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

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Fragments from the Americas IV

The White House, Washington D.C., Maryland, United States of America, January 1889.

President Rutherford Birchard Hayes stood in front of his desk in the Oval Office, in the White House gazing meditatively at the maps spread across it's cluttered surface. He spent most of his days, since his election to the job, poring over maps and documents, memorandums and reports, dealling with ongoing economic, political and military crises or scandals which seemed to be his lot practically every day. He had had his successes and his failures, though on reflection he felt future historians might remember his achievements in various governmental and administrative spheres more favourable then his own party, the Republicans. Though Hayes could not claim this as exclusive to his own term of office as president, Presidents Abraham Lincoln (4 terms, 1861-1872), Ulysses Simpson Grant (2 terms, 1873-77 and 1883-1887), James Abram Garfield (1 term, 1878-1882) had all had to grapple with much the same problems to greater or lesser extents during their tenures of the presidency.

His fingers traced the borders of the American Union and it's states, it's core members and the boundaries of several new states which were due to join throughout this year as they reorganized from Territorial governments into state governments with proper state constitutions and congressional representatives and senators recognized and accepted by the U.S. Congress. Four political parties, grappled for dominance within the U.S. Congress, the Republican Party (his own party), the Radical Republican Party (mercifully leaderless at the moment, as several candidates were locked in a bitter power struggle for control of the party), the Liberal Party (Carl Schurz), and the Democratic Party (Stephen Grover Cleveland). At the moment, the Republicans held the balance of power in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but it was a knife edge balance because, the opposition parties could block legislation in both houses, if they desired or even pass it with a slender majority if they voted together and if enough Republicans could be convinced to vote in accord with them. Given that the majority of Hayes's reforms had cost him virtually the whole of his own party's support, he was in the extremely awkward position of depending on the opposition parties to help him push through his programs. He was counting to some extent on the new senators and represenatatives that would join congress this year to help swing the delicate internal balance within Congress in his own political favour.

Five military departments controlled or rather attempted to control and police the disputed Mid and Far Western territories while at the same time wage a difficult and tediously long drawn out civil war and numerous Indian wars in the region. The Department of the North West commanded by General John Pope, oversaw the territories of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The Department of the South West, commanded by General Nelson Appleton Miles, covered the rebel state of Utah, and the Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico Territories. The Department of the Dakotas, commanded by General Henry Beebee Carrington, covered the North and South Dakota Territories (shortly to enter the Union in a few months as the states of North and South Dakota) east of the Missouri River. The Department of the Mid West, commanded by General John Rutter Brooke covered the Nebraska Territory (due to submit it's formal application to the Union, this month) and the Union State of Kansas. While finally the last Department, that of the Pacific,commanded by General George Crook covered the imperiled Union State of Washington.

The worst trouble spots for his administration was the long, highly militarized border with the C.S.A., the ongoing military rule and pacification of the Union State of Missouri, which was still plagued with fighting between Union Loyalists and pro-secessionist bandits and partisans. Further to the West, was the ongoing Lakota Nation war, a brutal struggle between the plains Indians and the U.S. Regulars and assorted volunteers and militiamen over some seven territories: North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Montana. The ongoing war with the Navajo Nation sprawled over peripheral parts of Utah and Colorado, and much larger portions of the Arizona and the New Mexico Territories.

Finally of course was the ongoing attempt to suppress the rebelling Independent States of America, formed by the former Union States of Oregon, California and Nevada, along side their associated rebel state Utah. Hayes, glanced absently at his watch, General John McAllister Schofield, the Army Chief-of-Staff and the Secretary of War Alexander Ramsey were due in shortly for their usual twice weekly conference with the President. Ironically, the I.S.A, which had been in existence for some four years had finally elected it's first provisional president. A man, that Hayes knew principally nothing about, other then he was a local born Californian man, and of some political prominence. He hoped that Schofield and Ramsey would be able to fill in some of the gaps for him, as it was always desireable to have an understanding of one's potential enemies. While, Hayes and Schofield had a good working relationship, Hayes would have much preferred having his old civil war comrade and former commanding officer George Crook in the office of Chief-of-Staff of the Army. Crook had however demured, while flattered at the offer, Crook had felt he was needed where he currently was, where he had enough problems and headaches with his departmental command as it was, without adding still more to it. Schofield also had a lot more tact and diplomatic aplomb then Crook felt he possessed, which was important for a job, that placed him square in the middle of what many Union military officers called The Snake Pit, i.e. Washington, D.C.

The other two members of his cabinet due to join them for the conference, one of whom was a man, that Hayes had come to intensely dislike and distrust, as had just about every other president who had held this office had learned to, Lafayette Curry Baker, the head of the National Detectives, the Union's uniformed military and political secret police force. The other of course, was Allen Pinkerton, head of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which functioned as the Union's senior plain clothes federal and civil policing and investigating and criminal police force. There was a considerable degree of overlap and intense competition between the National Detectives, the Pinkerton Detectives and the Foriegn Affairs branch of the government, due to all three handling similar policing, investigating and intelligence functions.

Technically, all foriegn espionage and counter-espionage duties were the preserve of the Foriegn Office if they occured outside the continential United States of America. The ongoing Second Civil War tended to blur the lines between what consituted foriegn and domestic however. Particularly where, the Indepentant States of America were concerned as it was both "foriegn" and "domestic", and that put the Foreign Office squarely in conflict with the National Detectives who generally handled all internal espionage and counter-espionage duties, and who regarded both the I.S.A. and the Disputed Western territories as squarely and solely in their field. The Pinkertons' did not help the situation by also claiming a role in those areas, which put them in conflict with the National Detectives as well. Hayes tugged at his beard angrily, as he thought over dealling with this Gordian Knot, which made his presidency more difficult at times then he wanted it to be, he had enough problems without playing referee between governmental departments and bodies, just because they got their collective noses out of joint, over jurisdictional issues!

Schofield had given him a warning that this would likely come up at today's conference, as well as when, the Secretary of State, William Maxwell Evarts joined the meeting later in the afternoon. Evart was tied up in an important meeting at the moment with the Legation Ministers of France and Great Britain. From the hints that Evart had dropped him early yesterday, Hayes was as hopeful as Evart was that the diplomatic meeting would be fruitful and of advantage to the United States. U.S. and French relations had been steadily thawing since the First Civil War, and had taken a distinctly warmer and more productive turn over the last couple of years. Relations with Great Britain were still however distinctly frosty, which was not altogether unexpected, on either side. However the fridge relationship had shown some signs of undergoing a thaw, When Gladstone's Liberals had taken over, although the temperature had remained lukewarm with the following British Whig and Conservative governments. Still Evart, felt that things might take a more positive political and economic swing, as the British had begun to resume a more friendly policy as their own relationship with the Confederate States of America had steadily cooled since 1867.

The other warning, that Schofield had dropped him, however did have Hayes, rather more concerned. One of Schofield's chief operations officers, Major-General Logan Patrick, had dropped a bombshell in the Union Army's High Command, when he had put forth a top secret internal paper analysising the current conduct of the current Civil War and Indian Wars and what steps might have to be taken to wrap the ongoing wars up more sucessfully. Schofield had promised to bring a précis of the memorandum, so Hayes could familiarize himself with it's contents before anyone in the Cabinet, Congress or god help them the newpapers got wind of the matter. That warning had put Hayes on guard, If Schofield was worried enough to bring the matter up, then it had to be important that he know about it. More Importantly, it was a matter that Schofield felt, that Hayes as Commander-in-Chief of the Union Armed Forces might have to make a decision on, that would have both military and political dimensions.

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