Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Monday, September 19, 2022

Fragments from the Americas III

Puget Sound, Washington State, United States of America, Jan 1889.

Admiral Samuel Perry "Powhatan" Carter, sat at his desk in his day cabin aboard the gunboat turned Admiralty yacht and fleet dispatch vessel, the USS Monocacy, a ship he had formerly commanded as a much younger naval officer. At present Carter used it as his administrative headquarters for the Union Pacific Fleet. His newly arrive battleship flagship was in dockyard hands, refitting it's flagship, staffing and communications facilities. It's installations while previously adequate for divisional and squadron commands it had formerly held, were he had found somewhat inadequate for managing and directing a gathering fleet of well over a hundred warships and auxiliaries, with even more on the way. The Naval Dockyard, however had the matter well in hand and he and his staff could resume use of the fleet flagship in another two weeks.

Carter was working his way through a desk covered in routine correspondence, he had just finished the most important letter on the table, a long letter from his wife of twelve years, Martha. Her picture was always the most prominent object on his desk. They had married in 1877, and Carter felt it was one of the best decisions he had ever undertaken, in both the personal and professional senses. Martha was a descendant of Martha Custis Washington. It certainly had not hurt his career progress or his personal (which was rather more important to him in many ways) and social life. Political connections were of course of some importance in a military, where all promotions to flag rank were governed by connections in the right circles and especially in the United States Senate and being an officer of well established professionalism and impeccable loyalty to the Union. Through his service on land and sea, as well as he connections to the Washington family and his own Carter relations, and being a member of several elite military and civil fraternities, had allowed him a steady if not spectacular rise in the ranks.

A Tennessean by birth, Carter had joined the navy directly as a midshipman in 1840, with active service on the Great Lakes and the Pacific later graduating from the US Naval Academy in 1846 and seeing service in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. His following service had been varied staff and scientific duties at the United States Naval Observatory for several years followed by an appointment as an assistant professor of mathematics at the Naval Academy 1850-53. Carter had then served with competence with the Pacific and Brazilian squadrons of the Union Navy., unit he had been reappointed to a staff position with the Naval Academy.

His civil war service had been both distinctly unusual and distinguished by important staff work, intelligence and spy and raiding duties as well as combat assignments at various levels up to and including brigade and divisional command with the Union armies in the Western Theater of the Civil War. Very briefly he had even exercised corps level commands until he had been mustered out of the Union Army in 1866 to resume his interrupted naval career. Carter had resumed assignment to the Union Pacific Squadron, with steady promotions and a progression of ship duties, commands and eventually assignment to the post of commandant of cadets at the Naval Academy, followed by another bout of sea and diplomatic duties with the Navy's European Squadron. In 1877 he had been appointed to the United States Lighthouse Board in light of his previous scientific and active sea service. He had seriously considered retiring in 1881 and 1882, as he had only then just reached the substantive rank of rear-admiral. The out break of the Second American Civil War in 1885, had revived his career prospects and resulted in his rapid promotion to vice-admiral and admiral, although he personally would have preferred that not be the case, considering the political and military disaster that had unfolded for his country for the second time this century. Swiftly resuming a mix of army and naval duties he had played a critical role in keeping Washington State in the Union and protecting the vital naval base in Puget Sound and assisting Admiral David Dixon Porter is taking the fight to the rebels of the Independent States of America.

Unfortunately, both he and Admiral Porter had come into conflict over the conduct of the war in the Pacific, both over general tactics and especially over the overall strategy. Porter advocated a containment strategy, and extended blockade, while husbanding major naval units for more decisive actions. This was of course a sound idea, which Carter did not object to in the slightest, what he did object to was the complete and increasing absence of any offensive action in Admiral Porter's plans. This had made a certain sense, in the first months of the new civil war, when the blockade of the Oregon and California coasts had been established and was still firming up. The tense relations between Porter and himself had eventually reached a head, and Porter had sacked him in mid 1887 and sent him back to Washington, D.C. to await orders, this had turned out to be an unwise move on Porter's part, as his enemies in the government and the navy had used it as an excuse to sack Porter in turn.

Carter had wound up much to his surprise being sent back to command, the Pacific Fleet in Porter's place. He had flat orders to ginger up, the Pacific Fleet's up til then lackluster and pedestrian performance and take a more activist approach to win the war in the Pacific, or at least turn it in a more favourable direction for the Union. Carter had immediately lead the Pacific Fleet on a series of raids and feints against the rebel coastline, attacking several major harbours, including San Francisco, to the I.S.A's shock and alarm. The naval blockade both on the sea and in the air had been intensified by his and his subordinates efforts and the strategy of attack had slowly brought the war on the coasts to a successful turn. Carter did not think the matter was in the bag however. He had recently broached the subject of a large scale naval landing on the Oregon or California coast to open a second front against, the Army and Navy staffs had been interested, although the difficulties of such an operation, particularly sustaining it with the heavy demands of other fronts concerned both him and his own command staff.

The President had officially ordered him, to conduct a series of operations and bombardments of the Oregon coast, to draw out the I.S.A's main fleet and destroy it in detail before trying any landings. A sensible precaution in both Carter's and the various staffs involved in planning this new phase in the civil war. President Hayes had also given permission for Carter to make a second sortie into San Francisco or against the alternative targets of Los Angeles or San Diego if in his considered judgement that it was practical and likely to lead to the desired results. Both Carter's naval subordinates and his army colleagues in Washington State had worked over the winter to put together the necessary assets for an extended naval and land campaign and it had been agreed by himself and his army opposite number, General George Crook, that a serious offensive attack into Oregon by Union land forces was essential to the overall campaign, particular to secure crossings over the Columbia River so attacks could be mounted against rebel held Portland and the rebel state capital of Salem.

While both, he and Crook felt a joint naval-army offensive should be launched at the same time, but given the distances and terrain many army units would have to cross, this was unlikely to work in practice. For one thing, any land offensive was complicated by the aftermath of the I.S.A.'s Autumn-Winter Offensive of 1888. This assault had been narrowly beaten off as it had crashed across the Columbia River at several points. Rebel troops from California and Oregon had almost reached Seattle, getting as far as Tacoma before they had been forced back. After much conductive discussion both he and Crook had decide to launch their combined air efforts at the same time, while the navy hit the rebel coasts soon after this got underway. The remaining Rebel forces dug in on the river at Longview, had to be reduced as quickly as possible before Crook and his staff would consider large scale crossings of the Columbia themselves.

Some 150 miles to the east the rebel troops had driven in a massive bulge some 100 miles wide by 200 miles deep into Washington State between Pasco, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho. Crook's subordinate commanders were still trying to reduce this enemy held bulge but it looked like it was going to require a sustained effort, as the I.S.A army had dug in with considerable vigor and was bring in reinforcements from wherever it could procure them. Considerable discussions by telegraphy and air couriers with General of the Army John McAllistair Schofield had concerned this particularly troublesome and delicate point.

Which had resulted in General John Pope, the Commander of the Department of the North West, comming into the planning of a co-ordinated response to this problem from both the Department of the Pacific and the North West. Pope was putting together an Army of the Salmon, to pressure the rebels from the Idaho side the rebel lodgement, being dubbed the Walla Walla Bulge. Unfortunately, it would take approximately four or five months for Pope to assemble this force, as he had his hands full just policing his department against bandits, rustlers and roving bands of Indians, while engaging in ongoing operations against the Lakota Nation and independent enclaves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as well as an ongoing campaign against the emergent, independent and thoroughly troublesome Big Horn Basin Republic in Wyoming. Neither Crook, nor Carter were surprised at this but both were assured that Pope would honour his committment to lauching his part in a counter-offensive the moment it was logistically feasible for his department to do so.

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