Friday, June 7, 2013

Dark Days Loom ahead


King James married Lady Margret Hackett three days ago, the wedding was small by any previous Royal Weddings but the fact the country was at war and because of the high security threat the wedding held in Whitehall Palace was necessarily intimate but wonderfully done, and of course under tight security.

The marriage between the two was as much a matter of the heart as it was a political alliance between The King and the strongest Royalist supporter Lord Hackett. With Lord Hackett's support came many lesser Lords and knights that may have been less than solid in their support for the Royal House without Lord hackett's lead.
Queen Margret was a strong rock for the younger King James to lean on, a rock that he would need in the coming struggle. She had grown from a young girl into a young woman in a household where she learnt from watching her father how survive the many intrigues and political tight ropes that one has conquer in order to command or rule. In fact she learnt so well her father used to jest that the student now advised the tutor, he said she had a very intuitive understanding of doing the right thing at the right time.
Margret was beautiful, charitable to those around her and in particular to her husband, but there was another side to her that made her extremely protective of both the King and her father, this other side of the Queens personality revealed a woman that would go to any degree to protect the two men in her life.
There had been two main security scares since James became King some 4 months ago, the first was a Confederation (Parliamentarian) attempt to place a large bomb under Whitehall chapel during the royal wedding, but that ploy had been discovered several weeks before the wedding. On another occasion several nights before the wedding three men, 2 English one French were intercepted in London, according the the encrypted messages that the Kings cryptographer Samuel Ogilvy broke they had planned to infiltrate the wedding reception and assassinate the Royal couple, the three men were interrogated thoroughly revealing more subversive plots against the royal couple and the Government, more importantly they gave Brother Paul a lead on the existence of a Parliamentarian spy ring in London itself.
Brother Paul, the kings spymaster was very concerned about the number of plots and schemes that were becoming revealed, naturally of course he was more worried about the ones that were not known; he knew he had to close them down before the conspirators finally got lucky.
It was Queen Margret who suggested that Brother Paul secretly start his own aggressive subversive campaign against the Parliamentarian leaders, thus the war was developing on yet another level; however the Queen made Brother Paul swear it was to be so secret the King was not to find out about it.

The one person who was able to stand up to the Queen was the Prime Minister Sir Edward Anders, he was not a man to be dominated nor maneuvered by smiles and charm, Sir Edward was forever the hard nosed political watchdog of the Kings Government. Despite a rocky and argumentative start the Queen and the Prime Minister came to respect the values of the other, both realising that they worked for a common cause, though possibly from different directions.

King James had changed significantly since being crowned King of England. Six months earlier he had been a lonely young man in Germany under the protection of his mother and his step father, now he ruled a Kingdom; albeit with the guidance of strong and loyal advisers.
However James was already ruling with confidence, he had very strong views and opinions of his own  and he was not backward in forcing his views through opposition. Again like his wife, King James was developing a intuitive aspect to his ruling a nation.

North American Distractions
Diplomatically the month of May was a horrendously bad month for the Royalist cause, news arrived from the North American Colony of South Georgia that the French were making in roads into what had always been English territory.
It had started as many conflicts seem too, that is as in a small way. Over the last few years the French had developed a system of encroachment on English Territory that had worked very well in the past, particularly in the northern colonies.
First a group of French settlers would drift into a territory, they would settle and as with their English neighbours begin farming and trading. Then difficulties would occur when the French farmers started to settle in clumps or communities, at first some English farmers would have suffered raids made on their lands at night, or a trader/businessman would have his business destroyed or harrassed. Naturally the English Colonists would appeal to the Governor but usually he had to few troops to react, if he did react by sending troops it was invariably to few. Sometimes the French “settlers” would be removed, if the British came in strength but in those cases invariably they would reappear elsewhere the following year. However all too often the border intrusions would be left to the colonists to sort out, when they did they would find the French settlers had support of an armed force that though not in French uniforms would seem remarkably military in their performance. The result in these situations meant inevitably would be the English Colonists would pull up stakes and move elsewhere, the French Colonists would solidify their new gains and the whole process would occur again elsewhere along the border.
This strategy was new for those in the south and at first the English Colonists were slow to respond to the threats, however they soon realised that these raids and attacks on prominent individuals were more than isolated events the colonists appealed to the Governor. However Governor William Oman just like his northern colleagues was limited in what he could do. He did however send some troops to the areas of the attacks and that had a quietening effect for a while, but then the attacks started more aggressively and in one instance a Army garrison was attacked, they repulsed the raiders but suffered heavy losses in doing so.
Governor Oman sent his deputy off to London, though many months earlier he had written appeals for help to the High Council with absolutely no response, when he heard that England had a new King the Governor did not hesitate to send his deputy as his representative. This time they would appeal to the King directly, the man Governor Oman sent was Lieutenant General Robert Castlemaine, eldest son of Lord Castlemaine, Duke of Berkshire and a Royalist supporter.
Lt Gen Castlemaine and his father first made representations to the Prime Minister in asking him for aid in appealing to the King for reinforcements, Prime Minister Anders warned them they were unlikely to get any as the war in England was not going well, but none the less he would try on their behalf.
However before the interview with the Prime Minister was over, Edward Anders learnt that the Colonial wars were taking on yet another dimension. Lt Gen Castlemaine told him of an incident that occurred on his journey to England. He left the Colonies in a Royal Navy frigate and a few days after their departure they had heard naval gunfire, Lt Gen Castlemaine ordered the captain to investigate which he did immediately some 15 minutes later they saw in the distance a Brig attacking a merchant ship. The Brig obviously saw the frigate and fled, the Frigate closed on the merchant to help, and on crossing over to the heavily damaged ship they soon learnt that the Brig that had been attacking the English merchant ship had been flying a Prussian flag.

Prime Minister Anders called an urgent cabinet meeting which the King would be chairing and Lt Gen Castlemaine and his father the Duke of Berkshire would be attending as well.

The first matter on the agenda was the military situation in the colonies. After Lt Gen Castlemaine made his report no one around the table was in doubt to the seriousness of the situation, the problem was how to solve it.
Already the Royalist Armies in England were out numbered and from latest reports the odds against them would increase with intelligence reports indicating yet more French troops were landing on the South East Coast near Dover.

The discussion on their options was really quite brief, simply because there were not many options available.
The problem was not only troop numbers which was serious in itself, but there remained the possibility the Prussians were becoming involved against the English Colonies. The Prussians did not own any colonies in North America, what they had was in fact was defacto control over several cities on the eastern seaboard. This ”control” was through the dominance of Prussian Mercantile interests in those cities and the fact that many prominent Prussians had managed to get themselves voted into the local assemblies.
So much so that the local militia in some cities consisted of a great number of German immigrants lead by “retired Prussian Officers”. The general populace didnt really mind as first the “German Militias” as they become known gave a sense of security, and also a large percentage of the population in these centres consisted of Germans.
The problem for the English authorities was that in those colonies where these cities had strong Prussian representation and a Prussian/German military presence the attacks against civilians, traders and settlers were minimal. In those areas where the British had control the attacks were common and escalating, if not on the towns or cities at least on the rural farming communities. This was leading to the situation where loyalties were becoming challenged.
Since the formation of the Colonies there had always been an element that wanted to become independent of England, particularly since they were paying taxes and were definitely not getting the support or protection they require or expected.
There were those who would remain loyal to England, in particular now that the motherland had a new King, the stronghold for Royalist English Support was New York.
There was yet another faction of colonists that favoured Prussian protection, in fact some assemblies had written to King Frederick of Prussia asking for increased protection. To date King Frederick had declined because he knew it would involve him in a war with England.

All these situations were further complicated with the openly aggressive attitude of the French authorities in the north and a new Spanish desire to spread in the south. The Spanish were definitely less Francophile than they had been in previous years but there was equally very little chance for any Anglo/Spanish co-operation as the Spanish had their own objectives for more territory, fortunately it was likely to be at the expense of France.

As the Prime Minister indicated, even if they sent over the entire Royalist Army it would be barely enough to contain the situation.

For several minutes there was complete silence in the Cabinet room as each one at the table contemplated the options, finally the King spoke.

“It is clear we cannot hold all the colonies under the present situation, we simply dont have the resources, yet it is equally clear we cannot simply abandon the colonies. So what do we have left, it is abundantly clear to me at least, that the American Colonies are going to have to take a more proactive defence of their own territories. However in the past they have been reluctant to do this for a varying number of reasons but the main one has been taxes andrepresentation in Governing themselves.”

He looked around the room, most were nodding there heads in agreement, James continued.

“If we are to expect the North American Colonies to look after themselves with a minimal input from England we must expect to give them a level of self determination and Government”.

Lord Hackett interjected,
“Sire that will mean we lose the colonies, that is not an option surely.”

“Sadly M'Lord Hackett it is a reality that England may lose the colonies in North America, what I am hoping with your support is that we can encourage the American Assemblies to join in a Commonwealth where they will pool their resources to defend themselves with the assistance of English forces.”

Lord Castlemaine spoke, “Sire what you suggest is practical in a broad sense, but my own experience of the Colonial Assemblies is that they are fragmented by factions that rarely co-operate with each other; I am left wondering why would they suddenly start co-operating now.”

Lord Castlemaine's son General Castlemaine spoke, “If I may Sire, I believe what you are suggesting will go a long way towards satisfying most factions within the assemblies, there will be those who want more of one thing and less of another but I gather that in democracies that is to be expected. However Sire if you intend to offer the colonies the chance of self determination, Lord Hackett is correct; it will be the beginning of England losing the Colonies in America.”

The Prime Minister Edward Anders then said, “We are already losing the colonies in America, what his majesty is suggesting is that we bow out with grace or eventually be thrown out, either by the French, the Prussians or even the Colonists themselves. For one thing is certain, to hold what we currently have against the forces mounting against us is impossible while we are fighting a civil war here in England.
I tend to agree with his majesty, if we offer the colonies a graduated process of self Government starting with a Commonwealth of States, supported by a more proactive British Military presence while the Colonists organise their own military we will have a better chance of keeping America as a friend and trading partner than if we continue as we are at present.”

Lord Hackett asked, “Then how do we offer a more proactive Military presence when we are already fully committed everywhere?”

The King nodded, “M'Lord that is indeed the crux of the matter, how do we get blood out of a stone.”

The Prime Minister offered a suggestion,
“Yesterday I received a missive from the Duke of Cornwall that he has finished equipping and training 2 militia battalions into regular Battalions, it had been our intention to send them to General Anders in Lyndhurst however we could send them to the Colonies, but they are the last of our reserves for the moment. But apart from those two units Sire, I would suggest we do things differently in the colonies, rather than spread the army out into small and inefficient garrisons we replace those garrisons with Colonial militia that can be trained into regular units while they are serving on station so to speak. It will mean we need to detach some NCO's and officers as a training cadre for the training garrisons but this would leave us a trained field army to maneuver as we see fit.
At the moment and I believe General Castlemaine may be better informed to comment than myself but I believe at the moment the colonies are being harassed by small irregular enemy bands, I suggest we use our field army to engage these bands and not merely send them on their way, but to destroy them. I do realise there is a great risk of escalating the skirmishes in the colonies into a greater conflict; however I think that is inevitable anyway.”

General Castlemaine then added, “Yes I agree, we need to send a message to the French, that the encroachments are finished, yes again I certainly agree there is a greater risk of escalation but I feel certain that the colonists would be prepared to defend themselves with a greater level of commitment if they were fighting for their own inevitable independence. However might I suggest that the military command structure be better organised than it is at present, currently we have Governors and their subordinate commanders commanding local units, what is needed is a command structure that will allow a supreme commander of the field army and a staff to support him.”

The King nodded, smiling to himself, “Perhaps General Castlemaine you would be the man to lead the field army.”

The General smiled back in return, “No sire as much as I would like a field command I am tainted by the same factionalism that ferments most of the assemblies, if you want real progress you need a man who is not tainted by any faction, a man who is independently minded and has a personality strong enough to resist the inevitable pressures and squabbles that will descend on him. In other words sire a man who is from here in England and has your personal support.”

The King nodded, “There are two such men, General Graham who is commander of the Midlands army, and my own step father General Anders in Lyndhurst. Of the two General Anders has the greater experience but I was thinking of appointing him the command of all the Royalist armies here in England, I need his experience here, so that leaves General Graham.”

The Prime Minister nodded, “Aye Sire I agree, General Graham is a bloody minded gentleman and the colonists will find it difficult to sway him from his duty, but who will you use to replace him; for the Midlands army is vital to our holding the Midlands. There is ahhhh Major General Preston Grahams current second in command but he will need a new second in command.”

The King interrupted the Prime Minister. “Indeed and I have just the man who has been nagging me for a field command incessantly over these last few months, your son sir, Lieutenant General James Anders. It means he relinquishes his command of my Guard but that is not a problem for I intend to change the structure of the guard anyway, but that will be on another day. James needs field experience and he will serve General Preston very well I am sure.”

The Prime Minister nodded, he knew his son will be pleased to escape the confines of the palace looking down at his notes that he had been busy writing,
“So to summarise Sire, we are sending General Graham to the American Colonies as commander in Chief, General Leopold Anders will become commander in Chief of our forces here in England and James will become second in command to General Preston. We have two regular battalions that will sail with Leopold to North America, is that correct”

“Indeed, I will give both Generals Leopold Anders and General Graham more specific instructions on the morrow, but if you will have those instructions drawn up we can get things moving.”

There was a knock at the door, it was opened by a Guard Grenadier and one of the Kings secretaries entered, seemingly somewhat flustered. Everyone knew it had to be urgent because there were clear instructions that Cabinet meetings were not to be interrupted except in an emergency.
“Yes Samuel what is it?” asked the King.

The Secretary walked to the end of the table and handed a message to the King, James face went white, he looked up at Secretary and then back and the note. He paused for a few moments and then looking down the table he said quietly,

“We have been betrayed.”

Immediately there was a commotion around the table, questions “Who”, “where” and “why” abounded. The King dropped the note rose from his seat and walked to the window. Prime Minister Anders leaned over and picked up the message, it was from Brother Paul.

Sire
The Duke of Cumberland has gone over to the Confederates, Samuel (The Kings Cryptographer) has broken two messages confirming this. The Regular Army (4 Battalions, 1 Cavalry regiment less horses) units refused to join him as did the Navy the army units have escaped by commandeering merchant ships and are being escorted south by the navy.
We have intercepted messages between Cumberland and the Scottish Government in which Cumberland is trying to convince them to support the Confederation, with the promise of Scotland’s independence once they have achieved victory.”

Brother Paul.

The Prime Minister looked up at the others,
“We have lost the North”.

The King walked back, he stood at the end of the table his hands resting on the table edge so they would not betray the shock he was feeling.

“No we have not lost anything Prime Minister, we have had a setback in the north but thank god for the loyalty of the army and navy because with those 4 Battalions and the cavalry we are going to gain the south, send for Leopold at once, I am sick and tired of reacting to the rebel scum, I want something done now before we lose all support.”
He looked over to Edward
“You will go directly to Edinburgh yourself and you will convince the Scots to remain loyal, I don’t know how but you must succeed. But before you leave you will send for the Prussian ambassador, he has some explaining to do.”

Lord Castlemaine asked, “What about the Colonies Sire?”

James sighed heavily, “M'Lord Castkemaine, General Graham and the two battalions will sail as instructed, we desperately need them here but we will need them more in the colonies very soon; and General Castlemaine you are hereby appointed second in command to General Graham, whether you are tainted by any faction or not I dont care. I don’t need to remind you general that while you wear that uniform you serve me and no other faction or interests.”

With that said the King left the cabinet room

5 comments:

  1. oh dear. that is a bit of a bugger. but the King is right. they have the army even if they no longer have the territory. they can now concentrate their forces in the south before they tackle the north.

    as for the French, two can play at the game of covert armies. what if there should be some ships carrying some Prussian settlers to North America. these then pull into a French harbour, then in the night what appears to be 2 regular battalions in fighting style but not clothing rampage around the port destroying ships and blowing up some buildings. who would then sail off rapidly. the French would be unable to follow due to the sudden appearance of what might be the royal navy on the horizon.

    certainly if that were to happen the French would be set against the Prussians, it could lead to hostilities. and when the two regular battalions arrive in the America's they could certainly find the Prussians who have settled their willing to help against the advancing French out of fear the angry French colonists would not treat them nicely when they spread that way.

    naturally such a plan has its risks but if it was successful it could rally the colonies! turn the French against the Prussians, give the two regular battalions some experience in covert and surprise attack (something they desperately need to learn before they reach the America's) and it could help to limit the flow of supplies to the French colonies for a while.

    Also one might want to consider a permanent position for the monarch of England in the independent government of the Union of Colonies (just though of a simple name)Naturally it would be more symbolic but it would cement those ties.

    as for Scotland perhaps offering them a similar deal to the colonies would suit them better than full on independence. being offered self government while still retaining military ties and full trade connections is perhaps nicer than having full independence at the risk of losing military support and trade.

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  2. I have similar ideas for the colonies along the lines you have suggested, I like your suggestion for the Union of Colonies and will certainly adopt that; many thanks.

    The next episode will be the first of a series of major battles as the French along with the Confederation forces launch their attack on London.

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  3. I was thinking that so long as King James has the loyal support of Londoners - even were he to lose the city - he would still be in with a solid chance of survival. London was the key. It may be that James's advisers are underestimating the value of popular support. He may have 'lost the north' in terms of the greater nobility in that region, but there may be lesser lights, middle class types or even your good and stolid English yeomen who are less than enamoured of their immediate overlords, and might be recruitable to the Royalist cause in the North.

    Ditto the Colonies. What are the non-Royalist magnates doing about them? If the King can be seen to be attempting to do something, even at the risk of his crown, the colonists might rather cleave to the Mother Country and the Crown, rather than break away into a doomed independence. The appointee should be styled Governor General, and as a Deputy has already been appointed, by the look, at least one notable colonist should be appointed co-deputy, and/or a colonial committee set up with a view to a semi-independent governance.

    One of the Acts of this committee might be to enact a sort of 'free trade' between the Colonies and England, and impose tariffs upon imports from other countries; heavy tariffs upon French and Prussian imports. To deal with incursions, a mounted flying column (dragoons and/or mounted infantry), set up.

    French and other settlers in territories Britain claims for itself will be taxed according to schedules laid down by the Colonial Committee, as if they were British Colonists. What this would do is allow the incursive settlers to break in marginal land, creating opportunities for British expansion into those areas, absorbing the incursions.

    Some possibilities there, methinks, Barry
    Cheers,
    Ion

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  4. These are all good ideas and I like them, there is a real possibility that London may fall in the coming offensive, but I wont know that until the battles are played out. Yes the idea of a Governor General appeals to me and as General Graham will be the man on the spot he will be the Govenor General of the United Colonies.
    In my mind I am prepared for the Royalists to lose territory in North America but I have been reluctant to open another theatre of war, but I see that is inevitable now so I will go with the flow. I expect a lot of small North American battles and skirmishes.

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  5. If I may, I'll put in my view of how the conflict in the America's will unfold.

    I went through a period of fascination with the wars between the French and British in North America, I read the same book about the wars ranging from those at the end of the 17th century right up until the time the British took Quebec twice.

    basically the story was simple; lots of raiding parties with only random full scale military actions, which were dependant on the most part on forces from the mother countries. The main point to note however is the use of native soldiers. these tribes would occasionally be brought to help large armies but would (by the sounds of it) carry out their own raids. the tribes had loyalties to one side or another (very few could remain neutral) and as such both sides were eager to keep some on side.

    these tribes would often wage war against one another, but also hinder the efforts of the enemy of their European ally. this is critical as the British made an alliance with the people that separated them from the French! (in reality I mean) if these tribes could be raised into war against the French they would leave the French insurgents in the United Colonies separated and vulnerable!

    just a thought. naturally in your historical version the tribal alliances could be different.

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