BAYONETS, BALLOONS & IRONCLADS BRITAIN AND FRANCE TAKE SIDES WITH THE SOUTH BY PETER G. TSOURAS

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Copyright 2015.

The war has seen some setbacks for the north after Britain and France have intervened. Now things are starting to look up. In New York the Army of the Hudson manages to drive out the British. The French are now stopped at Fort Hudson. Indeed there is a falling out between the French and Confederates as the French openly move to bring back Louisiana into their empire. Lincoln comes up with a bold plan. A force to attack the British Isles. One will land and destroy the Enfield factory in Essex. The other under the Irishman Meagher leads an Irish-American brigade to take over Dublin and declare an Irish Republic. Russia decides to join the war on the north’s side. Soon the raid is a great success. Soon the French army is destroyed and the British driven out of Canada. It ends with a decisive naval victory in the Chesapeake and the fall of Richmond.

So the final book comes to an exciting conclusion. The North has successfully mobilized industry to produce the much needed ironclads and repeater rifles needed. Indeed they manage to build working dirigibles and submarines. What I found interesting is that in the end the status quo was basically unchanged which is rare for an alternate history story to end at. The Confederacy was defeated. Canada was given back in exchange for California which the British successfully invaded. As Lincoln said “California has gold and Canada has ice.” So it was a no brainer.

There were some subtle differences. Booth’s attempt to assassinate Lincoln fails meaning he completed his second term and reconstruction was not dominated by radical Republicans. So there was a much less harsh reintegration. Also the Irish invasion lead to a much more benign English rule that saw Ireland gain its freedom earlier. There still was the Russian war. Prussia joined on their side and Austria on France’s. It is assumed that the end result lead to their victory and the same conditions that lead to France’s resentment and WWI. It gives us no hint at the ending of the war with Russia. That would be a story I would like Tsouras to write as it sounds interesting. I would be interested how the twentieth century turned out with these small changes if any.

This was an excellent series and probably the most realistic I have seen of the scenario of British intervention in the Civil War. Sure there were some fantastic feats like the raids on the British Isle and the steam powered dirigibles were a bit steampunky. But still within the realm of possibility. I definitely will check out his other work in the future.

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A RAINBOW OF BLOOD THE UNION IN PERIL BY PETER G. TSOURAS

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Copyright 2010.

In the last book the Union had a decisive victory over the British Navy at Charleston. Only it proved a pyrrhic victory. The fleet was forced to abandon the blockade and British and French aid comes pouring into the South. In the north British forces still are poised in upstate New York and threaten New York City. Portland is under siege. Rosecrans army is also trapped in Chattanooga after the defeat at Chickimauga. The only bright spot is Sherman’s swift crushing of the Copperhead revolt in the Midwest. He becomes known as ‘hanging Billy’ for all the Copperheads hanged.

Further setbacks as the French army has a decisive victory in Louisiana over an incompetent Union general and liberates New Orleans. Sensing his chance Lee launches an all out assault on Washington with the backing of the Royal Navy. Luckily the Union has now gone all out in mobilizing the country. Patriotism is on the rise and tens of thousands flock to enlist or reenlist. Many that were on the fence or against the war change their minds. The Irish that resisted the draft are more than anxious to fight the British. Fifteen thousand join in one day in New York City. General Sharpe forms the Central Information Bureau to gather intelligence. New weapons like repeaters, gatlings and balloons are being produced. Russia decides to support the North and negotiate a treaty to enter the war. They are still upset at the humiliation of the Crimean war and see this as an opportunity to plant the cross on the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

Soon Lee’s attack on Washington is beaten back with the help of the coffee mill guns. A balloon manages to sink two Royal Navy ships from the air marking the beginning of aerial warfare. General Hooker the disgraced general of Chancellorsville has a chance at redemption. With the Army of the Hudson manages to deliver a defeat to invading British forces in upper New York at Clavernack. The Union sets in for a fight for the survival of the nation.

The second book sees plenty of battles. I love how Tsouras has such a grasp of the history of each unit in the fight. His battles come off with all the various things that can go right or wrong. The random chance that sees plans succeed or fail. The personalities that can overcome or impede victory. Plus we get to see Lincoln be a total badass when he bashed the head in of his would be assassin during the Battle of Washington. This is riveting reading and I just love this series.

BRITANNIA’S FIST FROM CIVIL WAR TO WORLD WAR BY PETER G. TSOURAS

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Copyright 2008.

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.