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"USA vs. French; Mexico, 1865" Topic

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earlofwessex18 Sep 2015 12:56 p.m. PST

Has anyone gamed this? Whereas in reality a Union naval blockade would have sealed the fate of the French, we can always imagine what the clash would have been like. Philip Sheridan was on the Mexican border with 50,000 Federal troops. The French had 30,000 men in Mexico, plus 4,500 Austrians and Belgians who were the guard of the Empress. There were also quite a few Confederate hold-outs who had fled across the border, including several intact units and Sheridan's old rival, Jubal Early. They would mainly add spice to a minis game. There were Egyptians (with camels, canon Elephants, war hounds and Coptic knights), and Hungarians (almost 1,000 including Hussars). If you want to get creative, the Spanish had been there earlier with about 6,000 men, but had left by the time the US got directly involved. Yes, the Foreign Legion was there.

The French, due to their time in Mexico, was an entirely mounted force, although most of them were mounted infantry. I'm not sure about the technology of the French – what their rifles and arty were like.

I do know that my friend a professor of history for whom I was a TA and who is a specialist in both ACW and the mid-19th century French Army, has flip-flopped on his opinion of how it would turn out. Fifteen years ago he went for the French, because they were the most militarily sophisticated army in the world, but more recently he's judged that the US experience in battle would win the day for them.

Has anyone played this out? What comments do you have?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2015 1:43 p.m. PST

I think the battle hardened Union Army would have stomped their asses into the ground. The French did not have the combat experience, the logistical experience or the field command experience that the Union had. The Imperialist forces were typically concerned about moving and supplying small forces in the field, not divisions and corps of tens of thousands of men. In addition, the Republicans would continue to disrupt lines of supply and communication, making things that much more difficult for the French.

HistoryPhD18 Sep 2015 1:54 p.m. PST

And the French performed dismally just 5 years later

jdginaz18 Sep 2015 2:10 p.m. PST

I have read quote that indicated that both the French and Prussian observers believed that the Union gunnners were the best in the world at that time.

Robert Burke18 Sep 2015 3:04 p.m. PST

Don't forget the ex-Confederates (e.g. Shelby) who would have flocked to Mexico to serve in Maximilian's army.

Shedman18 Sep 2015 3:14 p.m. PST

There were Egyptians (with camels, canon Elephants, war hounds and Coptic knights)

Do you have a source for the canon Elephants, war hounds and Coptic knights

Mad Guru18 Sep 2015 3:40 p.m. PST

There was one battalion of approx. 450 Sudanese infantry from the Egyptian army that served with the French in Mexico from 1863-1867 (a great book about them is "A Black Corps d'Elite"), but -- at least to my knowledge -- their ranks did not include camels, elephants (which I've never heard of serving with any Egyptian military, except maybe back in the days of Hannibal and Bush Elephants), war hounds or Coptic knights.

Also, the French in Mexico in 1865 -- though they certainly did have a good amount of cavalry and also mounted infantry -- were not an all-mounted force.

Still, I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, and as you are positing a alternate-history scenario to begin with, it's just a question of how far you choose to stray from the historical orders of battle. Camels, elephants and Coptic knights would certainly make for some very exotic troop-types to include in a game set in 19th Century Mexico.

Re: the OP's question… I'm a big fan of gaming the Maximillian Intervention and Camerone is one of my all-time favorite battles in all of history, but I believe the 1865 Union Army would have emerged victorious.

Winston Smith18 Sep 2015 3:43 p.m. PST

Don't forget the ex-Confederates (e.g. Shelby) who would have flocked to Mexico to serve in Maximilian's army.

Really? How many would have "flocked"?

Tgunner18 Sep 2015 4:10 p.m. PST

think the battle hardened Union Army would have stomped their asses into the ground.

It honestly would depend on who is really commanding the Union. Phil was a good officer, but was he really that good? I seem to remember him getting his tail smacked a few times as well!

Overland Campaign


n the early battles of the campaign, Sheridan's cavalry was relegated by army commander Maj. Gen. George G. Meade to its traditional role—screening, reconnaissance, and guarding trains and rear areas—much to Sheridan's frustration. In the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5–6, 1864), the dense forested terrain prevented any significant cavalry role. As the army swung around the Confederate right flank in the direction of Spotsylvania Court House, Sheridan's troopers failed to clear the road from the Wilderness, losing engagements along the Plank Road on May 5 and Todd's Tavern on May 6 through May 8, allowing the Confederates to seize the critical crossroads before the Union infantry could arrive.[21]

When Meade quarreled with Sheridan for not performing his duties of screening and reconnaissance as ordered, Sheridan told Meade that he could "whip Stuart" if Meade let him. Meade reported the conversation to Grant, who replied, "Well, he generally knows what he is talking about. Let him start right out and do it." Meade deferred to Grant's judgment and issued orders to Sheridan to "proceed against the enemy's cavalry" and from May 9 through May 24, sent him on a raid toward Richmond, directly challenging the Confederate cavalry. The raid was less successful than hoped; although his raid managed to mortally wound Confederate cavalry commander Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart at Yellow Tavern on May 11 and beat Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee at Meadow Bridge on May 12, the raid never seriously threatened Richmond and it left Grant without cavalry intelligence for Spotsylvania and North Anna. Historian Gordon C. Rhea wrote, "By taking his cavalry from Spotsylvania Court House, Sheridan severely handicapped Grant in his battles against Lee. The Union Army was deprived of his eyes and ears during a critical juncture in the campaign. And Sheridan's decision to advance boldly to the Richmond defenses smacked of unnecessary showboating that jeopardized his command."[22]

Rejoining the Army of the Potomac, Sheridan's cavalry fought inconclusively at Haw's Shop (May 28), a battle with heavy casualties that allowed the Confederate cavalry to obtain valuable intelligence about Union dispositions. They seized the critical crossroads that triggered the Battle of Cold Harbor (June 1 to June 12) and withstood a number of assaults until reinforced. Grant then ordered Sheridan on a raid to the northwest to break the Virginia Central Railroad and to link up with the Shenandoah Valley army of Maj. Gen. David Hunter. He was intercepted by the Confederate cavalry under Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton at the Battle of Trevilian Station (June 11–12), where in the largest all-cavalry battle of the war, he achieved tactical success on the first day, but suffered heavy casualties during multiple assaults on the second. He withdrew without achieving his assigned objectives. On his return march, he once again encountered the Confederate cavalry at Samaria (St. Mary's) Church on June 24, where his men suffered significant casualties, but successfully protected the Union supply wagons they were escorting.[23]

It's granted that battle experience is a very good thing, but good generalship is too! I know Phil was a solid and aggressive leader, but was he really that good? Granted, he was probably better than most of the leadership that the Union fielded during the war, but I have to ask how would he have done against the French?

Hopefully, for him, the French leadership wasn't that great either.

earlofwessex18 Sep 2015 4:37 p.m. PST

First, regarding my source on the camels, etc. I am embarrassed to say that my source is Wikipedia. I did my research on this in a paper library in 1998 and used Wiki to check on some facts. There I encountered the Egyptians and Hungarians, which I hadn't heard before.

I also think that the US would have won for some of the same reasons that 79thPA listed above. The French had combat experience, but not a lot of experience with large set-piece battles. It reminds me of a throwaway comment that I read years ago that the combat experience US troops got in Vietnam isn't clearly transferable to Europe vs the Warsaw pact. For one thing, they assume they have command of the air.

I'll also throw in that when the French commander gave Napoleon III his assessment on their chances vs the US he specifically mentioned the quality of the US cavalry.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2015 4:50 p.m. PST

There is no reason to imagine that the French leadership was any better than the Union. And Phil may have lost a few engagements in Mexico however, the victory of the Union is not even in doubt IMO.

I think Reb support would have been a dribble rather than a flock.

earlofwessex18 Sep 2015 5:37 p.m. PST

I agree about Reb support being a dribble. How well it would have integrated with the Imperialists is another question because of a host of barriers, language etc. They might have been able to provide a small harassing force that was unfamiliar with the terrain.

The main question would be if you want a game designed for accuracy or for fun. The fun would include as many diverse elements as possible.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2015 6:01 p.m. PST

Whereas in reality a Union naval blockade would have sealed the fate of the French […]

I have my doubts about that.

The French navy was considered the second most powerful navy of the time. It had a LOT of blue-water broadside ironclads, and the Union navy had little or nothing to match them. Napoleon would have been able to open any port he wanted to if he decided to land troops, convoy in supplies, or capture a base of naval operations. The Union had the edge in small patrol craft, but it would have been a tough fight for control of the Caribbean coastlines.

I don't think either side would have been able to blockade the other nation's ports.

I need to do some research, but I suspect the French would have the edge in commerce raiding. That has forever been a primary design goal for French cruisers, whereas the Union had little experience at it (there was almost no Confederate commerce to raid!).

This is a fun "what if". If anyone decides to game it, I'll bring the ships. grin

- Ix

earlofwessex18 Sep 2015 7:41 p.m. PST

Now you've made it even more interesting. I based my assumption of an easy blockade by the US on two facts. First, that in 1865 the US Navy was the second largest in the world. Second, that US bases are a lot closer to Mexico than is France. However, the French did have several possessions in the Western Hemisphere. I don't know if any of them would have been suitable as a base.

Very interesting comment – I'm ready for more info if you have it.

Charlie 1218 Sep 2015 7:53 p.m. PST

Another element to consider re: the French navy. When decided to base themselves in the Gulf, they picked one of the worse disease spots along the whole of the Gulf coast. The navy suffered a particular bad outbreak of yellow fever which decimated their crews. Some ships had to return to France to rehab their crews.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2015 11:08 p.m. PST

Apparently not learning from 2 centuries of prior experience running fleet ops in the Caribbean… <sigh>

- Ix

Woollygooseuk19 Sep 2015 1:55 a.m. PST

I think a another significant what if within the what if is the attitude of the American troops. My first instinct would be to favour Sheridan's army of veterans. If those veterans felt they had done their bit however, and/or didn't have the commitment to a war in Mexico, the result might be quite different.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2015 4:07 a.m. PST

The French ironclad Gloire of 1859 started an arms race between France and Britain, and by 1865 France had 17 ocean-going broadside ironclads in commission or building (3x Gloires, Couronne, 2x Magentas, 10x Provences, Belliquese). If our Anglo-centric history books are to be believed, these were inferior to their British counterparts, but I'm pretty sure every one of them was superior in power to nearly all US warships, especially on the open ocean where monitors couldn't go.

France still had a huge fleet of wooden battleships. I would have to do some serious research to figure out exactly how huge, but the Wikipedia page List of ships of the line of France can give us an idea: the last section alone ("Second Republic (1848 to 1852) and Second Empire (1852 to 1870)") lists 37 ships of the line launched, and there must have been dozens more still in commission from earlier decades. Wooden battleships had become extremely vulnerable to iron monsters spitting explosive shell and tipped with rams, but many of them stayed in commission until well after the period of a possible Second Mexican War, and a broadside of 40-60 guns was still a helluva lot of firepower to face, even in an ironclad. The USA had a few wooden battleships when the ACW started, but many were burned to stop them from falling to the Confederates, and the rest were generally mothballed or decommissioned because they were pretty useless for the blockade or chasing commerce raiders.

France also had plenty of steam-powered wooden frigates, corvettes, brigs, and other "small" broadside-armed wooden ships. These are the ships most likely to be contesting sea lanes away from ports. Without research I don't know just how big this part of the French navy was, but the Wikipedia List of French steam frigates shows 51 ships of 8-50 guns (most with 20-40 guns), and there were other categories of broadside-armed wooden sailing ships not listed on that page. The US navy had a lot of ships in this class by 1865 too, but probably generally smaller, unit for unit. The US navy had immense difficulty stopping a very small number of relatively weak Confederate raiders, so I don't see how it would prevail against many dozens of powerful warships filling the same role.

The US navy had a zillion littoral and riverine warships, including the largest fleet of monitors and river ironclads in existence, and the veteran officers and crews aboard would have been a distinct advantage against the greener navy of France. France had nothing to match this fleet in the Americas. However, ships like these need to operate close to bases, so they'd only be good at protecting and maybe assaulting ports.

Interesting strategic puzzle.

I give France a clear nod in the commerce-raiding contest, and assume the seas would remain clear of ships flying US flags for the duration of hostilities. However, most US trade would probably just move in English ships, since the French would be anxious to avoid giving England any excuse to join the war against them. Meanwhile, America has always produced avid privateers, and had just learned the hard way how effective a small number of fast, light commerce raiders could be, so would probably adopt that strategy with gusto and take a heavy toll on French commercial shipping as well.

I give the US the nod in Mexican coastal operations, except that a large enough French fleet of broadside ironclads, steam frigates, and battleships could probably overwhelm nearly any port it chose to. Port control would probably go to the side that controlled the surrounding land area. The French would probably get supplies through the east coast of Mexico, Americans via the west coast.

The Americans would control any river they chose to, but would probably be unable to effectively disrupt French sea supply routes, since American ocean-going warships would be overmatched by the French blue-water ships patrolling and convoying those routes.

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2015 4:22 a.m. PST

A lot of fun naval scenarios come to mind:

  • American raiders making cat-and-mouse raids, steaming out of lagoons behind Mexican barrier islands to prey on French ships entering or leaving Mexican ports and ducking back in before the French frigates or deep-water ironclads can catch them.
  • The 1865 Mexican War version of Bonhomme Richard vs. Serapis: a scrappy American steam raider attacking a French convoy protected by a French steam frigate.
  • A fleet like Farragut's Mobile Bay force, assisted by powerful shore batteries, defends the port of Tampico against a French fleet of broadside ironclads, paddle and screw frigates, and steam ships of the line. Can the Americans sink and burn enough French ships to make them abort the attack?
  • An American fleet descends on Isla del Carmen, which the French have fortified into the Gibralatar of Mexico. (Find Ciudad del Carmen in Google Maps, you'll see what I'm talking about.)
  • The French attack New Orleans in force. They need a base near the coast of Mexico… why not take one where people already speak French?

I've owned a Houston's model of Gloire for years, and never built it. I think I just found a use for it. grin

- Ix

KTravlos19 Sep 2015 5:00 a.m. PST

By 1865 the French effort in Mexico was dwindling. If you want a more interesting scenario you need to have Napoleon III intervening in the US Civil War earlier (1863 or 1864).

Things you need to take into consideration (other have pointed them out)

1) The French navy is not a minimal factor. In 1865 it probably has a better blue-water capability than the US navy. Yes the US navy has more ships, but many of them are small and under-armed. So let us assume that in general the French can support a field army against the US.

2) Size of that Army. The forces deployed against Mexico were about 30k men. Are we to assume that this is the maximum the French could send in case of a full-out war? Do you think that would give a good game? Or maybe you should prefer to have a larger formation, one with imperial guard units deployed. How large ?60k maybe? 50k?

3) The French army had just fought two major wars in the decade before this, one just 5 or 6 years before (Crimean War,Second War of Italian Unification in 1859). They had also sent two large expeditionary forces far from their home base (Crimea and Mexico). To put it simply this is an army with lots of battlefield experience, and a command that is not a stranger to large battles or operational planning. More important they have experience if fighting in arid areas, and in maintaining large forces away from France. Troops were veterans many of them having seen war in Algeria, Italy, Crimea and Mexico.

4) Many of the failures of the French army of the Second Empire has less to do with military prowess and more with political will. If you assume that Napoleon III is gun-ho for a war and the French public willing to support it, it would be a fallacy to assume that the army would be hampered the way it was hampered in other of its operations.

So it really depends. Do you want to pit what was actually in Mexico in 1865 against the US? It would lose. Do you want to pit what a bellicose France would put in the field in a popular war against the Union in 1863 or 1864? Then I dare say all bets are off. Especially if we are talking about a battle than a full campaign. It would be an interesting game though.

bobspruster19 Sep 2015 5:24 a.m. PST

Meh. I want to game the Union forcing the British out of Canada in 1865. Palmerston's saber rattling creates a grudge which is acted upon after the ACW ends.

Personal logo DWilliams Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2015 7:48 a.m. PST

Remember that the French did not yet have their superior breech-loader Chassepot rifle in production yet. That weapon made a difference five years later in 1870.

Tgunner19 Sep 2015 12:36 p.m. PST

The wiki on it says around 1866-67 was its arrival time, so it's not completely out of the question. Maybe French forces in Mexico still have the normal percussion cap muzzle loaders, but new forces arriving from Europe could have Chassepots.

Don't forget, the Union has its own repeating weapons plus the Gatling gun! Bumping into the Chassepot would really accelerate the Army into adopting more repeating weaponry.

Henry Martini19 Sep 2015 3:23 p.m. PST

Actually the Chassepot virtually won the Battle of Mentana against Garibaldi for the French in 1867.

Winston Smith20 Sep 2015 7:31 a.m. PST

Too bad there wasn't a clash. Then the USA may not have fallen for the "Lafayette we are here!" drivel and let the Great War peter out on its own without Wilson blundering about with his holier than thou blather.
Letting the Great War fall apart from mutual exhaustion with no winners would have been a better result.

Mad Guru20 Sep 2015 12:22 p.m. PST


Don't know if you've ever seen it or even heard of it, but there is a 1965 American movie directed by Sam Peckinpah ("The Wild Bunch"), starring Charleton Heston and Richard Harris, called MAJOR DUNDEE, which -- though very different from your "What If?" scenario -- does involve a battle between American Union troops (as well as Confederate prisoners-turned-allies) and the French army in Mexico in its climactic ending. Might be worth checking out for a bit more inspiration, especially if you like Westerns.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2015 5:10 p.m. PST

Too bad there wasn't a clash. Then the USA may not have fallen for the "Lafayette we are here!" drivel and let the Great War peter out on its own without Wilson blundering about with his holier than thou blather.

I'm not sure I buy this. Realistically, none of the potential participants were going to let it come to blows. Napoleon had his fingers in too many pies, the USA was exhausted and disinclined to go to war, and Mexico wasn't a rich enough prize for the price of a real war to anyone but the Mexicans. We have to cheerfully walk right around a bunch of inconvenient road blocks to get all the way to boys in blue fighting the Foreign Legion in fields of saguaros. (Or my favorite, the BOOM<clank> of big ships belching smoke in turquoise waters near pale palm-tree-lined beaches.)

I think the Second Mexican War of 1865-186x makes a much better wargame than a real war. Having said that, I'd love to game it.

Letting the Great War fall apart from mutual exhaustion with no winners would have been a better result.

Wait…. what? That was the result! It was an Entente "victory" by strict legal definition, but the war just sort of ground to a halt in 1918 because nobody involved had enough strength to push all the way to fully crushing anyone else. But that's a different topic…

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2015 6:50 p.m. PST

Earlofwessex, how about a timeline?

We have the attention a lot of interested parties here, including a PhD professor of history with expertise in 19th C. European politics. We could probably refine a plausible-enough series of political and military events to make a fun campaign setting that still suspends disbelief.

My first blush:

  • Napoleon III gets his garde mobile earlier than in history and uses slick horse-trading political maneuvers around Europe to get his troops out of Rome, and uses the "extra" troops at his disposal to back his position in Mexico. (This deserves a dissertation to explain properly… don't ask me, I don't care enough. grin)
  • Johnson leads the War Party to get a declaration of war through Congress, and orders Grant to begin hostilities, preparation of which were of course already under way.
  • In 1866 Sheridan jumps off, waging a lightning campaign that marches most of the way through Mexico, usually defeating royalist field armies but suffering some setbacks when confronted by seasoned professional French forces. The US Navy assists in capturing and holding ports – Tampico, Veracruz, Coatzacoalcos. They trap a significant Maximilian force (including most of the non-French forces) in Mexico city and start to besiege it.
  • The shrinking Franco-Mexican army starts to put up increased resistance to the push south, as it concentrates into a smaller geographic area with a lot of wild areas, but supply becomes a serious problem for them and collapse looks imminent.
  • Napoleon III's navy suddenly captures Veracruz with an irresistable force of ironclads and battleships, defeating a significant American fleet, and landing French reinforcements. Veracruz quickly becomes a major port fortress and supply depot with a lot of very modern artillery.
  • A large French army fights it's way from Veracruz to Mexico City and breaks the siege.
  • The US push to the south grinds to a halt while forces are sent north to contain the threat.
  • The French begin fortifying Isla del Carmen into an impregnable naval base to cement French presence in the region, and uses overwhelming force to capture the ports on the Gulf coast one by one, denying them to the American army and opening supply routes to Franco-royalist armies in the field.
  • A see-saw campaign begins. The French are supplied from Europe through Gulf coast ports, the US starts bringing supplies to the Pacific coast of Mexico by a circuitous route by rail to California then by ship to Puerto Vallarata and Mazatlan. The USA controls the north, France and the royalists control the south.
  • In mid-1867 both sides are effectively stalemated. Napoleon III can't commit too many more forces to Mexico because the Prussian threat is looming, and the USA is just war-weary, embroiled in Reconstruction and occupation of the US southern states, and simply can't tolerate Mexico being any more than a small side show. Both sides commit plenty of naval forces, but the huge French naval units own the open oceans and the teeming American naval units own the coasts and rivers. French and American cargo ships disappear from the world's oceans – American trade is carried in European ships (mostly British), while Italian and Dutch cities become rich on transshipping French cargoes in non-French holds.
  • A French naval expedition captures New Orleans in a surprise attack, but this backfires and Britain threatens to join the US, so peace negotiations begin. The peace treaty has all major armies leave the country, except the French get to keep Isla del Carmen as a regional base, and the US gets a concession to build a base near Tampico, where Puerto de Altamira in Taumalipas is today.

There are some ways to draw this out:

  1. Assume the "see saw" war lasts a few years, with insufficient commitments by either side to force a decision, and governments in Britain, Italy and the Netherlands supporting the war while getting rich on the trade goods of the belligerents.
  2. The war "ends" in an uneasy peace in 1867, but a proxy war simmers with the US supporting the rebels and the French supporting the royalists and Maximilian, with the potential to heat up again into open conflict (or at least armed raids) when Napoleon must try again to rescue Maximilian (or his replacement puppet).

I would assume the only way the US would pull out completely would be upon the capture/death of Maximilian and enough of his royalist supporters to guarantee the subsequent ascendency of an anti-French Republic of Mexico. In any case it's all over by 1870 when the Franco-Prussian war gets under way.

- Ix

KTravlos21 Sep 2015 4:23 a.m. PST

That is not a bad scenario and timeline.

That said, let me say this. Assume that Napoleon III decides to go to war with the US. I think the effort required would greatly move the weight of French foreign policy (i.e Napoleon IIIs opportunism) from Europe to the Americas. There may very well not be a Franco-Prussian War. The end might be the same story, a tired France overthrowing its emperor, but not FPW.

At the start I think the following alternative would increase the probability of a war

Story: A conservative victory early on in the war with French help. One that leads to a Republican but conservative regime that is very tied to Napoleon. Mayhaps one that begins negotiations for a French Prince for a Mexican throne. Napoleon then uses his Mexican proxies to support the CSA, with maybe even "volunteers" surging into the Trans-Mississippi theater. CSA still loses but Franco-Mexican support makes the Civil War last to 1866 or 1867, and creates the requisite popular support for war in the USA.

I think that Mexican Conservative as opposed to Maximilian Conservative government would be a more willing proxy for Napoleon III.

Another more convoluted scenario

Story:Conservative victory in Mexico, with Maximiliano at its head. Maximilian chaffs under French pressure. French attempt coup. Maximilian asks for US help to expel them.

I do think this war does not happen in any scenario in which Juarez and Maximilian cut a deal (IMHO the best possible history for Mexico) and create a Liberal Empire. I can see this pair pushing the French out. Maybe asking US support. A lot would demand on how much support a conservative coup would have against Maximilian-Juarez.

I think that the most possible scenario is the Early Conservative Victory in Mexico-No Maximilian-Support for CSA by France and Mexico- Longer US Civil War- Popular resentment against France in the US-Napoleon III pivots his foreign policy to the Americas (maybe more active involvement in the Paraguayan War as well)

The only issue is how do we get France to support the war. The French public is kind indifferent to the opportunism of Napoleon III. I think that maybe he uses the war, and another Bonaparte crown as the pound of flesh for accepting a full change of the Imperial Regime to a Representative Constitutional Monarchy. I.e the war against the US is the price paid by French liberals for Constitutional reform.

Murvihill21 Sep 2015 9:55 a.m. PST

I think you're overestimating the capabilities of the French Navy. Remember, Napoleon isn't going to send his entire navy 5500 miles away from home, more likely he'll send less than half. Also supplies will be a big issue for them and the size of their fleet. BTW, the Union navy had 11 ocean-going monitors built or on the ways during the Civil War, so the French don't necessarily rule the field in a US-French war in Mexico.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2015 3:09 p.m. PST

I think you're overestimating the capabilities of the French Navy.

You might be right. We should wargame it to find out. grin
Remember, Napoleon isn't going to send his entire navy 5500 miles away from home, more likely he'll send less than half.

In fact, even half the French fleet would be way too much force to send to the opposite hemisphere, especially for a sideshow like the emperor's private Mexican adventure. I was assuming France would send only detachments, and recall large units to Europe after their usefulness in the theater was over.

However, the Americans are also not going to have a tremendous portion of the navy in Mexico. Keep in mind that back then the US tended to ramp down the military with reckless speed after every war. I don't know how many ships were actually kept post-ACW, but I imagine a lot of the units serving in the war were pretty rough after extended hard war service, and many built for the war effort were of sketchy construction to begin with. I can't honestly say (yet) how much the littoral and riverine forces shrank in the year after Appomattox.

Whatever the answer to that question, the majority of US naval units would be tasked with protecting thousands of miles of US coastline, so the US Gulf Squadron would initially be a powerful detachment of American ships capable of getting themselves there, keeping station at sea for weeks at a time, and assisting American shore operations. The logical choices for such a mission would be a few frigates, a few sloops, a bunch of ocean-capable gunboats, and a handful of the largest ironclads. Each base of operations captured in Mexico would be garrisoned with some coastal and/or riverine forces (monitors, gunboats, etc.), but not until weeks or months after the blue-water fleet has helped the army take the port.

For the sake of a good wargaming story I assume the French sagely anticipate having to recapture a port in American hands by the time they get the reinforcement army for Mexico ready to sail, and so send a fleet big enough to do the job. The French were perfectly capable of mustering such a fleet, since they had been in a naval arms race with Britain for a few centuries and kept a lot more fleet around than their size or economy really justified. A large operational squadron for a far away station like the Gulf of Mexico would have about a half dozen ocean-going ironclads and about 2 dozen steam frigates, corvettes, sloops, etc. I assume they send a squadron of a dozen or more steam battleships along to assist in the (re)capture of a naval base and to establish dominance at sea.

The primary French strategic goal is going to be guaranteeing a supply port and navy base. Veracruz is the most obvious choice, so above I posit that the US captures it as soon as feasible. However, considering how far south it is, I assume this will happen months after the opening of hostilities, since a well-defended Veracruz probably can't be captured by seaborne invasion alone. The French would be hurrying to get their reinforcement army into Mexico before the hurricane season starts in June, further compressing the time scale of the capture-and-recapture narrative. This all allows us to assume the American capture of Veracruz takes a long time to effect, and there hasn't been time to properly fortify the port. If we also assume the American Gulf Squadron is somewhat attenuated by continuing coastal operations (taking/keeping more ports out of French hands) and by the inevitable outbreaks of Yellow fever, malaria and dysentary, we can conveniently assume that the above French fleet arrives in Veracruz to find a weaker American fleet, some ad-hoc shore batteries and as much of the existing fortifications as could be repaired after the retreating French blew them up. Not a cake-walk, but a guaranteed victory nonetheless.

I admit to stretching plausability with some convenient assumptions (esp. regarding French efficiency at organizing a major trans-Atlantic expedition), but I don't believe my phony timeline is a complete fairy tale.

BTW, the Union navy had 11 ocean-going monitors built or on the ways during the Civil War, so the French don't necessarily rule the field in a US-French war in Mexico.

I know of 7 ocean-going ironclads in operation or refit after the ACW (4x Miantonomohs, New Ironsides, Galena, and Dictator) and 5 rotting incomplete on the ways (4x Kalamazoos and Puritan). I've never researched this topic before, so I'd have to dig in to refine my estimates. Did I miss any?

New Ironsides and Galena were true ocean-going ships, but the Miantonomohs and Dictator still had pretty low freeboard, so would be of little military value (or even a liability) in tall seas. Most French ironclads were armored frigates, and quite capable of dealing with severe weather.

The Kalamazoos would probably take a good part of a year to complete and the Puritan would need a few months of repairs and "working up" before going abroad, so I assume these wouldn't be available for Gulf service until 1867 (they'd probably be operational in 1866, but not in time to get on station in the Gulf before hurricane season starts in June).

I think it's safe to assume the US Navy would send about half the operational ocean-going ironclads (3-4) to the Gulf, and keep the others on the Eastern seaboard for defense.

Meanwhile, the US still had zillions of coastal and river ironclads and shallow-draft gunboats. I assume most of these would be kept guarding US coastal cities and estuaries, with small squadrons of them coming to the Mexican coast as bases are established there. These would be exceedingly dangerous to French coastal shipping traffic, and capable of occasional raids on French ports, but not really capable of interdicting French supply routes in the open ocean.

So far, I still stand by my appraisal that the French navy is way more powerful at sea, but would be unable to match the US littoral or riverine capabilities in the time frame of a Franco-American war in Mexico (unless it drags out for years).

Also supplies will be a big issue for them and the size of their fleet.

This is an excellent point, and a very difficult issue to appraise. I don't know how the French were feeding around 30,000 troops up to 1866. Mexico must have been less productive in the midst of a civil war, and it was never a very productive agricultural area to begin with. Filling the country with another 100k soldiers and 20-40k sailors of both sides would make supply a critical operational factor. And probably starve a lot of peasants. :-(

My assumption would be that steam battleships would probably go back to Europe before the hurricane season started, as this is what happened in Age of Sail Caribbean fleet ops. Each ship of the line added around a thousand hungry mouths to feed who would be no help in coastal operations or escort duties, so they wouldn't come back unless there was a reason to bring a huge amount of firepower into the theater. OTOH, a steam battleship would make an excellent source of guns for fortifications, replacement sailors, and a hull for transport duty. The French were already decommissioning wooden battleships by this time as they built more ironclads, so occasionally decommissioning one in theater by re-using all its parts for new purposes would make good sense.

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2015 1:49 a.m. PST

Meanwhile, back ashore…

What rules would you use for fighting battles in this hypothetical war?

My first thought was to use Fire and Fury (agonizing my way to the right mods, or just use Age of Valor when it comes out). It's designed for the period, easy to play/teach/modify, and the ground scale allows nice big battlefields that can include whole towns on the table.

However, most of the battles of the Second French Intervention period were small and would be better handled with battalions as maneuver units. While a full Franco-American war in Mexico would bring in a lot more troops, Mexico is a big country and I bet they'd only rarely be concentrated into corps or multi-corps armies; the campaign(s) around the Veracruz-Mexico City region might involve tens of thousands on each side, but most battles outside that region would probably be much smaller, more like Regimental Fire & Fury size. I like RF&F, but it's not as popular, and slower to play. One of these days I may figure out how to make it play faster, but for now I lack experienced players.

Next month I'm going to give Rank and File a try for the first time. I'm a little skeptical, but we'll see.

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2015 2:25 a.m. PST

Assume that Napoleon III decides to go to war with the US. I think the effort required would greatly move the weight of French foreign policy (i.e Napoleon IIIs opportunism) from Europe to the Americas. There may very well not be a Franco-Prussian War. The end might be the same story, a tired France overthrowing its emperor, but not FPW.

That's an interesting statement. I thought the FPW was as much about Bismark's opportunism as anything else. You really think he wouldn't have sought a cassus belli against a weakened and distracted Napoleon?

I think you're right about the shift of gravity, though, and I suspect that's exactly why Napoleon III pulled out of Mexico instead of ramping up his commitment. He was overstretched in his own hemisphere and felt he had to consolidate.

Story:Conservative victory in Mexico, with Maximiliano at its head. Maximilian chaffs under French pressure. French attempt coup. Maximilian asks for US help to expel them.

That's a fun and twisted idea, but where does it leave Jaurez? He was a committed and natural enemy of any form of monarchy, even with a liberal monarch like Maximilian. I'm not sure he would ever agree to form a Liberal Empire, because that would mean giving up power, and it doesn't sound like he liked to do that. Surely he wouldn't ally with the French…

- Ix

KTravlos22 Sep 2015 7:44 a.m. PST


On the first point.Napoleon got into the war because he refocused in Europe. If he is focused elsewhere harder to get ensnared. I am sure Bismarck could find a different opportunity for German Unification. It may be very well that Napoleon III does not care about Germany if he is fighting the US.

Essentially Napoleon had no issue with German Unification as long as he got some kind of compensation for it (this is a guy stuck in the 18th century when it came to diplomacy). Spain, Belgium and what have you not played those roles. But if he is stuck in Mexico fighting the Americans he might be less willing or caring to demand compensation for tolerating Birthmark's successes. Hell Otto might be able to use this to get Napoleon to even be more tolerating (german arms and capital to finance the war). True, Bishmark will need something else to use as an excuse to eat up the Southern German states. But I am sure he would find something.

On the second: In this story Juarez is either dead or in exile in the US. He has been defeated decisively.

KTravlos22 Sep 2015 7:46 a.m. PST



My opinion is that when I am trying what if scenarios I prefer to fist built army lists and scenarios using Neil Thomas 19th century rules. These are simple and force me to think about what makes the two forces different.

After that I move to Black Powder, Big Bloody Battles or even Altar of Freedom (from my favorite rules systems).

mashrewba22 Sep 2015 10:24 a.m. PST

I can't imagine French morale would be high in such a conflict -a long way from home, fighting a tough army and presumably Mexican guerillas and for what?
Sounds like the Peninsular War all over again and that didn't turn out so well for them…

KTravlos22 Sep 2015 2:10 p.m. PST

which leads me to the the plausibility of story 1

"Story: A conservative victory early on in the war with French help. One that leads to a Republican but conservative regime that is very tied to Napoleon. Mayhaps one that begins negotiations for a French Prince for a Mexican throne. Napoleon then uses his Mexican proxies to support the CSA, with maybe even "volunteers" surging into the Trans-Mississippi theater. CSA still loses but Franco-Mexican support makes the Civil War last to 1866 or 1867, and creates the requisite popular support for war in the USA."

If the US during the 1864-1866 period detains french ships, if there are some naval clashes, etc, and if the US attacks or bullies Mexico in 1866, Napoleon III might be able to present this as a war to protect French rights, honor, and a weak catholic country from a protestant bully. In that case there may be popularity to the war.

KTravlos23 Sep 2015 9:29 a.m. PST

So I guess next point is to create some plausible orders of battle for a potential battle. Maybe start small with a US or French attempt to outflank a river fort, which leads to a pitched battle?

Tango0123 Sep 2015 11:21 a.m. PST

Don't forget the mexicans troops… (smile)

"…At its inception in October of 1863 the Mexican Imperial Army was comprised of six battalions of infantry, six squadrons of cavalry, one scout squadron, one artillery company and an invalid corps in the regular army with came to a total of 7,000 men. In the auxiliary forces were ten infantry battalions, twelve cavalry squadrons, a battery of field artillery, a section of mountain howitzers, a total of 3,800 men and some 2,300 addition auxiliary forces in eleven smaller units.

A regiment of Imperial Guards was also authorized and in the process of forming at that time. The army grew fast and by the summer of 64 the Mexican Imperial Army had grown to 19,437 men. By the following year (1865) Emperor Maximilian had his own general staff and reorganized his army which consisted of 12 infantry battalions of the line, 2 light infantry battalions, 6 cavalry regiments, 12 companies of presidial cavalry, 1 battalion of field artillery consisting of six batteries, 1 artillery regiment of 4 mountain batteries and 4 batteries of horse artillery, a corps of engineers with a battalion of the elite sappers (zapadores), an administrative corps of medical, supply train and other support personnel, a Gendarmerie legion and a company of the elite Palatine Guard. The official establishment for this army was 1,164 officers and 22,374 regulars.

Because of the nature of the war the Imperial Army was often not what it was supposed to be on paper. Battalions which were supposed to consist of 800 men often had less than 400 and in October of 1865 the total strength of the army was reported to be 7,658 regulars, 9,432 auxiliaries and 12,263 rural militia and gendarmeries for a total force of some 29,353 men…"


And how if we added some British too? (smile)


Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2015 3:26 p.m. PST

Armand (Tango01) also posted this link to this nice outline of the actual events in the Maximilian Adventure. It's too brief and doesn't connect all the dots, but it's a good starting framework.

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2015 3:50 p.m. PST

No British! If the British come in, they support the Americans, and the French lose too fast. This has to be a limited war, or it doesn't make a good wargame setting with pitched battles and armies of division size and up.

I'm thinking that the initial declaration of war by the US Congress should not even be against France, but rather some bombastic misdirection like "against the Austrian usurper and tyrant Maximilian currently styling himself Emperor of Mexico, currently occupying the capital of the legitimately elected Mexican government and oppressing the people of Mexico, and all his foreign supporters illegally residing in the sovereign state of Mexico blah blah blah…". The intent being to leave France and the European adventurers supporting Maximilian the option to leave without having to start a full war.

The French emperor and parliament would also be inclined to slant the conflict this way, because the first belligerent to suffer an armed incursion on a coastal city will suffer a rapid rise in political pressure to end the war immediately. Neither the French nor American people really wanted to be at war. The French parliament will only let Napoleon have his little sideshow war if he can keep it confined to Mexico.

- Ix

KTravlos24 Sep 2015 5:10 a.m. PST

Here is my write up about the war with potential initial forces at the disposal of the combatants. Remember this is all hypothetical, indeed sometimes implausible.


With Respect

Tango0124 Sep 2015 11:19 a.m. PST

Quite interesting KTavlos!.


Tango0124 Sep 2015 11:24 a.m. PST

Some years ago… I remember making a translation from french of some "secret papers" from Napoleon III about a possible invasion by French troops in support of the Confederation.
By memory … … it was a corps of about 35,000 men, of whom mostly were veteran French troops and the rest Mexican regulars … then the reinforcements by Mexicans would be much higher …. but unfortunately I don't remember the title of the thread.


Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2015 2:27 p.m. PST

Thank you, Mr. Travlos, that is very well written and holds together well.

I like the OOB. How much of the American, French and Imperial OOBs are based on units actually in theater or ready for it?

I feel completely out of my depth arguing with a trained political scientist, but I have three problems with your timeline:

  1. I think an openly declared Franco-American War would grow too big.
  2. I count Emperor Maximilian as a requirement to the scenario, not an option. You have excellent reasons for excluding him, but he's so absurd that even his actual history reads like fiction, and he is the purple anchor to the rainbow of characters that make the Mexican Adventure so interesting.
  3. I personally need to leave the ACW alone. Alternate-history ACW is a whole different species of animal I prefer to leave in a separate section of the zoo.

If Napoleon took France to war, I think Britain and Prussia would help the US side, maybe in open conflict, maybe only in politically safer material ways. A solely Franco-American conflict is already too close to call; with major powers helping the US, it's a certain French loss, maybe not a fun wargame, and certainly not confined to Mexico. My preference is to make US involvement in the Mexican Adventure a proxy war with France. A proxy war nicely puts a ceiling on the involvement of both great powers.

I totally buy your position that Juárez is in the way of the war, but I don't think we have to neutralize him so early (1863ish). If he's captured in May 1865 when Bezaine has the Republican forces cornered against the Rio Grande, the subsequent fracturing of Republican resistance can be the final straw that catalyzes US involvement. An active Juárez at large was so effective he negated the need for US troops in Mexico; a dead Juárez is a tough future to figure out; but an imprisoned Juárez awaiting a public show trial and execution in Mexico City (along with some key cabinet members and Republican generals) might fracture the Republican cause and put even more pressure on the US to jump off and rescue it. Well, that's my crackpot hypothesis anyway.

People who have just finished a long war are disinclined to start another, but less afraid to use violence to save what they've been fighting for, so a fractious Congress arguing about Reconstruction could probably still agree to take action against European powers in their back yard, as long as the Johnson administration can keep it cheap and outside the US borders. A blockade, a rapid invasion to topple Maximilian, and along the way show the French (and other European adventurers) a thing or two about how Americans fight so they run back to Europe and don't come back. Should be over in a season, maybe two. So the argument goes…

Napoleon also needs to keep involvement cheap and scaled down, so he can continue to play the Queen on the European political chessboard. An Imperial triumph over Juárez in 1865 could already have him thinking about pulling out, but it's fun to assume that this puts him so close to his original goals in Mexico that a sudden US punitive expedition causes him to double down to protect his investment. Being an arrogant aristocrat with arrogant aristocratic advisors, he's going to believe his superb professional French units can kick the tar out of an ill-disciplined citizen army, and therefore believe that sending French reinforcements to Mexico will easily drive the Americans back to Texas. In the meantime, such a move will also blood his newer units, and give him time to fund more Imperial Mexican Army units of foreign adventurers (like the Belgians, Austrians, Sudanese, etc. already there). This exit strategy retains the prize he's been angling for, lets him get his French units out of the Mexican theater entirely in a year or three, and siphons European adventurers into a far away place where they won't be fighting against him or his colonial forces anymore. So the argument goes…

I'm going to assume that it takes time for the US buildup to an invasion, and since the catalyzing events don't happen until May-June 1865, the US waits until at least December so they can send the navy down to blockade, invade, and deliver supplies without exposure to hurricanes (the Caribbean/Gulf storm season is June-November). January 1866 is a convenient date for an invasion, and gives plenty of time for a proper buildup before jump-off.

Meanwhile, Napoleon would see the buildup happening, and have time to organize his reinforcement effort against it, but wouldn't be able to safely insert it until after the storm season. Again, having it ready by early 1866 seems a convenient pause for such an effort to gather. Since the French navy was not on a war footing, it's reasonable to delay departure of a sizable squadron for Mexico until February 1866 to achieve my campaign narrative: the US jumps off, captures Veracruz in a seaborne invasion, and marches through the interior with a large army of well-supplied veterans, knocking Imperial army forces out of the way repeatedly until it's in the region of Mexico city. That is when the French reinforcements arrive and unexpectedly retake Veracruz (which is by this time in the American rear), and now we have a very fun see-saw campaign story with an open ending.

- Ix

KTravlos24 Sep 2015 3:53 p.m. PST

Well Ix as i said this is my little alternative story, and yours is just as good. More options for players. Let me address some issues though that you were helpful enough to raise (2) and 3) are matters of choice or preference so I leave them to their peace)

1)"I think an openly declared Franco-American War would grow too big."-> I disagree. First of all there is an upper limit to the forces both sides can readily deploy in the war. Yes long-term the US could deploy much more than France, but short term, and considering French naval power in the Gulf Area (which in my scenario is there already by 1866) Sheridan Army and the Army of the Gulf might be what the US has available. Consider also the minimalist goals of the two sides. They are not incompatible.So the main function of the fighting will be to deny maximalist goals. My own opinion (And second blog post) would be that this should be reached in one or two campaigns. There is no need for larger force on either side, simply because the political conditions do not permit them. A early defeat of either side will probably bring them to the negotiating table.

"If Napoleon took France to war, I think Britain and Prussia would help the US side, maybe in open conflict, maybe only in politically safer material ways. A solely Franco-American conflict is already too close to call; with major powers helping the US, it's a certain French loss, maybe not a fun wargame, and certainly not confined to Mexico."

Not really. This is 1866 and Otto von Bishmark is busy with Germany. Any French diversion from there is welcome for him. Indeed a French diversion to Mexico, might lead the UK and Russia taking a more active part in the Austro-Prussian War. So not much opposition from Otto to Louis going amok in Mexico.

Ditto for the UK. Don't forget the UK kinda helped the French get this rolling, and they did nothing to stop them, when they could had done so early on. They still probably believe the US can take care of this, and hey if those French ships are on the other side of the world getting pounded, John Bull has no issue with it.

"A solely Franco-American conflict is already too close to call; with major powers helping the US, it's a certain French loss" It really depends on what Louis Napoleon is trying to do. If you read between the lines of my story you can probably guess that the Republic of Texas is a future sacrificial lamb. If he has control of Texas he can sacrifice it to the US for recognition of his Mexican position. I actually do not think that this is an impossible plan, though yes it will be hard to pull off.

But remember in my scenario the French are much more ready for the war. They already have a strong naval presence in the region, and their army is better prepared. So for me the operational aspect especially between the French Army and the two US armies is the key to a good wargame. I am primarilly a BBB/ AoF person so asymmetrical battles and campaigns are a-ok.

"Being an arrogant aristocrat with arrogant aristocratic advisors, he's going to believe his superb professional French units can kick the tar out of an ill-disciplined citizen army"

Now I have to take issue for this. For starters Napoleon III had such a career that such an attitude would be alien to him. He was vainglorious, he was a bit arrogant, but he also was a political animal extraordinare who survived multiple failed attempts to overthrow the French regimes. He was man who had rubbed shoulders with Carbonari, Radicals and revolutionaries of every class etc. Hell he broke the Vienna System :p So I think you are exaggerating things here and underestimating him. But even if you want to say this, remember that the men in command in Mexico, Bazaine is as far from this caricature as possible.

No Sheridan (and whoever commanded the Army of the Gulf) would be facing people who take soldiering seriously, and many veterans. I am not going to say that they have as much experience with large formation operations, but these are not men who underestimate their foe (forget the FPW, the Imperial Leadership collectively had kinda given up by 1870, seeing how the political trends in France were going. These are not the same people).

The OOB are bases partly on what was available and partly on what I think is plausible.

For the Army of the Republic of Texas, my thought was towards a small mobile force of Confederate remnants. By the way I found my President of Texas, Louis Wigfall. The kind of guy who would not give up. I just need some officers (thought about Forrest, but he seems to had been ready to make peace in 1865). So about 4000-5000 men veterans of the Trans-Missisipi Theater. If the French are successful in the early parts of their campaigns, I can see it growing.

For the Army of the Republic of Mexico (Junta under Miramon) I essentially went for a middle ground between the pre-1861 Meixcan army, and the forces raised by the French. Essentially 3 Infantry Divisions and a Cavalry Brigade. CnC is probably going to be Thomas Meija.

For the French forces I went for a mix of the type of units actually used, and what I think Napoleon III would send if he decided to get serious about this. These are generally units that the Mteropolitan French establishment would not care to see in Mexico.So the Army of Africa, plus the Voltiquer division of the Guard, and the Naval Division (which makes sense as Vera Cruz is now a major naval base for France). CnC is Bazzaine,but I will have to think for other French leaders.

This is probably the upper limit of a French deployment in Mexico in my scenario.

For the US we have the concentration of forces that were initially the closest to Mexico, so the Army of the Gulf. The other army is the historical units Sheridan took with him when he confronted the French. However if I were to break down these forces, I think in my alternative reality they will essentially be a core of veteran US troops (US Regulars and USCT) and new volunteers who have joined just for this war (this makes I think a much more interesting wargame scenario). I do not think conscription survives the day after the end of the US Civil War.

My next post will describe what operational plans the two sides would probably formulate in the immediate theater of operations with their political goals in mind. However how the war turns out, I leave that to the players. I probably will start with OBBs for Altar of Freedom which is a simpler (but rich)game and thus can give a good first stab.

And please do not hesitate to enrich your own version of this story.

KTravlos24 Sep 2015 4:03 p.m. PST

What I can use help with is Commanders for the formations.

Essentially as things stand in my scenario you have

1 Texan Inf/Cav Division
1 Mexican Corps of
3 Mexican Divisions
1 Cav Brigade

3 French Corps of
7 Infantry Divisions
3 Cavalry Divisions


5-6 US Corps of
12-16 US Inf. DiV
2 Cavalry Div.

So I need 10-11 potential corp/army commanders (1 Texan (Wigall?), 1 Mexican (Meija?), 3 French, 5-6 USA)

KTravlos25 Sep 2015 3:12 a.m. PST

Here is part II of my story


Thinking about commanders, I wonder if Jubal Early would make sense as the Texan Comamnder. By the way if you have a campaign game system, why not give this one a try?

49mountain25 Sep 2015 12:59 p.m. PST

Remember, the toops first sent to Texas were all veterans. The 4th Corps and the 25th Corps had both seen significant action during the ACW. The cavalry divisions sent to Texas were Custer's and Merritt's. Again veterans. The U.S. did not demobilize their Armies for several months after the war concluded as there were so many men under arms that it took a long time just to process the paperwork. Many Veteran Corps would have been available to the U.S.

KTravlos25 Sep 2015 2:35 p.m. PST

I do not disagree. But by 1865 the 25st corps was exclusevly USCT who I think had diffrent enlistment trrms than volunteer rgiments. The 4th corps is less clear, indeed we are not 100% it was with sheridan. My bet is it was the US regulars and local volunteer regiments.

Beyond that the veteran us corps in the carolinas are not readily avilable for service in texas.I think most od volunteers would be out by 1866 and would have to be replaced by new volunteers. Ergo the mix of green and veteran troops.

Again this is my story and you are free to ignore it. No problems.

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