t quite convince.

    Essentially, the Nazis would need a Britain right off our coast and completely sweep the seas of the USN, RN and RCN. Can’t picture it–there’d at least be swarms of submarines to give the Germans “Battle of the Atlantic” nightmares.

    And what’s the Britain–Newfoundland? PEI? One of the other Maritimes? Hard to see how they would be secure bases. Essentially, they’d need to subvert several nations in the Western Hemisphere, and by that point, the Bomb would force a Cold War stasis of sorts.

  • “Where I live in Central Illinois, yes I think it is.”… (true that we would fight for our Faith and our Country — like in the vendee of France. If they attacked NY / east coast first and those folks capitulated already what would happen to the ‘The Grand Catholic Army of the Vendée’

  • Rather like Lord St Vincent’s famous quip: “I don’t say the French can’t come – only they can’t come by sea.”

    Without fighter cover (which they didn’t have) a German invasion fleet would have been blown outof the water as soon as it came within bomber range.

  • Essentially, the Nazis would need a Britain right off our coast and completely sweep the seas of the USN, RN and RCN.

    How about “Hitler doesn’t get stupid and the USSR sticks with their side”?
    That would give them a better route to the west coast, and more manpower. (It’s also hindsight-appealing.)

  • ‘Rather like Lord St Vincent’s famous quip: “I don’t say the French can’t come – only they can’t come by sea.”’
    The Brits WERE a bit frightened by a 1940 study that showed how the Germans could have dug a tunnel under the Channel with enough slave labor. The idea was feasible. So the Brits decided to keep an eye on the Calais area for the massive construction of the camps necessary for the slaves, and planned to bomb and kill them if the camps appeared. We know of course that no such thing happened, the Germans never got the idea into their head.

  • “I have a monster-sized wargame called “SS Amerika” which tries to posit a realistic scenario under which the Axis could invade North America. Doesn’t quite convince.”

    Indeed. Probably the reason why I sold off my copy long ago, along with my copy of World in Flames America. However I do still have as a prized possession Invasion America: Death Throes of the Superpower by SPI, along with their companion game Objective Moscow.

  • How about “Hitler doesn’t get stupid and the USSR sticks with their side”?
    That would give them a better route to the west coast, and more manpower.

    Foxlier, that doesn’t work well.

    During the Vietnam War the North Vietnamese were amazed at how much easier it was for the U.S. to move materiel across the Pacific than it was for them to move materiel down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Seaborne transport is and always will be the most efficient means of transport for military materiel. A compliant USSR could have provided only 2-3 months of access to the Northeast Passage for Germany, and in any case it would have been subject to air interdiction from Alaska. The Trans-Siberian Railroad could not have carried the necessary traffic (recall that an amphibious invasion requires more forces than a land invasion, so North America is a much harder reach than Manchuria to support this way). Even with the Japanese navy on their side and invasion would still have been a though nut.
    Still, it would make for an interesting war game, much more interesting than an Atlantic crossing.

  • Don:

    Yep–I still have Invasion: America and Objective: Moscow. I don’t have a playing space for the latter. I would need a Pentagon-like map room for it. Ah, for the days of Dunnigan and his mega-games.

    Interestingly, SS Amerika was originally going to be an SPI game, too–but there was a flood of (stupid) criticism suggesting it glorified Nazism, so it was shelved. When Ty Bomba and 3W acquired the rights to SPI’s catalogue, they finished it up and issued it.

  • “How about ‘Hitler doesn’t get stupid and the USSR sticks with their side’?
    That would give them a better route to the west coast, and more manpower. (It’s also hindsight-appealing.)”

    Yeah, that would work, but it would require Hitler to not be Hitler. His hatred for the Soviets was all-consuming. He could work tactically and briefly with them, but to expect him to co-exist for decades is way too much.

    And, more to the point: Eastern Siberia poses its own logistical problems: the Nazi-Soviet alliance would have to build a massive infrastructure to support an invasion, one well-within the reach of American bombers and usable only half the year. There was some brief fighting in the Aleutians in 1942, and it was difficult for both sides, though easier for us because we were closer to our bases. Doesn’t seem feasible, even with dogged determination.

  • If I may add, it should be pointed out that in 1941 the closest forces the U.S. had to Japan were in Alaska. Conceivably the U.S. could have invaded the Kuril Islands and then invaded Hokkaido, a different version of island hopping. Putting aside the fact that naval supremacy was not gained until 1944, the main problem is the weather there did not permit the U.S. to take full advantage of its air assets. Just another way of stating that Dale Price is quite correct.

  • Yep–I still have Invasion: America and Objective: Moscow. I don’t have a playing space for the latter. I would need a Pentagon-like map room for it. Ah, for the days of Dunnigan and his mega-games.

    Two of the chaps in Diner get lost in Maryland horse country and one says to the other, “Do you have the feeling there’s a lot of stuff going on we don’t know about?”.

  • Ernst Shreiber wrote, “Yamamoto or somebody else in the Japanese high command believed that an invasion of the West Coast was feasible, but that they’d never get over the Sierra Nevadas,”
    And, supposing they succeeded, they would then have to cross the barren interior – over two thousand miles of tundra, steppe or desert – before encountering the defensive wall of the Appalachians, which by that time would have been heavily fortified.

  • “have to cross the barren interior”

    Traveled much in the US MPS? Quite a bit of it would not be barren, at least after the West was crossed. Of course the people who lived in what snotty elites now refer to as “fly-over country”, including my family in Illinois, would have ensured that any Japanese army moving east had received a warm reception indeed.
    Admiral Yamamoto, who had studied in the US and served as military attaché here, at considerable risk to his own life from extreme Japanese nationalists publicly opposed every war like step taken by Japan in the thirties and early forties, reckoning that any war between the US and Japan would end in defeat for Japan. As he told a hostile correspondent:

    “Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.”

  • Donald R McClarey asked, “Traveled much in the US MPS?”

    I have visited the US only once. That was in the summer of 1966, when I accompanied a party from Oxford, who were making recordings of dialects. We spent some six weeks in the mountainous areas of Northern Arkansas, Northern Oklahoma and South Kansas. My friends especially wanted to record people who had grown up without radio or television, which at that time included everyone over 50 – Something impossible today. We had native guides and recorded many songs, stories and conversations. Their speech contains many traces of the Scots dialects.

    A charming, hospitable people, as rooted to the soil as the French peasantry and who could recite their pedigrees for five generations like Highlanders. We were often invited into their homes and, however humble the meal, no one sat down to table without remembering the Giver.

  • Lincoln nailed it long ago

    So long ago that it no longer applies. The US Lincoln referred to is now inhabited by a completely different species. And, quite frankly, I am not sure that some wouldn’t see the invaders as liberators.

  • “I am not sure that some wouldn’t see the invaders as liberators.”

    Nazis as liberators? Only the brain damaged. The US is still inhabited by Americans. People who use the American past to condemn the American present, often lack a familiarity with the pathologies of the past among Americans and view the past in a rosy glow. I note no diminution in the fighting prowess of American troops and I think the American people would give the same good account of themselves as they have against all armed invaders.

  • D.R.mcC. – i thought you’d enjoy this……

June 18, 1815: Waterloo

Thursday, June 18, AD 2015

  • The cannibal has left his lair.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 9, 1815.
  • The Corsican ogre has just landed at the Juan Gulf.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 10, 1815.
  • The tiger has arrived at Gap.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 11, 1815.
  • The monster slept at Grenoble.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 12, 1815.
  • The tyrant has crossed Lyons.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 13, 1815.
  • The usurper was seen sixty leagues from the capital.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 18, 1815.
  • Bonaparte has advanced with great strides, but he will never enter Paris.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 19, 1815.
  • Tomorrow, Napoleon will be under our ramparts.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 20, 1815.
  • The Emperor has arrived at Fontainbleau.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 21, 1815.
  • His Imperial and Royal Majesty entered his palace at the Tuileries last night in the midst of his faithful subjects.
    • Le Moniteur Universel, March 22, 1815.




Napoleon was such a world spanning figure that it was fitting that he return for one last bow before he departed the stage of history.  As Wellington said, the battle was a “damn close run” thing, and it is quite conceivable that Napoleon could have won, but for blunders by him and his subordinates.  Would it have made any difference if he had prevailed?  Likely not.  Massive Allied armies were on their way, and a victory by Napoleon in 1815 in the Waterloo campaign would likely have meant as little as the many victories he won in 1814 prior to his forced abdication.  By his return from exile Napoleon had demonstrated that he still posed a danger to the status quo in Europe, and after more than two decades of war Europe was not going to tolerate that.

However, let’s play pretend for a moment.  Let us assume that Napoleon had stayed on his self-made throne, what then?  He was prematurely old and he believed his time for war was past.  If he kept France, I think he would have been content.  France would doubtless have benefited from the good government that he could have bestowed on it, especially when he was no longer distracted by wars and rumors of war.  The Austrians, ever the political realists, probably would have been willing to have allowed the return of his son and heir.

What would Napoleon have done with the time remaining to him, especially if that time were greater than what he achieved on Saint Helena?  Assuredly he would have written his memoirs, and what books those would have been, especially if he chose to be honest!  Perhaps he would have played schoolmaster of Europe, and conducted classes on the art of war.  Such classes would have drawn officers from around the globe, eager to sit at the feat of the master.

Perhaps he would have put his spiritual affairs in order, as perhaps he did historically during his last years.

Alas for Napoleon he had none of these opportunities.  In the immortal phrase of Victor Hugo, God was bored by him, and 200 years ago Napoleon’s stunning career came to an end.  Let us give the last word on his career to the Emperor:

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10 Responses to June 18, 1815: Waterloo

  • For a palate cleanser after ABBA may I offer Wellington’s Victory? Yes, I know it wasn’t written for Waterloo but I’m not aware of any music that was.

  • I came back to read this post, seeking relief from thinking about what a mishmash our Church presents the world today. I didn’t want to read the green letter from the cadre in the vatican today.
    Earlier this morning I was looking again at the 11th century and wishing , for a moment, that the forces of Good could take back Rome again, physically fighting for the Right. 😉 (you remember Urban and the politics of that day…) The son of Henry the HR emperor left his dad’s side, unwilling to go against God. Others in political power also had consciences that recognized Truth. Centuries later Napoleon learned the hard way about Who Jesus is.
    “… Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.”

  • There is a lithograph, at one time ubiquitous and still occasionally to be met with in the bar parlour of country inns

    It depicts the famous handshake of Wellington and Blücher on the field of Waterloo.

    According to G K Chesterton, “They should have hung up a companion piece of Pilate and Herod shaking hands.”

    That much under-rated poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning caught the mood:

    “And kings crept out again to feel the sun
    The kings crept out – the peoples sat at home
    And finding the long invocated peace
    A pall embroidered with worn images
    Of rights divine, too scant to cover doom
    Such as they suffered – cursed the corn that grew
    Rankly, to bitter bread, on Waterloo.”

  • “It depicts the famous handshake of Wellington and Blücher on the field of Waterloo.

    According to G K Chesterton, “They should have hung up a companion piece of Pilate and Herod shaking hands.””

    Like Belloc, Chesterton was not quite sane when it came to the subject of France. Napoleon was defeated largely because his adversaries copied his military methods, and the idea of a nation in arms which turned Prussia into a great power again. As for the Revolution of which Napoleon was both Avatar and Gravedigger, its influence, for both good and ill, remained after Waterloo.

  • Chesterton may not have been quite sane on the subject of France, but he understood the English – no one better.
    “A war that we understood not came over the world and woke
    Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke.
    They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people’s reign:
    And the ‘squires, our masters, bade us fight; and never scorned us again.
    Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us then;
    Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men.
    In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains,
    We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains,
    We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not
    The strange fierce face of the Frenchman who knew for what he fought,
    And the man who seemed to be more than man we strained against and broke;
    And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke.”
    As for Belloc, his tribute to Napoléon is surely just: “he gave a code of laws to a continent and restored the concept of citizenship to civilisation.” – Legibus armata et armis decorata, as the Corpus Juris says, “armed with laws and adorned with arms.”

  • Chesterton’s idea that the British lost rights by fighting Napoleon was absurd. Rather they ensured their own continuing process of expanding rights, and avoided being governed by a dressed up military dictatorship. They were wise. It was under the Duke of Wellington’s government in 1829 that the great Catholic Emancipation Act passed Parliament. Chesterton, as usual, confused his opinions with history, to the detriment of history.

    Americans were citizens before Napoleon, and “citizens” under Napoleon had about as much to say with how France and the Empire were governed as subjects in the rest of Europe did in regard to their countries.

  • Very interesting you two!
    To me, Chesterton is always looking for the deeper meaning. This line of GKC
    “We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains” to me speaks to the ineluctable idea of “subjects” and the universal dignity of man..
    Nationalism. I am not the historian that either of you are, but do have been developing quite an interest in Irish history.
    A quote concerning Wellington from
    “It is probably true to say that any leanings Wellington had during the early 90s towards complete Catholic Emancipation, were checked by the events of 1798 and the years that followed. In addition, if Bonaparte could invade Spain and Portugal, why not Ireland, which clearly was the Achilles Heel of Great Britain? The French landing at Killala in ’98 in support for the Rising was evidence that such an invasion was possible, and, with the right amount of force, could strike a devastating blow. In addition, the aftermath of Revolution in France was soon to raise the spectre of social discontent and revolution in England, and the established order, already reeling from the Revolution and the regicide in France, was clearly very frightened by the prospect. Change in Ireland was out of the question.

    It might be possible to say that Wellington at the very least retreated behind a conservative if not reactionary facade until the genie of revolution was, as he thought, stuffed back into the bottle, and that, though he entertained positive opinions for the Catholic movement and wished to be moderate and evenhanded in all things, he could not support any change that would, as he saw it, threaten the stability of the United Kingdom. Therefore, his conversion to Catholic Emancipation in 1825 might simply have been a reconversion, or that he felt the time was now right to look again at the subject. ”
    Perhaps Wellington’s nationalism over-rode his concern for man..
    I take it that your comment Donald about the lack of clout held by citizens of France as in other countries does speak to that universal plight of people who are under authority, and actually acknowledges that “deeper” meaning I read in Chesterton’s words.

    Pilate and Herod both were dealing with realities larger than they knew.

  • Wellington was born in Dublin. Perhaps this had something to do with his support for Catholic Emancipation.

    Napoleon has his admirers and detractors. Quite surprisingly, Churchill admired Napoleon as a charismatic man of action. In my opinion, Napoleon can be described as a caudillo with more charisma than Franco, who invaded other countries and killed many people. He brought order to France, but he spilled plenty of blood along the way, both the blood of Frenchmen and foreigners. Some of the killing may have been in defensive wars, but much of it was in wars of aggression and aggrandizement. “What profits a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”

    As for myself, I prefer to live in a country where the politicians are boring. O, for more leaders with the character of Wellington.

  • Michael and Donald – great exchange -Napolean was as much a monster as the roylas who feared him – But, i ask, is that 3:03 and 3:20 A.M. EDST ???? or some other time zone – have your beds been ‘ nicked ‘?

  • MPS lives in Scotland. I usually turn in at 9:00 PM and sometimes I do not sleep in until 4:00 AM, my usual time to rise and shine. I live in the Central Time Zone.

Lincoln and His Second Term

Wednesday, April 1, AD 2015


One hundred and fifty years ago Lincoln was at the high point of his Presidency.  The Civil War was coming to a victorious conclusion.  His popularity would zoom to heights not reached by any President since Washington when on April 14, 1865 he foiled the assassination plot of John Wilkes Booth by wrestling him to the floor of the theater box at Ford’s Theater.  (One wonders if Booth would have succeeded if Lincoln had not been standing and stretching, his face to the door of the theater box, when Booth burst through the door.)  Less than four years later, he left Washington, widely reviled North and South.  Although revisionist histories appear occasionally defending Lincoln, the consensus of his contemporaries still stands:  that Lincoln made an adequate wartime President, but an abysmal peacetime President.  I think this verdict is overblown, but one cannot argue that his second term after the War was anything but a disaster.  Let us look at the factors that led to this.


1.  Former Confederate States-Lincoln’s theory was that the former Confederates States had never been out of the Union.  So soon as ten percent of the voters based on 1860 totals had taken an oath of allegiance to the Union and organized a state government that abolished slavery, the new state government would be recognized by the federal government and members elected to Congress seated.  This was far too lenient for Radical Republicans who feared that these new state governments would simply be replicas of the state governments that existed in 1860 with a de facto abolition of slavery while de jure blacks would be fifth class citizens.  Their fears were soon realized with new state governments recognized by the Lincoln administration adopting Black Codes, laws that severely restricted the freedom the newly freed slaves.  This remained a bone of contention between Lincoln and the Congress controlled by the Radical Republicans from the beginning until the end of his second term.

2.  Rights of Blacks-That Lincoln was sincerely committed to the civil rights of former slaves cannot be doubted in good faith by anyone.  The ringing words of his 1865 Fourth of July “Life and Liberty” oration before the freedmen of Richmond should eliminate any doubt on that score.  Throughout his second term Lincoln used military force to enforce the rights of blacks that were routinely trampled upon by the new governments in the former Confederate states that he recognized.  He was instrumental in establishing the largely black states of Liberty, Emancipation and Freedom in the West that ensured black representation in Congress and a haven for blacks disenfranchised in the rest of the country.  However, the use of the military was met by a virtual guerilla warfare in the South led by the Ku Klux Klan, often receiving clandestine aid from the governments that Lincoln had helped install.  This was all very confusing for the war weary citizens of the North, and a common complaint of “What did we fight the War for?” became ever more common in the North as Lincoln’s second term went on.

3.  Mary Lincoln- The assassination attempt on Lincoln seemed to unhinge Mrs. Lincoln.  She would often shriek in public to strangers that she knew that they were out to murder her husband.  Lincoln perhaps had no choice in having her committed to an insane asylum, but that decision added to his unpopularity.

4.  Fissions in the Republican Party-With slavery ended, the Republican party fractured between radicals and conservatives, former Whigs and former Democrats, and a myriad of different state factions.  Much of Lincoln’s time was devoted to healing these fractures, with Lincoln often receiving strong criticism from all factions for his troubles as a would be peacemaker.

5.  Seward’s Folly- Throughout the second term Democrats often attacked Lincoln for having run up a huge national debt during the Civil War.  This charge received more ammunition when the US purchased Alaska for 7.2 million dollars, which Democrats painted as money wasted for a worthless icy wasteland.  When it got out that Lincoln was considering attempting to set up  more black states in Alaska, he was subject to laughter and ridicule, often accompanied by a quoted statement from a black that he did not want to go and freeze in Alaska.

6.  Man of the Past-Lincoln often seemed like a figure of the past by the end of his second term.  Secession and slavery, the two issues most associated with Lincoln, quickly became relics of the past to a nation, at least the white part of the nation, eager to turn the page.  Heroes who win often seem outdated as times rapidly change, and that fate befell Lincoln.

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8 Responses to Lincoln and His Second Term

  • You’re good at this. You should take a stab at a book.
    Or is this what we’re seeing?

  • Thank you WK. For now it is merely idle amusement. If I live to retirement I probably will produce some alternate history e-books.

  • So long as you promise not to make Lincoln a vampire-hunter.

  • #2, of course, actually happened, although it was President Grant who used the Army to crush the KKK four years after this alternate Lincoln would have. And yes, after this success the Klan grew for a second time in Grant’s second term, and people of the North did then complain.

    The really interesting thing is to juxtapose #1 and #2. Reconstituted state governments led by ex-Confederates would have done everything to oppose the Army’s anti-Klan campaign, especially in Congress. For the Members of Congress it would have looked like the 1850’s all over again, but worse. This aspect alone would make a very interesting alternate history. One does wonder, however, how the canny Lincoln would not have foreseen this, or at least not listened to the Radical Republicans who did.

  • “One does wonder, however, how the canny Lincoln would not have foreseen this, or at least not listened to the Radical Republicans who did.”

    Oh, he foresaw it in my alternate history and that is why he set up the three black states in the West. Lincoln, a fan of Euclid, had a mathematical mind. He would have realized that he wanted two irreconcilable things: rapid reintegration of the former Confederate states back into the Union and the protection of civil rights for black. Lincoln would try to do both, as impossible as that would likely be, while laying the foundation for a better future.

  • Hmmm, “Oh, he [Lincoln] foresaw it in my alternate history and that is why he set up the three black states in the West”
    OK, that is a real complication. You have to come up with a reasonable set of politics that allows the country to support such a mass migration. You also need to explore the consequences: not all freed slaves would leave the South, so the perceived need by ex-Confederates for the Klan is lessened, but the effect of their depredations against the remaining ex-slaves is increased. So in the end you might have an ethnic cleansing. Also, how do the economies of these three states work? Like many attempts at redistribution, it could just produce poverty, and then alternate Lincoln becomes the father of a ghetto that someday might start its own secessionist movement. You’ve given yourself quite a task here Don. To be believable it must mirror real life: be subject to the conflicting ideals of real people (for example, Frederick Douglass would have opposed the idea, given his opposition to segregation and African resettlement), reflect politics compromise, and show both the glory and tragedy of American life.
    I wouldn’t mind peek before you publish.

  • “You have to come up with a reasonable set of politics that allows the country to support such a mass migration.”

    There was plenty of empty territory out West in the 1860’s. The colored regiments could have served as a nucleus for the new states. Both North and South would have had plenty of support for seeing newly freed blacks heading West, at least initially.

    “Confederates for the Klan is lessened, but the effect of their depredations against the remaining ex-slaves is increased.”

    Not necessarily. With blacks having an alternative where to live, it might have caused an improvement in conditions to keep black labor in place in the South. Blacks were an important part of the economy in the South, especially before agricultural mechanization, and if any black could head west with a train ticket paid for by either the federal government or private groups, there would be an economic incentive to treat them better, at least when labor scarcity was a factor.

    As for the black states becoming ghettoes, I don’t think so due to capitalism and our federal system.

    I doubt if Douglass would have opposed the idea, especially since Lincoln likely would have made him the governor of one of the black states during its territorial phase. The black states are less outlandish that the Mormon state of Utah, which established that American history is often much wilder than any novel.

  • “As for the black states becoming ghettoes, I don’t think so due to capitalism and our federal system.”
    Agreed, and I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. My point is that the western states developed economically due to the inward migration of people who were largely looking to better themselves economically. In your alt history we have people migrating to better themselves for largely non-economic reasons, and that makes a difference: freed slaves would have been tempted to overlook some initial deficiencies to avoid persecution. Yes, the Mormon experience points to a positive outcome, but there we are talking about a smaller number of people with a smaller footprint. I would think that the difference between success and failure in your alt history might hinge on the rate of migration. Also you need to look at the possibility of economic subversion of black states: a good place to look for inspiration might be the history of the Freedman’s Bank and the post-Reconstruction isolation of the anti-Confederates in Appalachia. Well, good luck, it sounds like fun.
    BTW, I disagree with you on Douglass: he would have insisted on a racially integrated migration in exchange for a governorship, if he supported the idea at all. Lincoln’s friends have to give him some heat in your history, don’t they? 😉

United Socialist States of America

Monday, April 28, AD 2014

An exercise in alternate history.

The path to the creation of the United Socialist States of America began with the death of President Franklin Roosevelt on  April 12, 1944 and the accession to the Presidency by Vice-President Henry Wallace.  Personally favorable to the Soviet Union, the new President surrounded himself with fellow travelers and security risks.

In the Presidential election of 1944 Thomas E. Dewey, the Republican nominee, denounced Wallace as “soft on Communism”, a charge that Wallace vigorously denied. Wallace was elected in a close contest with Senator Glen Taylor (D.Id) as his Vice-President.

Following the conclusion of World War II, Wallace followed a policy of rapid demobilization which was quite popular, leaving only three divisions in Europe for occupation duties. General Eisenhower denounced this as being an inadequate force and resigned from the Army.  Wallace turned a blind eye to the Soviet imposition of Communist governments in Eastern Europe, with his inaction being denounced vociferously by the Republicans and by many Democrats, most notably Senator Harry Truman (D.Mo.).

Which member of the Wallace administration secretly provided the Soviets with the blue prints to build atomic bombs in 1945 remains unclear, but suspicion has usually focused on Secretary of State Alger Hiss.  Hiss was certainly instrumental in turning Werner von Braun and his associates over to the Soviets in 1945.  By 1948 Communist parties dominated all of Eastern Europe and Italy.

Wallace was defeated for re-election in 1948, running on the Progressive Party ticket after being denied the Democrat nomination which went to Harry Truman.  Thomas E. Dewey, the Republican standard bearer,  won in the fall with Truman a close second and Wallace a humiliating third with 2.4% of the votes.

The Wallace administration was history, but it left behind in the government bureaucracies many individuals who served as agents for the Soviet Union out of ideological conviction.  Steps to remove them were only partially successful, and throughout the ensuing Cold War they provided steady intelligence to the Soviet Union which allowed it to maintain a technological parity with the United States as the years passed.  Rising to senior positions in the various government bureaucracies they sheltered younger agents who joined them over the years.

With the defeat of US forces in Vietnam, the Henry Wallace wing of the Democrat party became dominant, with George McGovern narrowly defeating Ronald Reagan in 1976.  Embarking on a policy of a 37% reduction in military spending, which represented in practice a policy of unilateral disarmament, McGovern was not a knowing agent of the Soviet Union, although it is difficult to see what difference  it would have made in his policies if he had been.  He steadfastly ignored the toppling of governments of Central America by communist insurrections and the swarms of Soviet advisors that helped prop up the new regimes.  The beginning of a Communist insurrection in Mexico in 1978 alarmed many in the United States, but McGovern stuck to his policy of “Come Home America” and continued his policy of non-involvement in military struggles abroad.

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7 Responses to United Socialist States of America

  • Obama is creating a USSA albeit in today’s alternate history.

  • I don’t know. The water gets that hot that quickly, the frog’s gonna jump. For this scenario to work, I think you’ve got to tell the story about Hollywood, the intelligentsia, the New York Times, et cetera, demonstrating to America that the Marxist model is perfectly viable, just an alternative approach to governance. In fact, it’s the next wave of development, and the US is falling behind. Would the US have even gotten tied up in the Vietnamese people’s great experiment in self-determination? Would we have looked to Mexico with anything but envy? Wouldn’t we have celebrated when England finally got rid of its parliamentary monarchy?

  • I see a few variations also

    1) If there was no Truman doctrine then not only Italy but Greece and even France may have fallen to their leftist parties and joined in some way with the USSR.

    2) It is doubtful that Truman would have been the 1948 nominee for President. Wallace may have held onto the nomination ala Jimmy Carter in 1980. In any case Truman was more likely if Wallace was on the way out to have been a kingmaker in 1948, supporting another candidate and perhaps ending up as the VP candidate.

    3) The real question is, what would Wallace have done if the Soviet Union were not attacked by Germany in 1941? Imagine an alternative where the German military, fearful of a repeat of Napoleon’s debacle, overthrow the Nazis and installs a leader more like Franco or Dolfuss. The American Left would have had no threatened USSR to save and would have continued to support the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Had Hitler’s alternative successor not declared war on the U.S. after Pearl Harbor, people like Wallace may have prevented the U.S. from seriously aiding Britain even if Roosevelt still lived. Franco might then have spurned British bribes and jumped in on the German-Italian side, and the Churchill government may have then fallen.

    It makes you wonder how God judges politicians (aren’t we all in some small way?). Aside from his leftist alliances and his dabblings in theosophy, Wallace was basically a good guy. He exhibited no sign of personal bigotry and spoke out against racism when it really mattered. He foresaw the agricultural ‘Green Revolution’ that would later save the lives of billions and helped create the institutions needed to support scientists like Norman Borlaug. Yes, we had a near brush with political disaster with him, but the world is unarguably a better place today because of his non-political work (Herbert Hoover comes to mind as a more conservative counterpart here).

  • “1) If there was no Truman doctrine then not only Italy but Greece and even France may have fallen to their leftist parties and joined in some way with the USSR.”

    Agree as to Greece. The French Army and DeGaulle would never have let France go Communist.

    “It is doubtful that Truman would have been the 1948 nominee for President.”

    FDR had been President so long that there was a real vacuum at the top for the Democrats. I chose Truman because I think he would have been leading the charge against Wallace.

    “Aside from his leftist alliances and his dabblings in theosophy, Wallace was basically a good guy. He exhibited no sign of personal bigotry and spoke out against racism when it really mattered. He foresaw the agricultural ‘Green Revolution’ that would later save the lives of billions and helped create the institutions needed to support scientists like Norman Borlaug.”

    Agreed. Wallace also supported American intervention in Korea, breaking with his Progressive Party, and published a book in 1952, Where I Was Wrong, stating that he was an now an anti-Communist and that he had misjudged Stalin and the Soviet Union. Wallace was a good man at heart but he allowed himself to be fooled by very unsavory characters who rallied around him in 48.

  • “The French Army and DeGaulle would never have let France go Communist.” Agreed. That’s why I used qualifications such as “even” France and “joined in some way” with the USSR. The question is how far could the leftists gotten before they provoked DeGaulle, and there is always the possibility that he could have been assassinated.

    The reasons I didn’t pick Truman as THE anti-Wallace leader in alternate 1948 is because a) he didn’t turn against Wallace until after he was president for a year or so and b) because he didn’t promote himself for VP in 1944 despite knowing about FDR’s declining health. Truman was a true servant of a republic and was not driven by personal ambition.

    “FDR had been President so long that there was a real vacuum at the top for the Democrats”. Agreed. The Democrats of those years certainly had competent men for the presidency such as Truman and Jimmy Byrnes (Truman’s favorite to succeed both FDR and himself), but both men had political baggage (the Pendergast machine and leaving the Catholic Church, respectively) that would probably have doomed a presidential run in 1948 had Truman or Byrnes not been the incumbent. That’s probably true even without a Wallace third party run to split the Democratic vote.

  • Don, I also agree with your assessment that Dewey would have become president in 1948. It would be interesting to explore the ramifications of that event.

    The most pivotal event of the 1950’s was Eisenhower’s election to the presidency. Had Dewey been president in 1950 the Korean War would probably have run out much the same as it did under Truman. The question is, would Eisenhower have run a challenge to Dewey in 1952?

    Had Eisenhower not been elected president in 1952 the later history of the Cold War would have been much different. Since he was a military professional he was able to see past some of the more extreme proposals for defense procurements. Eisenhower’s constant concern was to ensure that the buildup necessary to face down the Soviets did not wreck the U.S. economy in the process. The Fifty-Year War, one of the best books on the Cold War, amply documents this (it also documents JFK’s odd behavior, although his drug use was not public knowledge when it was written). See

    Eisenhower was the right man at the right time. Later American history could have been poorer and bloodier.

  • “The question is, would Eisenhower have run a challenge to Dewey in 1952?”

    Would Eisenhower have run as a Democrat? He had expressed disdain for the Democrat party and declined chances to run as a Democrat so I doubt he would have done so in 52. Ironically Dewey helped Eisenhower defeat Taft to gain the Republican nomination in 1952. If he had challenged Dewey for the Republican nomination in 52 he might have gotten it if Dewey had been as unpopular as Truman because of Korea. Of course then we have the question of whether Dewey would have fired MacArthur or would he have asked Ike to command the UN forces in Korea? Alternate history opens up endless vistas!

Was the Confederate Victory at Gettysburg Inevitable?

Sunday, June 30, AD 2013

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time.  Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago;

William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust

Hattip to Sir Winston Churchill.

As we prepare to observe the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, a question arises as to whether the shattering Confederate victory was inevitable.  I believe it was for the following reasons:

1.  Lee and Jackson-The most formidable military partnership in American military history, Jackson and Lee by Gettysburg had perfected the teamwork that made them matchless on the battlefield.  With Lee providing strategic insight and bold plans, Jackson was the perfect man to execute Lee’s will on the battlefield.  As Lee said of him: Straight as the needle to the pole he advances to the execution of my purpose. When fired upon by his own men by accident in the gloom of night at Chancellorsville, it was fortunate indeed for the Confederacy that although several members of his party were killed and wounded, he emerged unscathed.  Lee and Jackson hoped in their Northern invasion to produce a defeat so decisive that it would destroy Northern morale and end the War.

2.  Jackson and Stuart-The grim Cromwellian warrior of God Stonewall Jackson and the spiritual descendant of the cavaliers, Jeb Stuart, were, surprisingly enough, good friends.  After Brandy Station, Lee was concerned that Stuart was stung by the criticism of the Southern newspapers, and that might cause him to attempt one of his patented spectacular raids, precisely not what Lee desired in the forthcoming invasion of the North.  Lee sent Jackson to talk with Stuart.  Stuart describes the interview in his memoir, one of the classic pieces of literature to come out of the Second American Revolution, Riding the Raid (1880):

Initially I was perplexed as “Stonewall” described the plan of the coming campaign and that General Lee wished to use my cavalry as a coordinated attack force with General Jackson’s corps.  Then I realized this was General Lee’s characteristically polite manner of telling me that I was to follow Jackson’s orders in the coming campaign.  I will not pretend that I was not chagrined although I gave no outward sign of the irritation I felt to my friend “Stonewall”.  As it turned out this was yet another example of the brilliance of General Lee, the greatest soldier of our age.  If not for this order, I would not have been on hand to quickly scatter General Buford’s cavalry during the early morning of July 1, and General Jackson would not have been aware of how distant the Union infantry corps were from the all important high ground south of the town.  After that day I never entertained the slightest doubt as to the decisions of General Lee, even if they ran directly counter to my own opinions.

3.  The Hardluck XI- I have always thought that the XI Corps receives a disproportionate amount of blame for the Union loss at Gettysburg.  Any of the Union corps marching on to the battlefield as the XI Corps did probably would have fared as poorly, however that task fell to the same Corps that had recently been routed by Jackson at Chancellorsville, and hardly two months later they met the same fate at Gettysburg.  It was the luck of the draw that the XI Corps was at the head of the marching order that day and the first Union Corps to reach the field.  With the loss of McPherson’s Ridge, courtesy of Stuart, Jackson was free to march through Gettysburg and launch a furious assault on the XI Corps at noon as it attempted to deploy on Cemetery Hill.  After a half hour of fighting the XI Corps collapsed and headed southeast on the Baltimore Pike.  Seeing Union reinforcements arriving from the southeast, Jackson made no effort to pursue, but contented himself with seizing, completely uncontested, Cemetery Ridge, Little Round Top and Big Round Top and fortifying these immensely strong by nature positions.

4.  George Gordon Meade-Appointed to command the Army of the Potomac just two days prior to the battle, Meade has gone down in history as the man who lost the decisive battle of the War.  It is hard not to have sympathy for him.  He had indicated prior to his appointment that he did now want the job and he now had it under the worst possible circumstances, with no time to put his own stamp on the Army or come up with a plan of campaign on his own.  My sympathy does not extend to his decision to attack the now heavily fortified Confederate positions on July 2, 1863.  Meade had enough experience of the War to realize that a frontal assault on fortifications held by veteran troops of the Army of Northern Virginia was merely a colorful way to commit suicide.  The men making the attacks certainly did, many of them pinning notes with their names and home addresses on them so their next of kin could be informed of their deaths.  After the debacle at Fredericksburg this decision by Meade, albeit under heavy pressure from Washington to do something, was truly unforgivable.  Meade would have done better to withdraw and keep Lee’s army under observation, harassing Confederate foraging parties.  This would have forced Lee to eventually leave his fortified nest due to lack of supplies.  Instead Meade’s attacks cost him 12,000 casualties in exchange for less than 3,000 Confederate casualties.  Jackson favored a counter-attack, but Lee decided that he would wait and see what Meade would do the next day.

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13 Responses to Was the Confederate Victory at Gettysburg Inevitable?

What President Palin Would Not Have Done

Saturday, June 15, AD 2013


Oh, this is too brilliant. Hattip to House of EratosthenesMoneyrunner at The Virginian has a list of things a President Palin would not have done:

Palin would not have dismissed the Black Panther intimidation lawsuit that the government had already won.

Palin would not have seized two auto companies and give them to her cronies in and out of the UAW.

Palin and her supporters would not be claiming that her opponents were racists for disagreeing with her policies.

Palin would not have tried to block Boeing from building a factory in South Carolina as a gift to her union buddies in Washington state.

Palin would not have toured the world apologizing for America.

Palin’s Homeland Security Department would not have classified patriots as security threats.

Palin would have expanded oil and gas exploration on federal lands instead of reducing it, make the US even less dependent on foreign oil.

Palin would not have allowed the Pigford suit to be settled that gives billions of dollars to “farmers” that never farmed.

Palin would not have shipped thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels so that they could be found next to the bodies of murdered Mexicans and American agents.

Palin would not have encouraged the IRS to harass Tea Party groups.

Palin would not have encouraged the IRS to illegally reveal the names of contributors to conservative groups to Liberal organizations so that contributors could be harassed.

Palin’s IRS would not ask groups seeking 501(c)4 status about their prayer life.

Palin would not have passed a national health care bill that is a 2000 page “train wreck” and that threatens to destroy America’s health care system.

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18 Responses to What President Palin Would Not Have Done

  • But, but…she quit as governor of Alaska and she is not as smart as us and she doesn’t understand Catholic Social Teaching and, and…

  • Wishing you a special fathers day Donald.
    That the Father of all Mercy and your Lawrence are smiling on you. St. Joseph be your companion as you pray with Larry tomorrow morning.

    Please accept my apology for breaking into S. Palin shoulda, woulda, almost coulda.
    She would of been a breath of clean air in this polluted Obama administration.

  • I appreciate your kind words Philip.

  • Sarah Palin is not President today because the United States of America does not deserve Sarah Palin as President.

    This nation has the government it deserves.

  • She wouldn’t have proffered a fraudulent birth certificate nor needed to.

  • Sounds like Palin. About half of those items are not presidential actions (i.e., Boeing, which was a NLRB matter). But Palin would be hard pressed to know that.

  • As for the NLRB and Boeing Kurt if you do not think the Obama administration was involved in that, fine swamp land in Florida is waiting for you to purchase it.

  • @ Kurt, why do you assume that Sarah Palin would be hard pressed to know that half the items listed are not Presidential actions? Indeed, one may correctly argue that Barack Hussein Obama does not know the half that should be Presidential actions, or if he did, he would not enact them. Sadly, Sarah Palin was never given a chance by a vindictive news media that in any other circumstance would rally to the cry of elevating a woman to the Vice Presidency or Presidency itself. But ideology – or should I say idolatry – outweighs god sense. God bless Sarah Palin and God bring Barack Hussein Obama to repentance.

  • Sounds like Palin. About half of those items are not presidential actions (i.e., Boeing, which was a NLRB matter). But Palin would be hard pressed to know that.

    It was stated in an imprecise way, with the more proper rendering being “A Palin Administration would not have”.

    While we are at it, Kurt, I would point out that Gov. Palin had in 2008 11 years under her belt as a public executive. Barack Obama had zero. A fine example of his talents as an executive occurred on 11 September 2012. Helluva fundraiser the next day.

  • “But ideology – or should I say idolatry – outweighs god sense. ”

    This is not a typo, unless lack of capitalization counts.

  • WK Aiken,

    I had intended to write “common sense”, but my i-Pad and my fat fingers are an uncoordinated combination. Obviously, however, the de-capitalization of the “g” is indeed a typographical error.

  • Instapundit: “Ugly mockery is at the core of most lefty arguments.”

    In fact, President Palin’s appointments would have ensured that no such graft-laden, political payback occurred.

    @Kurt displays Obama-worshiping stupidity with a counter-factual regurgitation of errata.

  • God in His mercy did not allow Palin to be elected as she would have supported the military action, the terrorists (from outside) Syria who are wrecking havoc with Syrian life and killing them, she was not tempted to support the vilest AL Q terrorists in Libya and she was not tempted to be nasty to N. Korea or to Iran. God we have eaten lies and we do not know the truth so please bless us lie-eaters and help us to see behind satan’s masquerades in all areas of our world, show to us the truth hidden in the jungle of lies and distorted perceptions. Almighty Father please purge us from our misguided notions, give us pure hearts, courage, wisdom and EVERY grace necessary to help us to LIVE your Beatitude, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God.’ Hear my prayer and lead us to defeat satan Amen InshAllah Amen

  • I had to look up the phrase Isha’Allah. It means “God willing”. Assuming this is a reference to our Blessed Lord and Savior, I concur.

  • PWP: Interesting note from high school Spanish language studies.

    A word that is often spoken in subjunctive-verb tense phrases in the Spanish language is “Ojala!” Which is a bastardization of the Arabic “Insh’Allah.”

    Arab conquerors controlled most of Spain for nearly 700 years until “La Reconquista” was completed in 1492.

    Nobel Peace Prize Obama is about to start his fifth or sixth war in Syria.

    “Santaigo y cierra!”

  • It was stated in an imprecise way,


Lincoln Defeated

Monday, April 1, AD 2013

Lincoln Weeping

If the end brings me out wrong, ten thousand angels swearing I was right wouldn’t make any difference.

Abraham Lincoln



During the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the War Between the States, it is time to take stock of the War that severed forever the United States of America and led to creation of two American republics, soon to be joined by a third, the Pacific Republic, and, eventually, by a fourth, after Texas seceded from the Confederacy  during the Great Depression of 1893.  All of our American history, for good and ill, was irrevocably altered by the events that transpired a century and a half ago.  Could events have come out differently?  I think many historians would say yes, if Lincoln had not lost the election of 1864.

By the Spring of 1864 the Union war effort had clearly made progress but at a terrible cost in human lives and treasure.  The Union had succeeded in conquering almost all of Tennessee and Arkansas.  The Confederacy’s largest city, New Orleans, was under Union control and, in Lincoln’s phrase, “the Father of the Waters” went unvexed to the Sea, and the Confederacy in Texas and the unconquered portions of Arkansas and Louisiana were now cut off from the rest of the Confederacy by a newly hostile Mississippi.  The Union had established control of much of the coast line of the Confederacy and the Union blockade, a joke in 1861, had become a very grim reality for the Confederacy in 1864.  Today, most people do not appreciate how close the Confederacy came to defeat in 1864, although it was a common theme in speeches given at Confederate Victory Day celebrations throughout the South for decades after the War.  How did this all turn to ashes for the Union by November 1864 with Lincoln rejected at the polls?  Here are, I think, some of  the major factors:

1.  War Weariness-By 1864 most Americans, North and South, were heartily sick of the War, the huge casualty lists filling the newspapers giving a nightmarish quality to life.  However, there was a difference.  If the North lost the War, there would be little change in the life of most Northerners.  If the South lost the War, they would be under what most white Southerners now perceived as hated foreign domination.  Northern morale was as a result more fragile than Southern morale.  The South would resist until they could resist no longer, while the North would continue the War only if it could be brought to a victorious conclusion relatively quickly.

2.  Lee-Ulysses S. Grant was a fine General even if ultimately he failed in his goal of defeating Lee.  In his Overland Campaign he succeeded in driving Lee back to Richmond, and ultimately brought Petersburg under siege.  No mean feat up against a man now universally regarded by nearly all Americans as the finest American General.  Lee realized the caliber of General that he was up against in regard to Grant, and that Grant could not be defeated easily as he had defeated other Union drives against Richmond.  It took all of Lee’s immense skill to prevent Grant from taking Richmond, but this he succeeded in doing while inflicting casualties of 2-1 against Grant, and causing much of the North, including, privately, Mary Todd Lincoln, to denounce Grant as a butcher.  Grant had brought the Union close to victory, but only by an immense effusion of Northern blood, and the population of the North simply had no stomach for many more casualties in what appeared to be an endless War.

3.  Sherman’s Death-Sherman’s drive on Atlanta, which had been making progress, came to a sudden end on June 27, 1864 with the battle of Kennesaw Mountain.  Of all the Civil War might have beens, perhaps none are more poignant than what would have happened if Sherman had stopped the battle after the failure of the initial assaults as he was advised to do by General Thomas.  Instead, Sherman ordered two more attacks each bloodily repulsed.  As he went out to meet the retreating survivors of his last attack, Sherman was felled by a long-range shot from a Confederate sharpshooter equipped with a rifle and a telescopic sight.  Lincoln wished to place Thomas in command, but Grant, who bore animosity for Thomas, why still being something of a mystery, insisted on General James McPherson being placed in overall command.  McPherson wished to continue the offensive against Atlanta, but that simply was not possible after the fifteen thousand casualties sustained by the Union.  Resisting calls in Northern papers to fall back on Chattanooga, McPherson remained in place and awaited reinforcements.  In early September the offensive was renewed, with McPherson making slow but steady progress against a skillful and dogged defense by General Johnston.  McPherson placed Atlanta under siege, two days before the November election, too late to alter the outcome.

4.  Blind Memorandum- With the War stalled both East and West Union morale was faltering.  Lincoln’s morale was also faltering as graphically demonstrated by what has become known as The Blind Memorandum.  Lincoln sealed this document and asked his cabinet officers to sign it unread.  They complied.  In the chaos that followed Lincoln’s defeat the document lay forgotten for some twenty years until Lincoln mentioned it in his autobiography, Of the People, (1884).  Here is the text:

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.

A. Lincoln

5.  Cedar Creek- Lincoln’s prospects appeared brighter in September and October of 1864 with Union victories in the Shenandoah.  This came to a halt with the Confederate victory at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. In the aftermath Union commander General Phil Sheridan was sacked by Secretary of War Stanton, over the strenuous objections of General Grant, who had always considered him to be too young at 33 for such an important command.  Grant placed Meade in overall command of the Shenandoah theater.  The cautious Meade avoided any further Union defeats prior to election day, but did not succeed in winning any Union victories.  Democrats made considerable hay at rallies in late October with the fact that Sheridan had been fifty miles from Cedar Creek at the time of the battle and mocked his strenuous, albeit futile, ride to get to the battlefield in time to rescue the situation.

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23 Responses to Lincoln Defeated

  • Don, I know you’re the expert on history around here, but do you really think that the US / CS could have worked as a country over the long haul? I think we were doomed from the start. They’re, essentially, the northernmost South American oligarchy, split by racial lines. We’re the shining city on the hill, the last sign of progressivism with the freedom of pre-Hitler Europe. Sure, it’d be cool if we owned Texas instead of them pretty much owning us, but history has shown us that the South was never, ever going to give up on slavery, and as Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

  • True Pinky, a dissolution of the United States into separate Republics was probably inevitable, but Mr. Lincoln did come close to refuting that statement.

  • And to think the Original Gorilla opposed a government founded on principles like these. Why, the temerity.

    We, the people of the Confederate States, each state acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.

  • All of this will mean nothing when hordes of Californios overwhelm your petty little fiefdoms and drive up your housing prices. Why destroy your homes when we can buy five of them and drive you out? Union? No! Confederacy? You make us laugh. We shall turn your states into Ranchos named after the saints and build new churches out of adobe, the only truly becoming building material within which to worship.

  • Wow, I didn’t knwo there was anotehr Jon here. What amazes me is how much debate remains regarding the reason(s) behind the war. It seems to have been fought over more than one issue if you ask me. I would say states’ rights as well as slavery, and perhaps other reasons too.

  • It was all to defend slavery Jon, as the secession statements of most of the seceding states made clear. Here is a section of Jefferson Davis’ first message to the Confederate Congress:

    “The climate and soil of the Northern States soon proved unpropitious to the continuance of slave labor, whilst the converse was the case at the South. Under the unrestricted free intercourse between the two sections, the Northern States consulted their own interests by selling their slaves to the South and prohibiting slavery within their limits. The South were willing purchasers of a property suitable to their wants, and paid the price of acquisition without harboring a suspicion that their quiet possession was to be disturbed by those who were inhibited not only by want of constitutional authority, but by good faith as vendors, from disquieting a title emanating from themselves. As soon, however, as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the Southern States was inaugurated and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves. Fanatical organizations, supplied with money by voluntary subscriptions, were assiduously engaged in exciting amongst the slaves a spirit of discontent and revolt; means were furnished for their escape from their owners, and agents secretly employed to entice them to abscond; the constitutional provisions for their rendition to their owners was first evaded, then openly denounced as a violation of conscientious obligation and religious duty; men were taught that it was a merit to elude, disobey, and violently oppose the execution of the laws enacted to secure the performance of the promise contained in the constitutional compact; owners of slaves were mobbed and even murdered in open day solely for applying to a magistrate for the arrest of a fugitive slave; the dogmas of these voluntary organizations soon obtained control of the Legislatures of many of the Northern States, and laws were passed providing for the punishment, by ruinous fines and long-continued imprisonment in jails and penitentiaries, of citizens of the Southern States who should dare to ask aid of the officers of the law for the recovery of their property. Emboldened by success, the theater of agitation and aggression against the clearly expressed constitutional rights of the Southern States was transferred to the Congress; Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra fanaticism, and whose business was not “to promote the general welfare or insure domestic tranquillity,” but to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States by violent denunciation of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of impairing the security of property in slaves, and reducing those States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority. Finally a great party was organized for the purpose of obtaining the administration of the Government, with the avowed object of using its power for the total exclusion of the slave States from all participation in the benefits of the public domain acquired by all the States in common, whether by conquest or purchase; of surrounding them entirely by States in which slavery should be prohibited; of thus rendering the property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars. This party, thus organized, succeeded in the month of November last in the election of its candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

    In the meantime, under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States and the increasing care and attention for the well-being and comfort of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction. Under the supervision of a superior race their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South; the white population of the Southern slaveholding States had augmented form about 1,250,000 at the date of the adoption of the Constitution to more than 8,500,000 in 1860; and the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man. With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced. With this view the Legislatures of the several States invited the people to select delegates to conventions to be held for the purpose of determining for themselves what measures were best adapted to meet so alarming a crisis in their history. Here it may be proper to observe that from a period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of the States of the Union a party almost uniterruptedly in the majority based upon the creed that each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. Indeed, it is obvious that under the law of nations this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations of independent sovereign States, such as those which had united themselves under the constitutional compact. The Democratic party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvass in 1856, the declaration made in numerous previous political contests, that it would “faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799; and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed.” The principles thus emphatically announced embrace that to which I have already averted– the right of each State to judge of and redress the wrongs of which it complains. These principles were maintained by overwhelming majorities of the people in all the States of the Union at different elections, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809, and Mr. Pierce in 1852. In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well-established, and so necessary for self-preservation, the people of the Confederate States, in their conventions, determined that the wrongs which they had suffered and the evils with which they were menaced required that they should revoke the delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their several conventions. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all their rights as sovereign and independent States and dissolved their connection with the other States of the Union.”

  • Well then, perhaps states’ rights by default. I mean, to defend slavery it then becomes about states’ rights.

    I suppose you’re right, though. It was the belief of my Civil War professor that it was fundamentally fought over slavery.

  • But Jon, I’m the original Jon. Ask Don. ;`)

    Anyway, Don,

    But just think how much trouble that single little phrase may have saved us had our “Entlightenment” Founders in Philadelphia included it:

    “…invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God…”

  • We did have similar language in the Articles of Confederation Jon:

    “And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union. Know Ye that we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to us given for that purpose, do by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained: And we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions, which by the said Confederation are submitted to them. And that the Articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively represent, and that the Union shall be perpetual.”

    In regard to the Constitution the framers seem to have thought it unnecessary to repeat things from the Articles of the Confederation, for example the name of the country, that were not changed by the Constitution. A good book is waiting to be written on this subject.

  • Yes, I think it was always intended in teh documents that the union would be a perpetual union, not a mere colleciton of states that could secede at any time.

  • Finally got the chance to finish reading this. Superb, Don.

    Now remind me: What effects did all this have in the 20th century? It’s certainly interesting to think how events such as the Great War and the Continental Empire might have gone differently had there been a unified “United States” rather than the four republics.

  • After the War, the Confederacy fought a brief and successful war with Spain to take over Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Pacific Republic took the opportunity to take the Philippines from Spain. The Sandwich Islands were annexed by the Pacific Republic in 1892. The Republic of Texas took advantage of the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 to seize the Mexican states adjoining Texas, while the Pacific Republic seized Baja California. Further conquest of Mexican lands was terminated by President Roosevelt of the United States threatening to go to war if further land was seized from Mexico. Confederate President Woodrow Wilson quietly supported this initiative of President Roosevelt.

    Roosevelt led the United States into World War I early in 1915. The massive casualty lists that the US incurred detered the Confederacy and Texas from joining in the conflict, although a volunteer force of Confederates, under the command of a General George S. Patton (CSA), fought for the Allies as the Lafayette Division. The Pacific Republic declared war on Germany and seized several German colonies in the Pacific, almost coming to blows with Japan as a result. No Pacific soldiers were sent to fight on the Western Front, the Pacific Republic viewing itself as a Naval power in the Pacific and not being interest in territorial squabbles in Europe.

    Largely due to the massive early intervention of the United States, the Great War came to an end early in 1917 on the terms of status quo ante. The German government having dealt harshly with a socialist revolution of its own immediately after the War, gave support to the Tsar’s regime to put down an attempted Communist insurrection. Germany attempted to rescue the Dual Monarchy from a wave of nationalist rebellions, but ultimately Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, an enlarged Hungary and the South Reich emerged as successor states. The Ottoman Empire was prosperous having sat out the War, the only fighting the Turks engaging in involving the mass murder of Armenians.

    I will reserve the rest I think for a future post.

  • Jon/s – You have two problems in trying to define the cause of the Civil War. First off, you’ve got sympathizers for both sides, who are going to put their own emphasis on the causes. Secondly, you’ve got to deal with the fads among historians over the last 150 years. They were big on things like class struggle and economic determinism, uninterested in things like the influence of religion.

  • Interesting alternate history.

    As you know, Bob, in our history, the Central Powers (Imperial Germany, the United States, Austria and the Turks) defeated the Allies (UK, France, CSA and Russia) by spring 1917, albeit with horrific casualties running north of 2 million in each of the major combatants. The post-war reunification of the exhausted American states and the annexed parts of Canada have proven vexing and uneven to this day, though at least the guerilla fighting didn’t last beyond a quarter century.

    In many ways, North America is still trying to recover from that conflict, which saw massive fleet actions in the Atlantic and Carribean, along with trench warfare from California to Virginia in the south, and from Winnipeg to Quebec City in the north. The tensions between North America, German-dominated Europe and Japanese East Asia are also a source of concern, though a wary equilibrium keeps things from heating up beyond trade, currency and the occasional proxy war.

  • The consensus among most of the other “what if the South won the Civil War” alternate histories that I have read, or read about, is that the South and North would have reunited at some point during the 20th century due to economic concerns and military concerns as new superpowers such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia came on the scene.

  • Harry Turtledove did a good alternate history series with the Union and Confederacy being on opposite sides in World War I and World War II, with the South being on the losing side in both conflicts, and a fascist movement arising in the Confederacy after World War I. His depiction of total modern war waged on American soil makes me appreciate how lucky we have been since the Civil War.

  • I remember MacKinlay Kantor’s alternate history where the three American successor states reunited in the face of the Soviet threat. It’s back in print again:

    The thing is, there’s a good chance the Soviet Union would have been “butterflied away” by the consequences of an America disintegrating after 1865–e.g., there would be no Nazi Germany if Imperial Germany was triumphant, nor likely a Soviet Union (the Germans would have squashed it flat).

    FWIW, Roger Ransom’s recent alternate history/historical analysis of a sundered America is very convincing. He imagines the Great War taking place on the American continent, with reunification in the wake of Confederate (and Allied) defeat.

  • The South was ideologically on the losing side of history (if you want to put it that way). When England enacted the anti-slavery act, it was a losing battle for pro-slave people. Plus, the political movement was toward consolidation–it was an age of nationalism.

  • “there would be no Nazi Germany if Imperial Germany was triumphant, nor likely a Soviet Union (the Germans would have squashed it flat).”

    At least temporarily. I would not have bet much money on the long term stability of Wihelmine Germany as the dominant power in Europe. Politics tended to go to extremes with a growing Socialist bloc and growing strength on the extremist right. Assuming that Germany annexed Belgium and Northern France, revanchist forces would have been strong in the West. Germany would have been kept busy also in the East attempting to prop up the Austrians and the Tsar, or whatever regime acceptable to Germany took the place of the Tsar, unless Germany decided it was time to slice up whatever of European Russia they hadn’t taken in a Worl War I victory. I doubt if World War 2 would have involved fascists and communists, but I could easily imagine a big blow up in the forties in a German dominated Europa, with the death of the Kaiser perhaps being a signal for hostilities to commence.

  • Hard to say about Imperial Germany’s long-term prospects. Wilhelm II was something of a twit, and the German government under his regime staffed with a remarkable number of nonentities. A triumphant but still exhausted Germany could have just as easily seen a return to the prudence of the post-Kulturkampf regime. At a minimum, the Crown Prince had a reasonably moderate political head on his shoulders, and likely would have governed differently.

  • Boy, I’ve been out of the loop a long time on Harry Turtledove, I think when I was last paying attention he was still working through the series where aliens invaded during WW2. The southern victory series sounds interesting.

  • Darwin:

    It is. It’s also massive and borderline unwieldy. But it ends with a literal bang or two, and the humorous touches (e.g., what happened to Hitler) make it worthwhile.

  • Yes! Turtledove has great ideas for alternate histories but the execution, especially on his multi-volume series, is often lacking. He will robotically alternate between point of view characters in a set order. The volumes are filled with padding and could be slimmed down by at least a third with no loss of content. In some of the multi-volume series the writing is so poor that I have wondered if Turtledove has assistants taught to write in a “Harry Turtledove” style. He will often describe the same thing over and over again. For example in his series on the Confederacy, he had a rib shack as one of the locations in the volumes and each time he mentioned it, dozens of times, he would write how tasty the food was, and how saliva would leap into the mouth of point of view characters as they smelled the savory barbecue. In his one volume works and short stories Turtledove is a much abler writer, so I wonder if the multivolume series are part of a cottage industry he has established with less skilled writers composing most of the content, and Turtledove supplying outlines and minimal revisions.

Never Bet Against Theodore Roosevelt in a Knife Fight

Friday, January 11, AD 2013

From the Deadliest Warrior television series.  I have always enjoyed absurd alternate history speculations a la “What if Napoleon had a B-52 at Waterloo?”

By the time Lawrence of Arabia arrived on the scene TR was getting fairly long in the tooth and was in ill health, however, I would not have bet against him.  He used knives for killing fairly frequently.  This letter to his kids in 1901 is typical:


Keystone Ranch, Colo., Jan. 14th, 1901 –

Soon we saw the lion in a treetop, with two of the dogs so high up among the branches that he was striking at them. He was more afraid of us than of the dogs, and as soon as he saw us he took a great flying leap and was off, the pack close behind. In a few hundred yards they had him up another tree. This time, after a couple of hundred yards, the dogs caught him, and a great fight followed. They could have killed him by themselves, but he bit or clawed four of them, and for fear he might kill one I ran in and stabbed him behind the shoulder, thrusting the knife right into his heart. I have always wished to kill a cougar as I did this one, with dogs and the knife.

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2 Responses to Never Bet Against Theodore Roosevelt in a Knife Fight

Was the Victory of the Confederacy Inevitable?

Monday, April 4, AD 2011

(I wrote this for April 1, 2011 for the blog Almost Chosen People, and I thought that the various Civil War mavens who read The American Catholic might find this interesting.)

As we mark the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States there are many historical questions to ponder.  However, one question rises to the fore as it always does when the War Between the States is discussed:  Was Confederate victory inevitable?

Because of the ten following factors, I’d say that it was:

1.  Abraham Lincoln- Few Presidents have ever been elected with no executive experience, but that was precisely the case with Lincoln.    Although he could deliver a magnificent speech and was clearly a master of the English language, Lincoln quickly demonstrated that he was an amateur in running the government.  His frequent sacking of generals led to instability in the Union Army command, the frequently hostile relations with Congress, including members of his own party, that hampered his policies, the corruption that marred the supply of the Army, these and many more features of his administration attested to the fact that Lincoln was an extremely talented man who simply was out of his depth.  Perhaps the task was too large for any man to preserve the Union by force of arms, but certainly it was too great for Mr. Lincoln.

2.  Supremacy of the Defence-General Robert E. Lee quickly realized that the old Napoleonic charges were impossible against fortified positions held by troops armed with rifled muskets.  Although his troops initially meant the title derisively, Lee, the King of Spades, repeatedly used field fortifications, beginning in 1862,  to nullify the Union manpower advantage on the battlefield.

3.  Size of the Confederacy- The sheer size of the Confederacy, three times the size of France, ensured that the attempted Union conquest would be a massive undertaking, too massive as it turned out for the Union.  If British seapower, beginning in 1862, see number 6 below, had not caused the lifting of the Union blockade, prevented the landing of Union troops along the coasts of the Confederacy and contested Union naval control of the Mississippi river, it is conceivable that the Union could have coped with the immensity of the Confederacy, but such was not the case.

4.  Lee-Jackson partnership-No command team in history proved more effective than the Lee-Jackson combination.  Beginning at Chancellorsville, Lee and Jackson dealt the Union body blows at Gettysburg in 1863, and the Wilderness in 1864, almost a replica of the Chancellorsville victory a year before.  No wonder that Lee was the second president of the Confederacy and Jackson the third.

5.  Enlistment of black soldiers-After the victory at Gettysburg, Lee put his immense prestige behind the cause of enlisting black soldiers under the Confederate battle flag with the promise of freedom for themselves and their families.  Resistance to this move was immense in the Confederacy, but with Lee behind it all resistance was overborne.  The 100,000 black troops who fought for the South in 1864 were essential to the Confederate victory, and paved the way for the passage of the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1870, which President Robert E. Lee, just before his death, claimed to be his greatest victory.

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29 Responses to Was the Victory of the Confederacy Inevitable?

  • We have way too much time on our hands.

    Two words: Anaconda Plan. Union victory was inevitable barring complete (normal was plentiful but insufficient) incompetence ala Obama/Reid/Pelosi; or British military intervention; or the Northern population deciding “it” (preserve the “union”, emancipation?) wasn’t worth 600,000 KIA.

    1. Lincoln was elected on 40% of the popular vote. Obama was elected with 40% of the taxpayers’ votes and 98% of the taxtakers’ votes.

    2. Truth. I read (many years ago) a book by two university academics of a southern university that did a study which verified that. To start (like you say) military technology moves faster than military thought (oxymoron).

    3. Agrarian economy vs. industrial economy. North had large advantage in size of popuation, steel production, RR mileage, etc.

    4. See 2. Jackson died b/c of offense attitude.

    5. Glory-O! The freedman won the Civil War . . .

    6. After the USN stopped a Brit ship and arrested two CSA dipomats, the Brits moved 11,000 troops (battle-hardened killers from fighting hottentots and pathans) to Canada. Lincoln released the two.

    7. Uh . . .

    8. McClellan elected president . . . Troops were rushed from Gettysburg to NY . . .

    9. Uh, . . .

    10. Uh, . . .

  • The list falls down on #1. Lincoln, more than anyone else won the CW. Unlike Jefferson Davis he was willing to forgive (or at least overlook) any any insult or criticism, even near-insubordination from his commanders.
    This includes his handling of the Trent affair.

    #4: The Union had the manpower to make up its losses and the Rebels could not. With chilling ruthlessness Lincoln after Chancellorsville that if the battle were fought every day for a week the Army of N. VA would be annihilated and the Army of the Potomac would still be a mighty host.

    #5: Please. Early in 1862 Gen. Patrick Cleburne proposed just such an enlistment for emancipation scheme and was shot down. Jeff Davis said if blacks can be soldiers “our whole theory is wrong”. It wasn’t until late ’64 or early ’65 that the CS Congress began to start to consider bills for the arming slaves.

  • Lincoln made enough errors as President Thomas that if the War had come out differently he would have been blamed for the defeat. Lincoln understood that his reputation hinged on victory or defeat, and that nothing else mattered. Hence his 10,000 angels remark. Lincoln was fortunate to finally find a team in Grant and Sherman that could win the war. Up to that point his interventions in command appointments had not been especially notable for success.

    The manpower disparity I think is overrated in looking at the outcome of the War. The Confederates up until after the election of 1864 were able to keep enough men in the field to make it a contest. The problem for them was that in Grant and Sherman the Union finally had two first caliber commanders who knew how to make use of the Union resources to win. If McClellan had been in command of the Union forces in the east in 1864, I have little doubt that no progress would have been made in that theater by the end of that year, in spite of Union advantages in material and manpower.

    Actually on the question of enlisting blacks, that was a quote from Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, and not Jefferson Davis. Davis was in favor of the last minute proposal to enlist black troops at the end of 1864 which was far too late. Opposition to such a proposal would have been immense in 1863, but I believe that a victorious Lee at Gettysburg could have carried the day on the issue. That would have meant stepping into a political role however, something that Lee was always careful to avoid.

    This of course is all an exercise in alternate history, and also a lampoon of how many people tend to call something inevitable after it has occurred.

  • Alternate history can be fun, but frankly, you forgot the first principle which is the further away from an event something occurs, the less likely it is that it will occur in an alternate time line. Thus in a timeline where the Trent Affair starts an Anglo-American war, it is very probable that there is no Battle of Gettysburg; this is especially true if the Defense did adopt a strategy of defense.

    That brings me to the other fault of the time line. A philosophy of setting up static defenses on the battlefield favors the North more than the South. The South needed to remain mobile to ensure that they were not flanked and surrounded by much larger Union Armies. A South that digs in might be very hard to dig out again, but they are also trapped in their trenches.

  • “A South that digs in might be very hard to dig out again, but they are also trapped in their trenches.”

    That works if you have commanders not wedded to frontal assaults against fortified positions. Even the best commanders of the War: Lee at Gettysburg, Grant at Cold Harbor and Sherman at Kenesaw Mountain, made that mistake. If a general early enough in the War had started a policy of implementing field fortifications prior to every battle, or as soon as possible during a meeting engagement, a fraction of the army so fortified could have held up a far larger enemy force, leaving most of the army free to maneuvere and to strike.

  • @ DR McClarey: Certainly Lincoln made plenty of mistakes but his success was in holding together a disparate coalition, giving him time until he could find the right commanders and start racking up victories.

    @ MD Bill: Quite right though I might add that the South needed victories just as much as the Union did and support on the home front crumbled down south much faster than the north when they saw the price they would have to pay.
    Both sides expected a short war and the South was never unified until after the war in its celebration of the Lost Cause.

  • I enjoyed this Donald, especially the critique of Lincoln. You might have a good novel in the making, especially if your protagonist starts as a young black slave.

  • Thank you Nate. There have been many fine novels positing an alternate Civil War, but I guess the world could always use one more. 🙂

    In regard to Lincoln, I think it is fair to say that I am one of his biggest fans. However, how we view an historical figure is often contingent upon whether they achieved their goal. Lincoln was successful in his attempt to preserve the Union and end slavery, so short shrift tends to be given by most writers to his shortcomings as President. If he had failed, those shortcomings would assume major importance in any look back at his Presidency.

  • Don,
    Perhaps yes, perhaps no. A force that sets itself up behind static defenses looses the initiative. Sometimes, when you know when and how the enemy is going attack, that can be a good thing. But, unless you can stretch your forces across the entire potential front of the enemy advance, you need to be prepared for that force to be cut off from resupply or reinforcement.

    If you fortify part of your army, it might tie up part of the other army… or it might get left behind in the battle. Lee, did on occasion split his forces up to his advantage, but it wasn’t so that the smaller part could dig in.

    Finally of course, it slows your army down. The last thing Lee needed was to loose the initiative. The Civil War ultimately was lost when Grant was able to force Lee into static defenses. Yes, Cold Harbor was a victory for Lee, but it was his last.

  • Undoubtedly General Rosecrans took a little longer to secure Vicksburg than US Grant in the alternate history, but also with less casualties.

    I think some commentaries are missing the distinction between tactics and strategy. Tactically the defense was much stronger, but to win the war required an offensive strategy, especially the North. Clausewitz commented on about the Napoleonic Wars but US manuals followed the Napoleon’s model which emphasized the Grand Assault in a tactical offensive. The development of the rifled musket in the 1850’s vastly increased the power of the defense. It should be noted that while we are used to frequent changes in technology the rifled musket was the first major advance in infantry weapons in 150 years. Making the transition took much more time than would be the case today.

    The biggest item in the the manpower disparity was opening up the Western theater. The union mobilized more troops that it could have supported in the field in Virginia. Which gave them the troops to go west without hurting the Army of the Potomac, the South was forced to keep troops in the west that it needed and could have support in Virginia.

    The NORTH will rise AGAIN!

  • Mr. McClarey,

    You ignore two important points that make me think you’re missing the forest for the trees.

    First, in 1860, the South had nine million people (of whom five million were white). The North had 25 million people. Southern schools like the University of Virginia closed down because practically everyone volunteered to join the military, whereas Northern schools like Harvard stayed open because the North fielded only a fraction of its fighting men – and it still had a numerical advantage. As Shelby Foote once said, the North was fighting with one hand tied behind its back.

    Second, have you heard of names like Colt and Smith & Wesson? The North was vastly superior in industrial capacity. Remember that the South was an agricultural society which grew foodstuffs, cotton and tobacco but was dependent on imports from England and the North.

    All told, the South needed a short war to win. The longer the war dragged on, the more important were the North’s advantages in fighting men and industrial capacity.

  • The South had far greater motivation than the North to win. The South simply had to fight until the North decided it wasn’t worth it and “Let the erring sisters go.” As our American Revolution, Vietnam and many another conflict indicate, a vastly superior power can be defeated in a war, if it eventually decides that losing the conflict is preferable to continuing to fight it. Considering that all the political signs in the summer of 1864 indicated that Lincoln was going to lose in the Fall, and he thought he was going to lose, the Confederacy came very close to doing this. Sherman taking Atlanta, and Union victories in the Shenandoah, reversed Lincoln’s political fortunes, but it was a very near run thing.

  • The last gallant attempt by a people close to the land and motivated by chivalry was obviously doomed to fail – I can say that in hindsight. (despite the wicked tolerance and promotion of African slavery, which is an evil that would have ended. Note, there are far more slaves, including Africans in the world today despite the loss of the CSA and not merely because of an increased population).

    Clearly the American Union is a noble goal and on this point I agree with Lincoln and with Lee. I exclude ending African slavery as a goal, because the North did not have that goal in mind initially. Ending slavery was a political ploy employed after the ‘inevitable’ victory of the North at First Manassas did not occur.

    Sadly, like all human endeavors, the noble goal of preserving the Union resulted in a severe blow to the vertical check against tyranny and laid the precedent and the ground work for transforming the General Federal government into a Autocratic National government. Is the Union preserved? In some ways yes, the USA is intact, but is it a union of sovereign republics? In the form, yes, in actuality, no. Additionally, the same money power (of which Lincoln spoke against) that sought the disunion in the 1860s is now seeking the elimination of the Union through an open borderless society.

    If we do not restore the vertical check against national power by restoring a reasonable and checked autonomy to the states and commonwealths we will lose the Union and then not only is pondering a Southern victory merely a Romantic exercise (BTW – one I love to engage in) but a Union victory would then be rendered a Union defeat as the USA gives way to a controlled Western economic block of modern-techno-feudal ‘happy’ slaves.

    Nonetheless, all Americans fought nobly, yet, it is American tradition to favor the underdog and there is no question that the agrarian, romantic South with her sons who resembled Crusading Knights more than modern mechanized soldiers, were certainly the underdog.

    In truth, Waterloo was not the only dam*ed near run thing. Good post.

  • In the early phase of the War, the Northern and Southern generals were mostly West Point graduates. So on the strategic level, the War was a conflict of West Pointers versus West Pointers. But one advantage of the South was the high quality of generals it had – Lee, Jackson, et cetera.

    Without the War, Lee would have gone down in history as one of the best colonels produced by West Point. And Jackson would have lived the rest of his life as an obscure VMI professor who had served in the Mexican War. Who would have known that Jackson was one of the greatest military minds in world history? I think Jackson would agree with me that he would rather live in a world where the War had not happened and he remained obscure.

  • “I think Jackson would agree with me that he would rather live in a world where the War had not happened and he remained obscure.”

    Jackson thought the War was God’s will and he believed he was fighting a holy crusade. He also founded a Sunday school for blacks, slaves and free, and taught slaves to read, in partnership with his wife, although this was against Virginia law. In the War he would have preferred to have flown the blag flag, as he put it, to have taken no prisoners and put all captured Union soldiers to the sword. Since that was not the policy of his government however, Jackson scrupulously observed the rules regarding the treatment of captured enemy prisoners.

    “I have always thought that we ought to meet the Federal invaders on the outer verge of just right and defence, and raise at once the black flag, vis., “No quarter to the violators of our homes and firesides!”…But I see now clearly enough the people of the South were not prepared for such a policy. I have myself cordially accepted the policy of our leaders….President Davis and General Lee.”

    Complicated does not begin to fathom the many facets of Thomas Jonathan Jackson.

  • I weep that good people like Jackson had to die because of the War. I can only speak for myself, but I want this 150th anniversary of the war to be just a remembrance of the brave soldiers and their lives. If I can be spared yet another lecture on the South being evil, I don’t think I’ll miss it.

  • The North and the South both brought on the war through their tolerance of slavery:

    “If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?”

  • Consider that the death and destruction fell disproportionately on the South. Before the War, Northern merchants and manufacturers were also complicit in the slave trade and the cotton trade, but I cannot think of any permanent damage the War caused them.

    Sherman made good on his promise to turn half of Georgia and South Carolina into a howling wilderness – there are parts of both states where there are no buildings older than 1865. Mississippi spent 20% of its state budget on crutches the year after the war. Indeed, the South would not recover until World War II – a verse from Alabama’s Song of the South goes like this: “Well somebody told us Wall Street fell [in 1929] but we were so poor that we couldn’t tell.”

    Note that the federal government helped rebuild Japan and Germany after World War II, but after the War between the States there was no Marshall Plan for the South. I am grateful that Cornelius Vanderbilt endowed the university that bears his name, but this is one of the few acts of postwar Northern generosity I can think of.

  • “Consider that the death and destruction fell disproportionately on the South.”

    The families of the Union dead, some 340,000, and the Union maimed and crippled would beg to differ.

    “Before the War, Northern merchants and manufacturers were also complicit in the slave trade and the cotton trade, but I cannot think of any permanent damage the War caused them.”

    Confederate raiders actually dealt a serious setback to the merchant marine of the Union that took decades to recover from.

    “Sherman made good on his promise to turn half of Georgia and South Carolina into a howling wilderness – there are parts of both states where there are no buildings older than 1865.”

    Give me a break! The main problem for the South after the Civil War was the insistence on attempting to hold blacks still in virtual slavery. Pathetically bad race relations throughout the South was the major factor in the delay of industrialization throughout the South. Booker T. Washington understood this, which is why it is a great pity that the initial positive reaction to his Atlanta Compromise Speech in 1895 by whites in the South wasn’t acted upon.

    The attempt by the powers that be in the South to keep blacks as fifth class citizens had far more to do with poverty in the South than any lingering effects of the Civil War.

  • All the same, it would be nice to hear a Northerner express condolences for all the Southerners who died in the war.

  • All well and good, but at the risk of repeating myself, “If I can be spared yet another lecture on the South being evil, I don’t think I’ll miss it.” I am a Catholic and a Southerner. Call me thin-skinned, but I don’t take too kindly to criticisms of my beloved South. Most of us are well aware of our moral imperfections without them being slammed in front of our face. I might be able to take criticism coming from a fellow Southerner, but that’s my limit.

  • “The attempt by the powers that be in the South to keep blacks as fifth class citizens had far more to do with poverty in the South than any lingering effects of the Civil War.”

    I’m reminded of that section of Frederick Douglass’ autobiography where he describes the culture shock of going from Baltimore to his first home in freedom, New Bedford, MA. He was astounded by the dynamism of the latter compared to what was a fairly prosperous and commercial Baltimore. He ascribed the difference to the existence of entirely free labor, which has cascade effects throughout society, right down to how well the streets were swept.

    Not that he didn’t experience raw racism in the north–far from it. But the racism of men who couldn’t sell him was reasonably easy to bear.

  • Mico,
    Just a point, but I am not sure that all Southerners are aware of the moral imperfections of the past. I have met more than one Southerner who has tried to deny, repeatedly, that slavery was a major, if not the major cause of the war (They often concentrate on what the North has to say about maintaining the Union while ignoring what the Southerners of the time said about why they were seceding); they speak with nostalgia of the days of Jim Crow (Trent Lott got in hot water over this).

  • Oh a minor nitpick… The rifled musket was not a new invention. It had been around for hundreds of years and was famous for its use in the American Revolution, and has become famous to readers of historical fiction in the Sharpe’s Rifles series for its use in the Napoleonic Wars.

    What was new was the invention of the minie ball. Prior to the invention of the minie ball, loading a rifled musket was a painfully slow affair; too slow to make it an effective weapon in the main battle force. Thus the rifle, if used at all, was limited to skirmishers. The minie ball allowed rifled muskets to be loaded about as quickly (maybe a little slower) as a smooth bore musket. The effects of this were of course as described.

  • You are correct Maryland Bill. I used the term rifled muskets as shorthand for the minie-ball and the fact that almost all the muskets in the Civil War were rifled as a result. A recent revisionist study contends that the impact of the rifle musket in the Civil War has been greatly exaggerated:

    I find that hard to believe, although I think I will probably get this book to assess the argument that the author makes.

  • MarylandBill: Note that I used the word “most” not “all.”

  • Mr. McClarey, this is just my opinion but in your list of top ten factors, I would make Factor No. 4 into No. 1. We will never know how Gettysburg would have turned out with Jackson still alive.

  • Dale Price: New England ship owners and ship captains were knee-deep in the slave trade. Racism is not confined to the South.

Alexander the Great

Saturday, March 26, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  The song Macedonia to the tune of Sharona by the Knack, by the endlessly talented folks of History for Music Lovers.  Alexander the Great, living refutation of the idea that history is all grand vast processes and that individuals matter for little.  In his brief 32 years he had a larger impact perhaps on this world than any other one man in secular history.  The spreading of Greek culture in the East led to the vast cultural synthesis of Hellenism, and had a huge impact upon Judaism and, eventually, Christianity.  It is somewhat frightening to think that so much of our history depended upon the military prowess of one man.

What if Alexander hadn’t turned East?  What if he had turned West?  The Roman historian Livy, in one of the first examples of alternate history, mused about what would have happened if Alexander had marched against Rome.

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3 Responses to Alexander the Great

  • Being a two-bit, wannabe gold bug, I recently compiled a history-time line of gold. Of interest, Alexander obtained $1 billion in gold from his conquest of Persia. Previously, Egypt had become “wealthy” from Nubian gold, as did Rome, when it took Spanish gold mining areas from Carthage.

    Despite evident Livy’s chauvinism, I (it would have been extremely close-run) tend to agree that Aleander would not have prevailed against Rome. Rome would not have defeated him in the field. Alexander would not have been able to take Rome. We have the example of Hannibal to ratify that determination. It would have been close.

    Also, agree with Livy, Rome rotted from within.

  • A great and interesting read. The author of The Seven Deadly Sins recounts a story that Plutarch wrote about Alexander the Great. Alexander, in a drunken rage, seized a spear and killed an old friend and faithful soldier who had criticized him. At once Alexander felt remorse and drew the spear from the dead body and would have dashed it into his own throat but for his bodyguards. According to Plutarch, Alexander spent day and night in bitter lamentations and lay speechless worn out with his cries and wailing. His friends were alarmed enough to enlist the help of a philosopher who soothed him and told him that the whole world should not see him on the floor weeping like a slave in fear of law and censure of men, because Alexander should himself be a law and measure of justice since he has conquered the right to rule and mastery, instead of submitting like a slave to the mastery of vain opinion. The whole point of the story was that rather than encouraging Alexander to accept his guilt and mend his ways, the philosopher absolved him of guilt. Alexander wasn’t allowed to complete the process of repentence and become a better man, because he now thought himself guiltless and his ambition and vanity were fed by the philosopher.

    In contrast, consider the story of King David and Nathan. David put Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, opposite the enemy where the fighting was fiercest in the hopes he would be killed so David could sleep with his wife. But Nathan, a prophet, told David of a cruel rich man who stole the only ewe lamb of a poor man and tells David he is the cruel man. David acknowledged his guilt and was able to repent.

  • “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” Mark 8:36