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American Civil War Campaign Season of 1886


As the snows and fierce coastal storms of winter fade, opening mountain passes and firming up formerly mud-slogged roads, the campaign season in the American Civil War begins again. It will be unlike anything Americans have ever seen before; the battles of yesteryear will live on in memory only for ferocity. In scale and reach, the American Civil War now touches every corner of the formerly United States. It is fought in ten thousand places, from the fortifications of Richmond to the hills of Chattanooga, from the fields of Pennsylvania to the bayou of Louisiana. The formerly aloof Republic of California, content to grow wealthy off the conflict of others, has finally asserted itself and entered the Southwest in the name of defending settlements from the unchecked rampage of the Apache, only to be drawn into conflict with the Mormon theocracy of the State of Deseret who bear their own ambitions for the territory. On the Great Plains, the sovereign Indian Nation rides unconquered, while the Pueblo of the Four Corners seek a state of their own. Even across the borders, the war now ripples through colonies and nations, as filibusters rise up in Belgian Cuba and the fiercely free Empire of Haiti joins the fight for abolition for all men. But above all, the world is now drawn into this maelstrom: the empires of Britain and France send in intervention forces to arrest this deadlocked struggle in the name of civilization, fought now not just for union or independence, but for ideology and the fundamental understanding of the rights of man, a cause more interminable than any yet conceived.

As the campaign season begins, more than two million men march to war. Every nation of the former United States has now mobilized everything they've got for this last push, and this shall not be just the bloodiest year of the war; it will be the decisive one. Whoever gains the upper hand now will have victory in their grasp. History is about to be made.
French Break Through to Austria-Hungary in Battle of Lindau-Lindenberg


A mythologized representation of France's conquest of the Alps: the artistic rendering has been hailed as an immediate masterpiece in Europe

Following a severance of its connection to its beleaguered ally of Austria-Hungary, a result of a surprise Northern German counterattack late last year, France resumed its military tour de force in the South German Realms with an offensive aimed at liberating the crucial Bregenz Pass, which is the main connection between the Habsburgs and their new Bonaparte in-laws. To conquer it, France spared nothing, financing armies armed with the latest cutting-edge weaponry, raising new organizational methods, and marching with overwhelming force in numbers. With their armies heavily engaged in an offensive against Austria-Hungary, with one prong jabbing towards the capital of Vienna itself to knock the venerable empire out of the war once and for all, the Northern German Confederation rushed together a garrison to stop them: including the III Armee-Inspektion, the veterans of Villengen. There they dug into the commanding heights of Mt. Pfänder, which dominates the Eastern shores of alpine Lake Constance and the bend to Bregenz, creating an array of formidable earthworks, and although heavily outnumbered they awaited the coming storm.

The French Army was tasked with conquering mountains, but with their technological advances and numerical strength, they held the advantage. Storming the heights was nonetheless extremely risky, but the French struck precisely where the German defenses were weak, and carried the tricolor to the heights of Mt. Pfänder. In doing so, the French also made history, deploying an armed airship in combat for the first time ever while supporting the attacking infantry ascending the mountain. The practical repercussions of the battle were also significant: as a result of their triumph, the French managed to rush a Corps to the aid of the Austrians, filling a crucial gap in their defenses around Vienna and ultimately saving the city. Young Emperor Napoleon IV is now the toast of Europe, but the connection his army forged through the Alps is still tenuous, while casualties taking the pass were heavy. France has saved the ailing Habsburg Empire and averted German unification: for now. Will the French be able to continue their successes to victory?
Expeditions Have Embarked for the Congo!


The Competition is on: as we speak, expeditions from around the world are making for the exotic ports of far Africa, destined for the rumored myth hidden somewhere in the depths of Darkest Africa. To get them there and claim the prize first, nations and empires have spent royal sums in hopes of claiming the greatest treasure ever unearthed, the source of such fabulous wealth to have made ancient kings and queens who possessed it thousands of years ago the stuff of legend. Somewhere in the Ituri Impenetrable Forest, are the mines that produced a diamond the size of an eagle’s egg: and it is now up to you, to lead your expeditions to their discovery and claim them for your nations to your eternal glory. Great peril lies between your expeditions and success in the blank spaces of the map, however, and you will not only have to compete again the elements, natives, and your fellow expeditions, but a greater, unknown danger that lies within the Ituri at the feet of the Mountains of the Moon. Africa bears within its heart mysteries and power unknowable to the might of civilizations East and West. Will your expedition succeed, and claim the lost Mines of Solomon, or disappear and perish in the looming jungle of the Congo?

With the start of the Competition, we would like to announce the participating expeditions embarking for the Congo in 1886:

The Hawaiian-Chinese Oriental Expedition Consortium (Hawaii/Qing)
Imperial Scandinavian Congo Expedition (Sweden)
Near East Congo Exploratory Expedition (Ottomans)
Novo Kongo Company Expedition (Brazil)

The first Expedition cards, and Interturns, will be released shortly. To our intrepid explorers, we wish you luck, and Heia Safari!
I'm sorry to see that the troubles on the north American continent have so increased in breadth and intensity and, as I said last year, we fear the humanitarian situation can only continue to deteriorate. Denmark will be keeping an eye on and countering any destabilising influences to our possessions in the Caribbean, especially any questionable behaviour by those filibusters who have risen up in Belgium's Cuba.

We do also wish all the best to those who brave the Congo
Bongo bongo bongo
He don't wanna leave the Congo
Oh no no no no nooooo

The Polynesian Confederation applauds the endeavours of the  American natives trying to take back the land that was stolen from them by the imperialist Europeans! And will, as always, lend any diplomatic support to their endeavours.

Dear Players, Hosts, and Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I have to impart some bad news upon our group. Unfortunately, due to the IRL commitments of my dear co-host Monty, whose full contributions to Balance of Power 1884 and as a friend are truly beyond measure and cannot be undervalued, will unfortunately be bowing from the stage. Although appreciation is given to the volunteering of Arc and Sarado to the assistance, their own important commitments are pressing and with this regard, it is my regret to announce the Final Act for 1884. Since the game’s beginning, we’ve seen many groundshaking events and the game has grown enormously from its start, and while things were culminating to make this quite possibly the decisive turn of the game, it unfortunately shall be its last.

For avid fans of Balance of Power and the game, however, worry not! 1884 will be going out with a bang, and the Competition which has already begun will be seen through to its conclusion. Most importantly, a final Epilogue Global (which is progressing very well and should be completed soon) will be released to provide closure for all our players who wish to see where they ended up and where things were going.

Lastly, this will not be the last you’ll be seeing of me, and I’ve already begun plans on the next big thing in BoP: albeit on the smaller scale, turning back the dials of time where my more narrative penchant for writing can find a closer fit for faster turn times and less processing bloat. I’ll be posting the ideas, most likely, after the final Global is posted, with a potential for a community vote on the next setting, but for those interested in continuing on as players or joining as co-hosts in the next game, I as always greatly appreciate your support!

This chapter in BoP history ends and 1884 sees its sun set on one last New Year, but a new page will be turned and I hope to see many of the faces I’ve become familiar with through the past years of diplomacy, industry, and strife in the new story! To all my players, and co-hosts past and present, it has been my absolute delight to have hosted alongside you and you have been more wonderful than I could have ever asked for! To all of you, I bid adieu and au revoir, and the maestros of the concerto may expect one last finale crescendo.

Our Most Fondest Regards,
Your Hosts
Sad to see it end, but I have a feeling I was one bad turn away from being knocked out of the game anyways. It'll be interesting to see if I survived the New Year.

Thanks for all the time and effort you guys put into hosting! It definitely took me a lot of time to get my bearings with a country as unwieldy as Qing China, but it was nevertheless a lot of fun, so I appreciate you guys giving me the chance to figure things out. <3
TURN 3: 1886

The American Civil War: The Decisive Year

Not all the calamities of God could compare to the forces being mobilized for war on the American continent, as a war which had already attracted the attention, even intermittent intervention, by the outside war became truly international. The American Civil War, which began as a division of the United States over issues of slavery and state’s rights took another dimension over the fundamental spirit of the American nation, one of economic freedoms or social rights to equality, for nativist exceptionalism or international brotherhood, of empires or sovereignty. At the beginning of the year, more than 2 and a half Million soldiers were being raised for the war, which arrived on the homefront of every corner of what was once God’s chosen land. By the end of 1886, 800,000 men lay dead, wounded, or missing, more than twice all the previous months and years of combat combined.

War would come on three major fronts, and half a dozen minor theaters of war, as the Union’s titanic mobilization of a million men was matched by the intervention in force at last by Europe’s empires on behalf of the Southern Confederacy. The French Empire under the young Napoleon sent one of their New Corps to directly aid the South, who without their aid would have buckled in the mismatch of manpower and industry against their Northern foe, but Britain would prove Richmond’s firmest ally: their celebrated, if rather costly, naval victory at Montauk Point was only a prelude. They summoned the full resources of their Empire, and mobilized the Volunteer Rifles of the Home Isles to foreign shores for the first time, to raise a force 400,000 strong marshalled in the Dominion of Canada capable of bringing the war directly into the pumping industrial heart of the Union.


The heroic stand of the Union Navy at Montauk Point

A lull in the fighting on the major fronts as the opposing sides mobilized their forces across land and sea, nonetheless proved contentious in smaller theaters scattered across the Western Hemisphere. Forces of the California Republic and the de-facto independent Mormon State of Deseret clashed over the Southwest Territories, and Native Americans swept through the West as the Union pulled back its troops to support more vital initiatives elsewhere, abandoning the High Plains to the Indian Nation. An Uprising of a motley army of filibusters, freedom fighters, abolitionists, revolutionaries, and pirates and privateers in Belgian Cuba tacitly supported by the Union and the Empire of Haiti threw Havana into disarray, with newly arrived Belgian garrisons barely able to keep a lid on the colonial capital while the countryside saw widespread insurrection.

All however held their breath for the major offensives to come, which with the beginning of a relatively mild Summer perfect for marching, began with the almighty thunder of thousands of guns as the Republic began their endgame. Two major pushes were inaugurated near simultaneously: one bearing hard down the Upper South through Kentucky and the Tennessee Valley, the other constricting around the Southern capital of Richmond like an anaconda in a vise-like siege. Allocation of forces in these engagements was crucial, and high commands on both sides staged emergency conferences on redeploying forces to the year’s initiatives, effectively placing odds on a gamble that would decide the war. The Union command would opt to remain with their initial strategic plans, while the Confederacy and Intervention forces decided for some last minute changes which, in the end, would prove crucial.


The victorious Battle of Chattanooga knocked the Western heartland out of the Confederacy, and was the Union's biggest victory to date

The Confederacy would not give up without a hard fight, but nonetheless while their friends abroad slowly gathered their forces, the Northern avalanche proved inexorable. Initially badly outnumbered around Richmond, the Southerners were powerless to prevent the gradual encirclement of the capital, necessitating constant lengthening of their defenses until looping around the entire capital area. The North would strike its most glorious victory at the Battle of Chattanooga, the transportation hub and railhead for the entire Confederate heartland, where the Union Armies of Ohio and Cumberland would scatter the badly outnumbered and outgunned Confederate Army of Kentucky and their reinforcements from the veteran Army of the Mississippi, scoring revenge for the disastrous Battle of Belleville of yesteryear. Fighting would prove altogether harder against the more dug-in positions around Richmond, but numbers and newly invented technological advantages in small arms and artillery devised by Yankee inventors and luminaries made the South bitterly give up crucial ground.

The hurried arrival of the French, initially deployed in piecemeal to plug gaps in the defenses, nonetheless proved effective in stopping some of the most determined assaults on the Richmond Line, deploying technological miracles of their own with newly licensed Maxim Gun repeaters repulsing Union attacks with heavy casualties. The US Army had learned from the lessons of yesteryear, dropping the massed human waves and adopted new tactics to take on the trenches and repeating guns of the Rebels, and in the Battle of Petersburg managed to knock out the crucial rail gateway into the capital with the aid of a vainglorious steamer attack down the James River, completing the encirclement. Exceptionally bloody fighting continued, even continuing into the capital itself in savage street fighting which became awash in blood and fire, where the Southern president is said to have participated himself in combat, before the Allied counterattack at last fell on the Union: not in Richmond, but advancing Southwards from the Great White North. The British were coming.


The Confederate capital of Richmond under the most desperate siege of the 19th Century

Commanded by none other than newly promoted Field Marshal Charles Gordon, freshly arrived from his adventure and rescue in the Sudan, he nonetheless had his work cut out for him. Alongside a smaller core of hardened professional soldiers, many with experience in the Mahdist War, the vast bulk of his army, the largest command ever presided over by a British officer, was composed of Home Island troops used to cushy garrisons in the British Isles, or freshly mobilized units of the Volunteer Rifle militias. Mobilizing and deploying them alone took an enormous amount of effort, and time, thus when their first major offensive began, it started only as the leaves of the North began to turn their colors. Regardless, when it began, there was no stopping it, sweeping through the industrial regions of the Great Lakes with hardly any opposition. Only once engaged by the Armies of Illinois and the Mississippi were they opposed, and amidst the derrick-crowded oil fields of upper Pennsylvania, they fought the Battle of Seneca.

The Union Army was outnumbered by a hundred thousand men, but the British forces were poorly coordinated with each other, and divided from their vanguard as the massive army crossed the Allegheny River at Oleopolis. General Pittgrove of the Army of Illinois made a brilliant early attack on the cut-off vanguard, composed mostly of over-eager Volunteer Rifles, which routed their brigades and sent them scattering over the Allegheny with the severest casualties. Attempts to follow up the victory and send the British invasion reeling back over the St. Lawrence River into Canada was fumbled as Field Marshal Gordon counterattacked, using a force of the Rifle Militia to delay the Yankee advance while striking their flank with his seasoned Sudanese veterans. Union communications and maneuvers became increasingly erratic as the constant lobbing of artillery shells lit the petroleum derricks, turning the battlefield into a hellscape of oily smoke and fire that set the Allegheny aflame behind the Union Army. Many managed to escape over the bridge as the tide and initiative turned against them, Gordon leading his troops at the front as he did in the days at the head of his “Ever-Victorious Army” in China, until the bridge collapsed under artillery fire. Those remaining Union troops either surrendered, or braved the burning waters to perish for their country.


The British press forward to victory through the oil fields at the decisive Battle of Seneca

Though initially charged with the conquest and occupation of the country’s industrial regions, Gordon dispatched a force through Pennsylvania towards Washington, seeking an immediate end to the war and a stop to this bloodletting. Troops dispatched from the Siege of Richmond saved their own capital, but would doom the last ditch assaults of the capital, whose governance had already largely been evacuated further South. Petersburg would trade hands four more times in four more battles, before the rail link was restored to the now-starving defending force, which had been constantly fighting battles against endless Yankee brigades and near suicidal attacks by river from the hemmed-in US Navy for four months. Richmond, with much of Virginia, was devastated by the fighting, but with fresh supplies at last being hauled in by train the Siege of Richmond was at last broken.

Fighting continues, as the Union government has made no overtures for surrender or peace, but with their forces battered, defeated, or overextended and a good deal of their industrial capacity occupied or under threat, even die-hard supporters of the war begin to waver. Only the nature of their foreign occupation keeps up the resistance, which engages with British patrols on the daily in the finest traditions of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers among the Minutemen. Besides the insurgent war being waged behind the enemy lines, the War has effectively been decided, as supplies for those Union troops at the front grows thin where once they knew abundance, only fanaticism keeping the spirits of the armies alive. It is unclear if the Union government will attempt to fight on, but with the Northern central heartland and New England laid open to British advance, State Governors are already independently making overtures for peace. A final decision remains in the hands of the warring parties, but as of 1886, the American Civil War which began on the blood-washed streets of Washington D.C. three years ago, is effectively over. The Civil War was fought in 10,000 places, from Valverde, New Mexico, and Tullahoma, Tennessee, to St. Albans, Vermont, and Fernandina on the Florida coast. One million Americans would die in it, but for the millions still in arms, the road to peace has perhaps, finally, begun.



One of the things as host that I personally really enjoyed and wanted to emphasize as I played around and bent (or broke) history before the beginning of the game is the impact of certain conflicts in altogether different time periods. From the likes of the German Wars, which took on another level of ferocity and partisan conflict as well as the grand conventional maneuvers of armies and nations as German nationalism bubbled the pot over as the German Question continued to remain unanswered, these changes in history had significant impact on the course of the game. None perhaps were so significant as the shift in history in the former United States of America, however, which saw the defeat of Lincoln at the polls in 1860 and the emergence of an extremely contentious Second Great Compromise which would delay the splitting of the Union for another two decades. When it arrived, and once I began personally processing the war, it possessed a completely different character; a Civil War of the Gilded Age.

Having taken over the processing, as a host this became one of the most fascinating aspects of the game, as I watched the war take on new dimensions of ideology derived from the Gilded Age superimposed upon the ideals which drove the original Civil War, and eventually saw the two Americas, played by Shatari and Admiral Thrawn, diverge in two completely different directions of ideology and the fundamental understanding of the American way. The North and South originally split over questions of slavery and States’ rights, but as the conflict developed and grew, the nature of the conflict and why it was fought changed until nearly unrecognizable to those who shouted for war in the halls of Congress in that chilly late December of 1883. A once relatively clear-cut war, which nonetheless pitted brother against brother, father against son, now became more complex as questions long-rooted or new emerged, including over the rules of war and treatment of prisoners, the ethics of partisan warfare, the role of the government in economics and industry, the struggle against foreign powers or their role in independence, and the place of political parties in modern democracy. By the end, a captivating new narrative emerged in the American Civil War and the peace that, perhaps, may have been soon to follow, of two Americas battling over the fundamental questions of (economic) freedom or social equality at the heart of the American spirit: questions which would continue to plague American society, into the modern day.


For many, the role of jobs, free enterprise, and workers rights loomed as high as moral issues of slavery in the ideological basis for the American Civil War

With the Confederacy in a strong position, having weathered the Northern storm on Richmond (albeit with terrible losses) and especially having marshaled the support of the European empires to their cause, peace seemed within grasp, but I shall leave it in the hands of the players in the post-game to decide whether now was the time to make accord and reconcile their differences. Nonetheless, before the war even finished, new societies unrecognizable to those before it began had begun to emerge, both as radical in their changes as in their opposition. In the North, the Civil War thrown in the midst of the excesses as well as strong industrial development in the Gilded Age brought an early birth of the Progressive Age, and perhaps the beginnings of a more pure and wholehearted commitment by the Federal Government into the affairs of industry and economic equality than any government before or since. Nationalization of the titanic Bethlehem Steel Works proved only the beginning, and shifting to a new base of support for their war-time and domestic policies, the Congress of President Rye implemented a radically transformative act with the complete nationalization and control over the nation’s Financial Sector: an act that would have had tremendous reverberations throughout the world and the globe’s economic markets. In an age in history where the government would side with corporations and captains of industry to bloodily crack down on strikes and in all affairs adopted a laissez-faire attitude to internal economics and the well-being of the worker and farmer, this was an enormous and fundamental shift, including commitment to the rights to “Full and Remunerative” Employment for all citizens, perhaps possible only due to the stresses of the war and the hysteria of invasion brought by the intervention of the European powers.

In the South, meanwhile, Shatari had succeeded in bringing the Europeans into the war on their side; in force. But he and his chief agent through President Reagan faced the unenviable task of reconciling the distasteful institution of slavery in the Confederacy to the public abroad, while charting the foundations of his newly founded nation after the war. In this he took to a novel, and exceptionally polar-opposite, approach to that being adapted in the North, coincidentally building the domestic support for the Southern war effort despite the darkest of days at the front and disruptions at home. Starting early on with measures that further consolidated slaves into the more manageable hands, economic reforms through tax exemptions nonetheless began laying the groundwork for a policy to eventually phase out slavery through the development of highly autonomous “Company Towns” dispersing industry to the countryside and introducing cheap paid labor as substitution for more expensive capital investments in slaves. This highly libertarian approach was highly practical both to Southern economics and means of the government, and to the sensibilities of the plantation elite (as well as robber barons defecting from the North), that would have on the face of it transformed the Confederacy’s economy and society from a slave-owning plantation economy to a new, “freer” society under the thumb of captains of industry and plantation owners smoothly transitioning from the prior indentured caste-based system of labor. In all, it would create, in Shatari’s own words, a “libertarian ****-hole”, but it would give Confederacy’s society a means of (relatively) smoothly transitioning out of the internationally reprehensible institution of slavery which threatened their crucial links with Europe, and giving the means for the post-war reconstruction of the battle devastated South, so laying the foundations of a new and sustainable (if not without its problems) nation to be introduced upon the world stage.

Beyond the realm of the two main combatants in the East, across the Plains and towards the Pacific major events were transforming the face of the West, which in some cases was more civilized by the day, but in others more Wild than ever. California, long autonomous from Washington over disagreements from the Second Great Compromise was prospering from the conflict over the old centers of America in the East, and now exercised its rapidly growing industrial strength to display its now de-facto independence from either faction. Though removed from player control as a host executive decision halfway through, and perhaps not as strong as originally envisioned after the initial design process, the California Republic would nonetheless have a bright and significant future ahead of itself as poor and wealthy alike fled the bloodbath in the East seeking a more prosperous future in California. Industry was booming, and as the Republic rapidly established itself as a third center of economics and politics the equal to those on the Atlantic Coast, it would begin flexing its growing strength, beginning with an intervention into the cut-off and anarchic Southwest territories. Politically, its policies straddled the lines espoused in the East, finding a favorable balance between increasing economic development and the rights of workers, even pushing for voting rights for women, and began projecting itself as The Champion of the Progressive Age, holding aloft the torch of civilization dropped by their Eastern countrymen to return America to the light.


Nonetheless, their intervention into the Sonora Desert and Colorado Plateau brought them into a conflict of their own with another Western state with its own very different and very insular vision of American values: one built squarely, even totally, upon their unique faith of the Mormon doctrine. Deseret, centered in the (effectively former) state of Utah, had long been left to their own devices, and their marriage of strict religious tradition with American political principles resulted in the strengthening and absolute consolidation of a theo-democracy, as originally laid down by pioneering founder of Deseret Brigham Young. The intervention of the “profligates” from Sacramento, along with the inflaming of long held tensions with the Natives of the region, into affairs considered within their purview in the Southwest saw the two former-states break into open war, the miniature of the titanic conflicts in the East, but just as bloody. Initial fighting, characterized by multi-polar engagements of every kind between Californians, Mormons of the Nauvoo Legion, Union-loyal and independent Southwest townships, and Apache and Pueblo Indians spread across the arid American Southwest, but quickly shifted focus to a new front over the crucial Silver Mines of Nevada. Campaigns in the Sonora were marked by thirst and stringent supplies, and the former sleepy town of Las Vegas would become a logistical hub and battleground eventually won by California by the construction of a brand new railway, and with it the arrival of the heavy guns of their invincible “land battleship”, an ironclad armored train known as the “Queen Calafia”.
Soldiers in the battle fought tenaciously, but complained in letters home that patrolling in the Mojave made them wish for a volcanic winter.

While their Southwestern kin fought for independence and survival on their home territories, those on the high prairie of the Great Plains perhaps won the most remarkable victory of all. An amalgamation of dozens of tribes, some former enemies or collaborators with the US Army and all with long histories on the Plains, they had nonetheless under the magnetic leadership of legendary chiefs and wisemen managed to keep together and even expand to force the total withdrawal of the Union’s garrisons in the West. Although having scored a surprise victory against them in the prior year, the mixed force of US Cavalry, cowboys, buffalo hunters, and outlaws known as the “Rough Riders” led by a young statesman from New York called Theodore Roosevelt were eventually called back from Colorado on an even more audacious raid, nonetheless leaving the Great Plains to the Native Rising. With opposition to their forces gone, a century of repression, atrocities, massacres, and degradation of some of the most proud and magnificent horse peoples on the globe was at last over. Convening the Seven Council Fires and all the leadership of the Tribes of the Great Plains, including such legends as Sitting Bull, Crowfoot, Poundmaker, and Chief Joseph, alongside new heroes like Bloody Buffalo Woman and Scarlet Sky, the Indian Country was officially proclaimed with envoys sent to the world for recognition, and having at last attained their freedom and the first promising rebounding of the populations of the sacred buffalo, they announced an end in the affairs of the White Men to the East. Their war, fought over half a dozen generations and seeing the wholesale eradication of families and tribes, was over. Now they are free, forever.


Independent at last: the chiefs of the Indian Country a recognized sovereign state among the world's nations

The events on this continent and the consequences they would have upon the world cannot possibly be underestimated. Though some acts may remain to have been played out, the war was practically finished, barring disaster or miracle, and the United States of America was now divided, for better or for worse. New independent nations were born from the maelstrom to join the world: The Confederate States of America, the California Republic, the State of Deseret, and Indian Country are all now de facto or de jure entities, fresh faces created from a discontent Union. What comes for the identity of the banner holder of the old Republic in the North, as the former United States is referred to now, remains to be seen, but even as the potential for a reduction of fighting and armistice arises in the East, new flashpoints and festering questions remain in the West. The Southwestern territories are an anarchic battleground against practically all comers, with Mexico eying an opportunity to regain those long-lost territories stolen from them in the US’s landgrab in the Mexican-American War decades ago, while the states of the Pacific Northwest, long the victim of uncontested and indiscriminate commerce raiding and piracy by Confederate squadrons, are said to offer their allegiances to any country capable of offering them protection, including the British and Russian Empires.

Nonetheless, from the ashes, opportunity and hope sprout. A new vision is appearing for the future of the American nation; or nations, as it were, in bitter opposition but perhaps now free to pursue their own values in their countries of their own. The Confederacy has given their solemn promise to phase out slavery by peaceful means and protect the rights to property and free enterprise, and despite the devastation of war, the world’s sixth largest economy is well-placed to recover and prosper under the exceptional leadership of President Reagan. The Northern States, whose official name is yet to be decided in the case of settlement with the Southern rebels (though suggestions such as the Free Union have been floated), has gained sweeping powers over society and the economy during the course of the war, and although many were gained with the premise of their return to private hands after its end, they possess the unparalleled means to reshape society into a better world, unlike any President since George Washington himself. Lastly, in regards to the world, should peace be signed, it is liable that the uprising in Cuba will peter out, but the expansion of the war to international theaters heralds a new era in American policy, and it is likely that American influence under one banner or another will only continue to grow across the globe. Wartime buildup has given the Americans considerable new technologies the par or better than their European counterparts, and all three resultant nations of the Free Union of States, the Confederacy, and the California Republic now possess powerful navies steaming ahead with top of the line battleships with which to project their influence. While the CSN and FUSN ships contest the Atlantic, the California Republic is expected to become the main champion of the West in the Pacific, and an increasingly crucial counterweight to the expansionist Japanese Empire and the rising Polynesian Confederacy.


The Assassination of Union President Peers Rye in New York City

Peace, should it come, was not without cost, and not just on the battlefield. Homes have been burned, fields destroyed, entire states laid to waste from Virginia to Missouri, and the scars left by this American Civil War will take long to heal; if ever. Amid this maelstrom of battles, foreign interventions, and political upheaval, not even Presidents are safe. President Rye, the steady hand at the helm of the Union through the darkest days of the war, was en route to a performance in New York City when a young man in opposition to the draft and the war having lost six of his eight brothers in battle drew a gun on the president’s carriage and shot him three times in the chest. Despite the most fervent attempts to save Peers Smith Rye, he passed at 6:13am, December 31st, on the eve of hopefully the last year of this war. Succession changed hands duly to his Vice President, Daniel Warren, but his leadership in comparison to that monolith of the American war effort cannot be even set in the same theater. An emergency election has thus been called to replace the bitterly mourned leader, even among his detractors, despite the disruptions of war to find a worthy successor who will lead the nation out of conflict and into eventual peace. All in all, however, for the leaders of the country, North and South, East and West, and to the players who have fought tenaciously despite the odds and terrible losses, as we close the book on this chapter of the game and American history I offer the wise words of the front-running candidate for the Northern presidency, and a toast to the world you so brilliantly created;

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt


Across the Sea, in the hearth of Western Civilization, another war is being waged over nations and sovereignty. Where once the American Civil War was set to be the world’s largest, and bloodiest, conflict, Europe who once watched the bloodbath from afar with horror and disdain now sees itself riven in a confused conflict of nations which now has drawn in every empire of the Continent on one side or another. Only a mix of careful negotiation and sheer luck has averted the breakout of a general European war, keeping the two conflicts tentatively separate, but the reality remains that as of 1887, more than 5 Million men are at arms, dwarfing even the armies at the march in America.

The southern wing of the Wars in Europe comprises the Second German War between the Northern German Federation and France, Austria-Hungary, and the Southern German states in Prussia’s bid for German unification at long last. The war came early on this front, with the young Napoleon’s march to reconnect his lines of communications with his new father-and-law and eminent Emperor Franz Josef I. A swift march and even swifter victory at Lindau-Lindenberg, despite considerable casualties, won him the corridor and even further fame in the touch-and-go defense of the Austrian capital which would ultimately see the Northern Germans repelled. This springtime triumph would not be the end of the year’s hostilities, and as the Prussians repelled probing attack after attack across the Rhine towards the North, they prepared for a major offensive of their own.

The hammer would fall in late August upon an unprepared General Boulanger of the Armée du Rhin, victor of Villengen, who amidst political turbulence at home as the Imperial government both encouraged “moderate” socialists while cracking down on “dangerous” elements began using his military prestige for political ambitions at home, ignoring increasingly frantic warnings of German buildups. The attack, assiduously prepared for and planned by the initiative of the Northern Confederation’s top generals, was the Prussian battle of convergence par excellence, expanding an initially modestly planned attack to take Baden into a full tilt offensive with the goal of destroying the French army in Southern Germany.


The Prussian attack at the Battle of Heidelberg, the largest battle in history

Half a dozen armies would be thrown into the attack at the schwerpunkt of the French lines at the historic town of Heidelberg, whose goliath Renaissance era castle ruins loom over the streets from above, a relic of a long past French hegemonic intervention in the region whose history loomed large, and was far from forgotten. The Battle of Heidelberg would become the largest in World History: a million men were fed into the battle, as the balance of power shifted again and again as new armies were thrown into the fight. Although France could call on more troops overall, theirs became overextended with the victory at Lindenberg and took time to reach the fight through wartorn Baden-Württemberg, while Germany’s troops, hurried along the state-of-the-art railway system created by their massive infrastructural program, were fed into the fight with mechanical efficiency.

The fighting was nonetheless titanic in scale and ferocious in intensity, as the Prussian advance pushed the French back from the Ladenburg fields with massive artillery barrages, with the battle carrying over the River Neckar and into the town of Heidelberg. The town would trade hands several times, with the famous ruined castle itself playing a prominent role with its commanding heights over the town. The decisive maneuver came with the Northern armies’ seizure of the city of Mannheim in a steamrolling offensive and holding it off against the most determined attempts to retake it, in so doing taking the only bridge across the Rhine and cutting off both their retreat and hope for reinforcements from France. Elements of the celebrated Nouvelle Corps came late, while an old foe returned to the battlefield to finally seize Heidelberg which had become the lynchpin of the French defense: the III Inspektion Armee, under Crown Prince Friedrich, though battered and weary from defeats at Villengen and Lindenberg, at last achieved their revenge as their unexpected assault from the Southeast at last cracked the French fortress.


The Counterattack of the French New Corps

The French Army was now caught in the open between two converging German pincers from Mannheim and Heidelberg, and were now forced on the backfoot, though still fighting heroically. French technological advances had given the Germans a bloody nose so far, but now once more fighting on open fields and light copses of forest, the NGF’s overwhelming numerical advantage in artillery could be brought to bear with devastating force, possessing several times the guns than that of the entire French Army. Survivor’s likened it to a force of nature, and for the German commanders, they termed the barrage in Wagnerian terms: die Götterdämmerung. The commanders of the Nouvelle Corps, seeing the writing on the wall, began a prudent retreat, but for the Armée du Rhin and the vainglorious General Boulanger, shellshocked and stunned by the bombardment and outmaneuvered by converging wings of the North German Army, there could be no escape.

After several days of the most intense battle in the modern age, General Boulanger surrendered his force and bitterly handed over his sword to directing Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke and King Wilhelm I, who had arrived to be present for the battle and the subsequent victory. As the Armée du Rhin surrendered and marched into captivity, Boulanger, his career plummeting from its shining peak under the sun to its absolute nadir, promptly shot himself. But as the French nation scrambled to react as the Empire was thrown into crisis, as a hole had been torn in the French lines leaving a path open directly to Paris, the German armies were utterly exhausted and spent and were in no position to pursue the remnants of the Armée du Rhin that remained in Alsace-Lorraine and were unprepared to exploit the magnitude of their victory. Germany, meanwhile, had gone all in on its mobilization in force, raising a massive force, but it had reached the limits of the force it could raise, while France still had fresh reserves it could call on.


Prussia victorious after exceptionally bloody fighting at the crucial point at Mannheim

Well away from the banks of the Rhine, to the Empire on the Danube where gunfire and waltzes play, despite a massive invasion from the North intended to knock out the venerable Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire under the stalwart monolith of Emperor Franz-Josef I held out. Although suffering important reversals, giving up ground in Bohemia and ultimately suffering the surrender of its army at Prague, the halting of the Prussian lightning attack on Vienna intended to bring their participation in the war to a close ultimately saved the Empire to live another day. An Austrian counterattack even pushed the Northern Germans out of Austria entirely, and although the NGF’s offensive through Galicia met little resistance and large gains, bringing them in striking distance of the Hungarian half of the Empire, Austria-Hungary had weathered the storm which had been Germany’s main initiative this year.

Fighting was not reserved only for the armies of empires, either, but had become the province of almost every household as behemoth armies marched across their doorsteps. The long-delayed question of German unification had inflamed believers of the Pan-German cause, while the sudden invasion of the South had earned the resentment of Southern Germans content under their princes and local rulers. The intervention of France had raised its own spectres among a people who remembered well the invasions of Napoleon the Great, and the tradition of the Freikorps was reborn in a new generation in opposition as fresh recruits flocked to insurgent banners. Few were so fanatical as the resistance movement that grew in the realm of Bavaria, who held onto proud traditions and regional affiliations, and who for decades watched with horror at the anti-Catholic Kulturkampf of the Northern Confederation’s von Bismarck. When they rose at the bidding of their beloved, if eccentric, King Ludwig II for the liberation of their kingdom, the Bavarian Werwolf movement proved merciless to rear-echelon troops and supply columns alike, and their insurgent campaign proved so successful as to influence the ultimate failure of the NGC’s offensive to knock out the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Germany has succeeded on gains on every front, and have earned their commanders like Field Marshal von Moltke and Crown Prince Friedrich status as military legends, but the year did not prove as strategically decisive as central leadership hoped. Austria-Hungary held out, and while France had suffered a terrible reversal at Heidelberg, losing them their foothold in Southern Germany and all but completing the NGC’s initial war-aims to consolidate the Southern Germans into a projected Pan-German Empire, a tenuous link remained between the two co-belligerent empires aligned against Wilhelm’s dream of a united German nation. Furthermore, France still had considerable reserves and uncommitted armies to call upon, with new weapons, organizations, and technologies being introduced everyday. The war was not over, but domestic calls for peace in all nations have become increasingly insistent: once muted, the immense casualty lists being sent home have inflamed the public of civilized Europe, and many now call for a revival of the Peace Conferences of the prior year which had failed to prevent calamity, to now put an end to the bloodletting on Western Civilization’s own altar. Only time and the leadership of the combatant nations can tell whether the time for reason, and peace, has come at last over the great question that troubles our times: whether the German people can truly be united under one banner at last.


Far to the North, at every limits of the new Scandinavian Empire, another war was concurrently being waged to expand its borders to everywhere the Scandinavian people speak or once ruled. In the process, the Imperial government issued simultaneous declarations of war on both the Empire of Russia and the Northern German Confederation, both powerful empires in their own right, with the goal of liberating Finland and Schleswig-Holstein from foreign rule. Even with Germany committed to offensives elsewhere, their alliance with Russia would protect them from invasion, while Russia itself could count on its massive standing army and near limitless reserves of manpower. Nonetheless, even with all the odds stacked against them, the constituent nations of the Scandinavian Empire pulled off some of the most fantastic upset military victories in recent reckoning. The spirit of the Lion of the North had awoken again.

War came first at sea. Following the declaration of war, a Danish naval taskforce, joined secretly by a British armored squadron, made for the Northern German’s main naval base at Wilhelmshaven in an early first strike. Catching the German navy unawares, the excellently planned Wilhelmshaven Raid was likened to a turkey shoot, as despite the relative mismatch in numbers, the Danes inflicted heavy damage on the surprised German ships at harbor, before making good on their escape without significant damage to their own fleet. Naval superiority was thus secured throughout most of the Baltic Sea, enabling the next great masterstroke by the Scandinavian Empire, on an altogether farther shore.


Scandinavian charge at the Decisive Battle of Mynämäki, the second largest battle in history and without a doubt the furthest North

Finland had long been an inseparable appendage of the Swedish Empire to elder days, until the time of Napoleon the Great when Russia’s sudden invasion stripped Sweden of her Eastern half. Agitation and resentment had existed in the heart of Swedes for all the long years since in longing for the restoration of Finland to her kin, and despite the long odds, Scandinavia determined to take the gamble and throw the dice. Using an assiduously planned route of advance, with exceeding care to supplies and infrastructure on the long march from the Swedish Arctic to the low-lying post-glacial land of lakes and trees of the Finnish South, the Scandinavian Army stole a march on the more cumbersome Russian Army. First engaging the Russians at Vaasa, they gained many much-needed volunteers from turncoats from the Russian Army of Finland, before moving to engage the main Russian force at a small town called Mynämäki.

Briefly the largest battle in Western history before the engagement at Heidelberg, the Battle of Mynämäki was as decisive as it was massive. Although commanded by the new darling general of the Russian Empire, General Ostrakov, his counterpart in the Imperial Scandinavian Army outfoxed him, using a large cohort of Norwegian ski troops to maneuver in force to the flank and overwhelm the Russian troops struggling through the snow and meager roads of the Finnish countryside. Although fighting heroically, and almost being captured himself, the main Army of Russia was defeated with heavy casualties and many captured, with many more perishing in the long retreat while pursued by the Swedes in a particularly harsh winter. Refuge was found in the environs of St. Petersburg at last, but the Finnish capital of Helsingfors, and most of the territory itself, was lost to the Scandinavians, who wasted no time in arranging a provisional government for the new territory.


Russian aid station after Mynämäki: defeat came at a terrible cost to the Russian Army, despite the best efforts of General Ostrakov for victory

A panic ensued over imminent invasion by the Swedes on the Russian capital, but no further advance was forthcoming. Ostrakov began immediately to reorganize the decimated force into a battle-ready formation once more, but while the survivors from Finland regrouped, another army of the Russian Empire was on the march to avenge their sister army’s defeat. The Russian Army of Poland marched to cover the deeply engaged Germany’s border with Denmark from invasion, but found at arrival the Danes had made no movements to attack, the thinly defended front quiet. Nonetheless, charged with prosecuting an invasion into Denmark should the Swedes attack Finland, the Army of Poland pressed forward on the offensive.

Initially swiftly gaining ground with hardly any opposition, the Russian advance appeared inexorable until reaching the Danish defensive lines at approximately the midpoint of the Jutland peninsula, where they ran into perhaps the most brilliantly arranged and defended military in the world. The Danish military, using a number of far-sighted organizational and technological innovations along with lessons learned from far-reaching military observation missions ranging from the Veldt of the Boer Republics to the warfront of the American Civil War had adapted a series of reforms and institutions that had transformed the formerly diminutive, if war-experienced, army into the single most disciplined and war-ready force not just in Europe, but to be known across the world. Epithets such as Prussia of the North are more than deserved, and when the Russian Army met them, the offensive crashed like waves upon rock. Well-prepared after a year of mobilization in advance, and having developed extremely elaborate and well-planned defenses in depth, although outnumbered three to one the Danes managed to beat back the strong Russian advance at the Battle of Vejle in one of the most lopsided victories in modern history. Subsequent battles saw Russian commanders simply beat their heads against the wall of the Danish defenses, which despite the gentle terrain of the Jutland peninsula proved capable of absorbing even the most determined assaults, simply shifting and linking up existing defenses whenever the Russians gained ground.


The elite Danish Army holds the line against the impossible, fending off a Russian attack three times their size on the Jutland Peninsula

By 1887, Scandinavia had seemingly pulled off the impossible: although Schleswig-Holstein remained beyond reach, all of Finland had been seized within their grasp, and despite the best efforts of the Russian Empire the Empire remained, for the moment, strong and secure. The war is not over, however, and with Russia rejecting overtures for peace, the Russian bear is about to awaken, as the Empire set to mobilize its full strength to reclaim the stolen territories and tarnished honor. Presumptions of a replay of Crimea are bound to be sorely mistaken, and the next move will see Russia readying with all its strength for redemption and revenge. Scandinavia has won a miracle in 1886, but whether it will be capable of withstanding the avalanche to come, is anyone’s guess.



Far away from the battlefields of Europe and the Western Hemisphere, despite disruptions and blockades, another war advanced, in the march of civilization amid the great game of colonization. Although the West was in the process of mobilizing millions in conflicts against itself, Western technology and the resources of their empires ensured that the relentless advance of their borders continued against the savages of the world, from Africa to the Pacific. And yet, even as fresh expeditions descended into the unknown, against all expectations the “uncivilized” world struck back its fiercest blows against colonization to date; in the eyes of some, striking out against the light, in others, fighting off the encroaching dark of the European Empires.

No empire would win out so big as Italy this year: although a relative newcomer to the club of colonial empires, nonetheless to the host of nations, Italy has finally managed to negotiate out of the tense relations which had isolated it, and gambled its bargaining chip at Zanzibar to win a fortune. Having seized the African territory after being freezed out of the Berlin Conference by Britain, the Zanzibar Crisis has at last been resolved by negotiation between plenipotentiaries of the Kingdom of Italy and the Ottoman Empire, with participation from Britain and France. In return for the ceding and recognition of Zanzibar as an Ottoman colony, with due rights of autonomy given to the resident Sultan of that territory, Italy won rights for colonization to vast territories across the world, including Morocco (previously claimed by the now defunct Spanish Empire), Gabon, and East Papua in Oceania, as well as a resumption of rights of passage through the Suez Canal, which were crucial for Italy’s substantial merchant marine. On top of this, Italy received a large monetary compensation for its financial investments in Zanzibar, translating on the whole to a major Italian diplomatic success and making the country one of the top colonial powers in the world, although the process of claiming and consolidating these large new territories is only just underway.


The Italians land triumphantly in Morocco, having traded in their chip at Zanzibar for far great gains across a now global empire

France, meanwhile, would continue to crush the opposition to its colonial projects with consummate success despite the setbacks of previous years, and even accomplish a daring expansion of its empire in Asia. In Africa on the West African front, the warlord Samori Toure’s initial successes which brought him to the very gates of the colonial capital of Grand Bassam were turned back in the nick of time by the arrival of a powerful relief expedition composed of one of the young Napoleon’s newfangled New Corps. Although suffering significant casualties due to climate and disease, new logistical and medical efforts softened the blow, while their numbers and technological advantage kept the Mandinka Empire reeling constantly on the backfoot as their conquests in Côte d'Ivoire were rolled back in relatively short order. By year’s end, the once conquering warlord was thrown entirely out of the colony, and the French imperial columns advancing into his own home territory in pursuit.

In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, France could claim a new feather in her cap as a top-secret French operation, composed of a small team of experienced explorers and soldiers made their way up the mist-covered headwaters of the Mekong into the mysterious Kingdom of Laos. The former Siamese tributary was plagued by a former adversary of the French in Vietnam, the Black Flag Army, a rogue Chinese army of bandits who now pillaged the kingdom with abandon, threatened the imminent capture of the king of Laos in his embattled capital in Savannakhet. Eager to save his country and throne from the pillaging of the Chinese, he sent a plea for help to the French, in return for the suzerainty of his kingdom. With necessary preparations into the mountain kingdom projected to arrive too late to save the king, the French sent a small force instead in an adventure upriver with the help of native guides, and fought or evaded their way through the Black Flag forces in the Laotian jungle to successfully pluck the elderly King Oun Kham I from their grasp. Having secured the symbolic key to the kingdom, the Armee d’Indochine moved in in force, and having at last cornered the Black Flags with no route for escape, utterly destroyed the bandit army and captured their leader, the infamous Liu Yongfu.


Scenes from the pacified and expanded French Indochina, her new crown jewel

Belgium, freed from the plague of Communista commerce raiders on the high seas, was given a free hand to complete its claims in the Congo, and even expanded into Zambia in lieu of Portuguese colonial lethargy as the Iberian Peninsula becomes a battleground. Other aspiring colonial powers had less luck, however. For the British, the last year had been a triumphant march through Nigeria, subduing ancient kingdoms one after another, while annexing the oddity of Bavarian Kamerun by the stroke of the pen. Their advance was only stymied by the venerable Walls of Benin, earthworks constructed over centuries and reinforced prior to the siege of the capital of Benin City, the center of one of the most powerful and ancient kingdoms of this land. Progress nonetheless seemed set to continue once the fortifications were broken, and the delay seemed certain to end soon as new brigades of askaris were raised to bolster the siege force.

A ticking time table, and the onset of the rains in the swampy Nigerian delta region, marked the first major frustrations, compounded by the virulent outbreak of disease in the encamped siege camps. Two months finally saw a practicable breach in the walls, but by the time the British were prepared for their assault, the Oba of Benin was ready. Over the past year, the ruler of the Kingdom of Benin had made outreaches to the nations of Europe for arms; and the Italians responded. Sending thousands of modern breech-loading rifles purchased by the Oba, the weapons were smuggled into the city garrison, and when the British assault came, they were met by vicious waves of rifle fire at the breach that decimated the attacking force. The attack nonetheless kept coming, continuing into the streets until at last stymied amidst the walled residential cantons of the city and gradually isolated into small fighting squares. Some managed to fight their way out again, but many were forced to surrender or butchered to the man. The commanding British officer was forced to withdraw and break off the siege force in a hurry, while the London press has decried it as the worst colonial defeat since Isandlwana, and a certain setback for their colonial ambitions in Nigeria.


British riverboats engaging with Benin defenses around the Niger River, ultimately failing to crack the defenses at Benin City

British losses at the Siege of Benin City paled when compared to the defeat suffered by another imperial power on the other side of the Continent. Ever since the charitable return of Egypt by the British government to Turkish hands, the Ottoman Empire had enjoyed unbroken success and bloodless expansion over the three years, establishing a vast dominion over Egypt and Arabia and securing Persia as a protectorate of the High Porte. Sultan Abdul Hamid II could claim another jewel in his turban this year with the acquisition of Zanzibar from the Italians at long last, but for his ambitions in Eritrea and Abyssinia, it proved one colony too far, and risked bringing his country tumbling into direct conflict with what was once its most selfless protector. With the previous Emperor of Abyssinia dead, killed by the Mahdi at the Battle of Metemma before the Sudanese messiah’s own demise, Abyssinia was in flux as princes maneuvered to claim the crown as the next emperor. Receiving an appeal from the Emir of Harar, the chief of the increasingly marginal Islamic community in Ethiopia, the Sultan responded, summoning a huge army from across his Empire with the intent of aiding the Emir’s bid for Abyssinia, and in the process receive Eritrea as a colony of the Ottoman Empire for his assistance.

Difficulties raising and transporting this force became immediately apparent, while upon arrival many of the Circassians recruited for the expedition from the Caucasus suffered in the equatorial climate of Eritrea. Brigades arrived slowly and in piecemeal, and well before the full force could arrive in Abyssinia, word arrived that forces under the Negus of Shewa, the eminent Menelik II, had united most of the Orthodox Christian princes of the realm under his candidacy for Emperor and had roundly routed the Emir’s forces, before sacking Harar itself. Nonetheless, the Army’s leadership decided to press forward regardless, using the forces on hand to attempt to reclaim Harar as a base for operations to reverse Menelik’s candidacy for Emperor. Unfortunate events moved against them, however, as the British coincidentally had been in contact with Menelik II, supporting him and had approved the construction of a railway from British Sudan to his lands in Abyssinia, inaugurating the construction of the new city of Addis Ababa in the process on top of previous military aid sent in rifles and small arms. Accompanying and overseeing the construction of this railway, which is part of London’s ambitions for a railway from Cairo to Mombasa, was a detachment of the Royal Horse Guards: their adventures in Abyssinia, and eventual presence in the battle to come, would prove a major crisis of relations between Britain and the invading Ottoman Empire.


Emperor Menelik II, newly crowned ruler of all Abyssinia, leads his people to victory over the invaders at the Battle of Adwa; with British help

Marching out from their base in Eritrea, which was already struggling to cope with the weight of the burgeoning Ottoman force, the Ottoman Army made for the formerly friendly Emirate of Harar to attempt to recapture the city. Menelik II was able to move his forces faster, however, using the newly built British railroad, and brought all the remaining forces of Ethiopia to bear in defense from the Muslim invasion. The two forces met near the railhead in Tigray, in a valley called Adwa. Though outnumbered, the Ottomans elected to pursue the attack, trusting in their European training and advisors and their recent technological advances. British-made arms, and the presence of British troops tasked with defending the railroad, as well as the Abyssinians’ numbers and favorable terrain gave them the advantage, which were used to devastating effect by the brilliant leadership of Emperor Menelik II and his general Ras Alula of Eritrea. The world’s press described it as the most decisive native victory in a century, and the most crushing colonial defeat on record: the Ottoman defeat was total, with three quarters of the column of 28,000 perished, wounded, or captured. The remnants reeled back to Eritrea, where they were joined by the steady trickle of new troops from Asia and Europe, providing enough to dissuade an open attack on this thin strip of colonized coast, but the Ottoman ambitions in Eritrea, nonetheless Abyssinia, appear untenable, particularly in light of the engagement with British forces which has infuriated British Parliament on top of the invasion of their steadfast ally from the Mahdist war.



Last stand of the Comunistas at Madrid

Back in Europe and the West, a scourge that arose from below, unnoticed or ignored, from the cracks of industrial exploitation to throw off the chains of monarchs and the bourgeoisie, has at last seen the wrath of the powers that be. The execution of good King Alfonso XII of Spain, and the spread of the tendrils of the Second International from Madrid to threaten the lives and security of monarchs elsewhere across the continent has at last provoked reaction of Europe’s empires, and when they acted, although too late to save Alfonso, they acted in force. A Grand Cordon, a naval blockade intended to quarantine the infection that had taken root in Spain, was one of the few successes from the Peace Conference at Paris-Évry, and the commitment proved initially overwhelmingly effective. Large numbers of patrol vessels quickly cleared the seas of the Comunista commerce raiders that had been plaguing Belgium’s commerce lanes to its colonies, and preparations were put underway to transport the stranded Spanish Royalist Army of Africa, presently cut off by the Straits of Gibraltar in Morocco, to quell the revolution in their home country.

The flawless success, which was quickly toasted to the relief of monarchs across Europe, became tarnished by a series of mysterious disappearances of patrol vessels off the Spanish coast, despite favorable weather and adequate maintenance. More than a dozen would be lost until the culprit was at last revealed, a secret weapon stolen from the labs of the British Empire’s most classified naval design labs. Using the latest designs forwarded from a Spanish scientist who was heading Britain’s secret project, the Madrid Commune unleashed a wolfpack of torpedo vessels capable of propulsion underwater onto the Atlantic Seaboard. They called them “submarines”, and although the vessels were still relatively crude, for three months at the height of the European Summer they were the terror of the Grand Cordon fleets and the merchant vessels of the bourgeoisie.


The bane of the European Grand Cordon: the submarine menace of the Second International

It would take the loss of one of the precious armored vessels, and an exceptional display of discipline and coordination between navies, to develop countermeasures to this threat, but once countermeasures were put in place the underwater threat was gradually culled back. Rather than engaging in single-boat patrols, or static blockades off Spain’s major ports which left Cordon vessels as sitting ducks for the submarines, lead by the Royal Navy the Grand Cordon implemented regular patrols in force, while keeping a constant sharp watch for submarines, which despite their cutting-edge anaerobic engines still left telltale signs of their attack approach. Eventually, one by one, the submarine threat was neutralized, with the lighter-caliber rotary cannons of the French ironclad Dévastation distinguishing itself as brutally effective, and by autumn the seas were once again the province of monarchs.

On land, developments within Spain became much more complicated. The Madrid Commune was from the beginning an uneasy alliance of various Communist, Socialist, Anarchist, and Cantonalists picking up the banner from the fallen revolution of 1873 for autonomy for Spain’s many proudly independent regional cultures. Thus far, despite disagreements, the Commune nonetheless held together, buoyed by its successes domestically and against the enemies of their many agendas abroad. Developments among the governments of France and the United States would erode the hardline against all things socialist, however, but the death knell was rung with the landing of the Spanish Royalists at Cadiz from Africa. The Spanish Navy’s loyalties to the Revolution were strong, and the prosecution of their valiant campaign against difficult odds across the world were admirable, but the Spanish Army’s loyalties were far more divisive, and the Workers’ Guard which was formed from the initial revolutionary uprisings were a motley arrangement weakened by internal disputes and poor armament.


The last fury of the Revolution before the fall

The Army of Africa meanwhile possessed high morale and elan, and freshly equipped with supplies from various European powers, were more than a match for the forces sent against them from Madrid. The Royalists cut through the initial Comunista counterattacks like butter, and marched swiftly through the Andalusian countryside towards the capital and the heart of the international revolution. With the Commune thrown into a panic, all semblance of common ground eroded away, and broke into bitter infighting among the various factions of the Revolution. The Cantonalists, representing the major industrial as well as cultural centers of Catalonia and Basque Country, eventually broke from the Revolution in return for generous terms from the Royalist, leaving them de-facto (and subsequently later on, proclaimed de-jure) independence.

The remaining hardcore Communists and Anarchists nonetheless fought tenaciously for the capital in a month long battle for Madrid, but eventually their internal divisions got the better of them, and the Army of Africa was able to crack the weaknesses in their defenses and cause the ultimate collapse of the  Commune. The infrastructure of the Second International, the foreign arm of the Revolution, had decamped from Madrid weeks before to destinations unknown, but as the hearth of Communist revolution fell in Spain, their prospects of a global worker’s revolution dimmed significantly. For a brief moment, it seemed a new world was in their grasp, but as the Madrid Commune was quarantined by the actions of the international Grand Cordon and undermined from within, that dream had faded. The proclaimed end of the Madrid Commune, and the installment of one of Alfonso’s young daughters, María de las Mercedes, Princess of Asturias, as Queen of Spain under regency saw the end of the ideological radicalism which had overtaken the country, but the authority of the Regency was weak and the political stage in Spain was yet unsettled. Abrogations of their agreements with the Cantonalists saw the Catalans and Basque break with the central government, effectively ruled by military leaders from the Army of Africa, and proclaim their independence. With the Navy effectively destroyed and the military as a whole weakened, Madrid’s ability to contest their independence has tied their hands behind their backs, and thus, in the interest of not plunging Iberia into yet further conflict which has plagued it throughout the 19th Century, the Regency has begrudgingly acquiesced, seeing as a result the emergence of Catalonia and the Basque Republic as independent nations on the European stage.


Agitation against the Captains of Industry: who often straddled the lines of loyalty between North and South, became commonplace as the Union government turned towards a more Progressive socio-economic policy during the war

Meanwhile, although faithfuls in the Communist cause despair at the failure of the revolutions from below, the Spanish Communist Revolution had awoken leaders throughout the West to the dangers of socialist revolution, and while many adopted hardline measures of repression and condemnation, Socialism saw an unlikely advance by champions from above. While in the same hand cracking down on perceived dangerous radicals among the socialist movements, in France, the Bonapartiste government under the young Napoleon has shown a remarkable overture to perceived moderates among the socialist cause. This has rankled conservatives and members of the military, many of whom cut their teeth as officers in the crackdown of the Revolution of 1870, and while only a mild success on the government’s part in courting socialists to the side of the powers that be due the arbitrary nature of their crackdown, it nonetheless marks a new page in French politics. The Imperial government has initiated détente with socialists, so long as it is on the grounds of the gradualist methods of the British Fabian Society (now being repressed in Britain, sending members fleeing to the lights of Paris). More disquieting on the part of the country’s financiers and industrial magnates were the implementation of new “exit taxes” for those departing the country with their assets, and the growth of state intervention in industry under the pretense of wartime necessities.

Nowhere was state championship of the workers and common people so proactive, even radical, than in America in the Union of the North. Spearheaded initially by socialist, anarchists, and unaffiliated workers rights groups in the ideological center in the Great Lakes industrial region, their burgeoning support for the government and its war effort as a result of the nationalization of the Bethlehem Steel Works was rewarded with sweeping new measures to centrally manage the economy at war. Central control of the country’s financial markets had been floated in top-secret communiques in the French government, but in the American Northern states, they would be put into place effective immediately over all financial instruments possessing more than five branches in the country. The heralded transition to “Progressive” economics, with a stated goal to achieve the Full Employment of all workers and the maintenance of both their rights and the smooth workings of the war effort, was transformative on a radical level. Previous acts by the government into the economy had rankled the Northern captains of industry, sparking a handful of contentious defections, but by now the war had dominated all sectors of life in the North, and international forces converged to unknowingly aid in this transformation. The implementation of the Royal Navy blockade on the North, in contravention of the attempted Yankee blockade on the South, came at just the right moment, leaving economic magnates with nowhere to run, enabling the nationalization of their financial assets nearly in toto, allowing the Northern government to control prices for everyday necessities as well as strategic resources on an unprecedented level. Although statements were made to return control to private hands after the war, for the first time anywhere, central control of the economy was now a reality, and the terms for its return were in the government’s hands: should they decide to return at all.


Cemented during the course of the past century, in a process that began with Columbus’s first voyage into the unknown, civilization and the making of history fell into the hands of Europe as it forged itself into the uncontested center of the world. First through colonization of the Western hemisphere, then control of commerce, then the unfolding of its imperial wings across the globe on the currents of industry and technological might, the course of history has been decided from the capitals of the western continent. Colonial wars, company rule, and opium conflicts have eroded away all opposition, and at the height of the 19th century, the Western World appeared uncontested across the globe as masters of the Earth.

After half a century of humiliations and catastrophic internal conflicts in the Far East, that worldview seemed validated, but the engagement at Shanghai last year marked the beginning of a new era, one that is now fully underway. The Dragon is Awakening, and led by forces at the helm under Emperor Meiji of Japan, the East is rising to boldly challenge the West as a rival center of civilization. Having forced the withdrawal of European fleets at Shanghai the previous year, leaders of the Far East convened at Tokyo to discuss their next move. Observing from afar the wars which were tearing apart the West, the leadership of the Empire of Japan coolly noted the withdrawal of naval assets from the East, and came to the realization that this was their chance. Imperial Japanese leaders may detest the domination of the West, even as they learned from them, but they were confident that the key pieces in the game of global dominance were colonies, and while the Occident was distracted, Japan, and more unwillingly its somewhat-junior partner the Qing Dynasty, made its first move in the colonial game.


The new battleship Matsushima leads the way for the Imperial Japanese Navy

Its target: the Philippines. The furthest flung and now final colony of the collapsing Spanish Empire, victim to the revolutionary disruptions at its center, the islands which had thus far endured the confusion at home peacefully now saw the gradual rise of discontent native Filipinos with dreams of independence. Colonial administrators meanwhile wished to see the continuation of their empire, as the situation slowly returned to order in the Spanish metropole with the restoration of Royalist control. The hopes of both would be squandered, presaged by a devastating earthquake which shook the island of Mindanao early in the year, to be followed as ships were sighted on the early morning of September 3rd, approaching from the light of the rising sun. The Imperial Japanese Navy was steaming for the Philippines in a two pronged attack, their columns led by the newly built battleships Matsushima and Itsukushima, made for the islands of Luzon and the Visayas, ostensibly on missions of relief, but in reality with the intent of deposing the Spanish colonial administration, and replacing it with an administration of their own as a colony of the Japanese Empire.

What remnants of the Spanish Navy that remained in the East were no match for the Japanese, and surrendered promptly without a fight. Meanwhile, a Qing naval taskforce bearing transport ships made for the southern island of Mindanao, which was delegated as their sphere of influence during the Tokyo Conference in return for their roped-along assistance in this landmark colonial adventure. Though derided as an bold-faced landgrab in the West, begun without a declaration of war, the Occident, being tied down in a half dozen armed commitments, was powerless to contest the seizure, and Japanese media declared it an unprecedented triumph for the East. Control was quickly established over most the coastal ports and colonial centers, and in contrast to the Belgian capture of Cuba, went largely uncontested by the Spanish forces, who laid down their arms and were quickly detained and replaced by Japanese or Chinese garrisons.


Chinese forces battle Filipino insurgents in the Mindinao interior

The control and occupation of the inland interior proved altogether more frustrating, and for the first time the Japanese experienced the trials endured by many European empires in their colonies as well as their fruits. Though most of the cities by the coast were in their control, Manila and the interior countryside were a hotbed for Filipino unrest, and as it became clear that contrary to proclamations of friendship and independence for the Philippines, the Japanese and Chinese were here to stay, and they had simply traded one colonial master for another. So the Filipinos took to the jungle, armed with bolo knives and whatever firearms they could find to resist. Japanese newspapers continued to proclaim the success of the venture and the gratitude felt by the local peoples, but the reality on the ground proved more resentful and costly, particularly for the heavily embattled Chinese garrisons on Mindinao suffering from constant ambushes, disease, and lack of supplies. Nonetheless, despite a constant drain on reinforcements for losses in the Philippine garrisons, East Asia enjoys a near limitless supply of manpower, and even while native uprisings plague their first colonial venture, the implications of this unprecedented entry of the Oriental empires in the colonial game are reverberating across the globe. For the first time, the West has a challenger and rival player in her bid for the colonization of the world.

Not all in the East have come out in support of this venture, however, as Chinese mandarins protest the distraction from their internal development and defense, enabling the rise of dissident groups while pointing to evidence of decreased Japanese investment in favor of their new colony in the Philippines, seeing markedly less growth compared to the industrial boom of the prior year. The entry into the West’s same colonial game, meanwhile, rather than its outright opposition for the freedom of all non-Western peoples, brought the break of the Polynesian Confederation from this pact after being invited to Tokyo by the Chinese plenipotentiaries. The Royal Polynesian Confederation, headed by Hawaii and Kalākaua the Voyager King, saw itself as a champion for the independence of not just the peoples of the Pacific but colonized peoples everywhere, and vehemently condemned the decisions of the Tokyo Conference before departing, breaking off its formerly cordial relations with Japan. The year would in turn see the Confederation grow significantly, adding the islands of Micronesia, Rapa Nui, and the Cook Islands peacefully to its fellowship for protection from the avarous eyes of colonizing empires, all the more important as Japan and by extension revealed itself a player in Europe’s game. With Japan’s sun rising on one side of the great ocean, and the California Republic casting off allegiances to Washington to become an independent and powerful player on the other, the Pacific has the strategic center of an emerging contest between the two rising empires, the Pacific powers of East and West. The Hawaiian Polynesian Confederation now finds itself dead-center of this competition, placing it in peril of invasion or colonization, but if it can leverage the influence of one power against another it may be able to complete its sacred calling to unite the Polynesian Islands, and emerge as a third power in its own right on the Pacific Ocean.


Watch this space.
Well, that was a wild ride. Thank you to Pixel and Evvv for carrying the Confederates through the final chapter of the war. I'm genuinely surprised it ended so well for the South, and I'm very happy to see that my libertarian ****hole would have been viable. Also a huge thanks to Thrawn for keeping me on my toes. It was frustrating to be forced into a fight against a Goliath, but hopefully you had fun fighting a very determined David.

I do wish that we had been able to try a peaceful resolution to our differences (though I fully understand that you signed up as the Union in a Civil War themed game to, you know, fight the Civil War). I had a lot of plans for a peaceful split and possible reuniting with the North, focusing heavy on building up the South's non-existent industry using company towns and infrastructure upgrades.

As for the war itself, most of the victory would belong to the French and the British. The only real things the South would have been determined to see through would be a permanent split of the East and West, a reunification of Virginia, we would have kept the entire run of the Mississippi, and we would have put in a buffer nation between our nation and the Free Union. And ideally we would have seen the industry that the Union had seized returned to its rightful owners, but that's honestly their own people's fault for allowing in the first place.

After that, we would have become very isolationist, building up our infrastructure, and focusing on trade (and paying down all the loans I took out; thanks, Beny!). I planned to have a Expeditionary Force to serve overseas in the interests of the British and the French. This would have provided us with a way to keep an experienced army that could further expand on our theories of trench warfare (and eventually aerial bombardment via balloons) without having to be involved in any wars directly. There were also a few story hooks that I wanted to explore, but didn't have a budget for because I literally went up to the brink of bankruptcy on the first turn.

As for the mistreatment of the prisoners, most of that was a matter of people not obeying orders, though we did do the finger snipping. I was getting a bit desperate since the British didn't seem interested in a land war, the French weren't involved, and my Congress was extremely hostile towards me for the first few turns. I had to cut some corners, so that meant reducing the damage escaped prisoners could do.

I also found it interesting that Thrawn was encouraging the Maroons. It actually worked against my attempts to cut down on slave abuse or phase out slavery, because it painted them as savages in the eyes of the people. It was a very interesting silent war going on behind my lines, and sadly was going to end very badly for the Maroons as we were forced to stop trying to talk them down and switch to outright military force. I think even if I had lost, the resentment and hatred it was creating would have made the South a no-mans land for freed blacks for generations to come.

Edit: Also, big shout out to Hawaii for letting me base a raider fleet there. I swear, that small handful of ancient outdated boats did more good than either of my other fleets combined. :razz:
Although it's a shame it's on hold ending, as my first BoP it's been an enjoyable experience :grin: I did learn alot when researching for the orders, which was nice. Also, you lot have a lust for war.

Well, in those early years I had originally hoped for a neutral Denmark. Lots of civil engineering projects such as a national highway and railway line, national telegraph/telephone network, metrication, dredging and land reclamation, ports and harbours; and housing estates with parks, allotments, asphalt roads, and electric streetlights. Lots of Polar exploration as well.

But nooo :evil:, I had to drop those and expand the military, unintentionally ending up with a supposed 'Prussia of the North'. It did surprise me how easy it is for an Army of the 1880s to jump thirty or forty years in tactics and armament, even with the technology of the time.
Angelsachsen said:
Also, you lot have a lust for war.
I stayed completely neutral through it all. Only built schools, revived th old Polynesian culture and explored

(No "white ghettos" ever existed! It was a propaganda lie by the Japanese.)
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