It is late 1863 and the Civil War is going good for the Union. Gettysburg and Vicksburg have dealt the South what seems crushing blows. Still Confederate raiders continue to plague northern shipping. This is abetted by the British government turning a blind eye to companies building the raiders. Laird Brothers are constructing two raiders for the South. Known as the Laird Brother’s rams the two ships have state of the art armored turrent and big metal battering rams mounted on the front just like ancient triremes of old. Such ships would be a serious threat to the Union’s commerce. Now in our time diplomatic pressure resulted in the British halting delivery of the ships. In this divergent timeline Lincoln decides to send a warship to intercept them as they leave port.
So the U.S.S Gettysburg intercepts the C.S.S. North Carolina. Only the action takes place in British waters and the H.M.S Liverpool attempts to stop the Gettysburg. A battle results that sinks the Liverpool. Now the North finds itself at war with Great Britain. Soon after Napoleon III enters the war against the North to protect France’s adventure in Mexico. To make matters worse the Copperheads those anti-war democrats rise up in the Mid-West and free thousands of Confederate prisoners. The British strike from the north and capture Albany and start setting the Hudson Valley to the torch. Maine is invaded but the presence of units lead by Gettysburg hero Chamberlain prevent the capture of Portland a vital railroad hub. Now the city is under siege. It ends with a spectacular battle to lift the blockade of Charleston between the British fleet and the North’s fleet of ironclad monitors.
This is the first in a trilogy dealing with an alternate history that sees Britain and France enter the Civil War. I am so glad that I found this series at Half Price because it is the finest alternate history I have ever read. Tsouras a former Army intelligence officer and military historian has replaced Harry Turtledove has my favorite in alternate history fiction. This book is an exciting read from beginning to end. The scenario is plausible and he uses real historical figures with fictional ones used sparingly. He has an extensive bibliography and even goes to the trouble of making up fictional sources for his alternate facts. He has the foresight to put those in italics so you don’t go searching for them.
He wisely decides to use two lesser known figures as the central characters. On the Union side General George H. Sharpe and the English Lt. Colonel Garnet Wolseley. Interesting both are heads of the intelligence services considering this background in that field. It is about how the Union was fighting tied with one hand tied behind it’s back. That many modern weapons like the Spencer repeater and Gatling gun were openly suppressed by the head of Army procurement General Ripley who had a distaste for ‘newfangled gimcracks’. Now with two of the greatest industrial and military powers in war against them the Union has no choice but to mobilize for total war using every new innovation to tip the balance. I absolutely loved this book and the other two in the series also kept me in suspense as we will see in future reviews.