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The Union Forever

"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address (1865).
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Until Every Drop of Blood is Paid: A More Radical American Civil War, by Red_Galiray, is an Alternate History timeline on AlternateHistory.com. A pro-slavery fanatic changes history when he decides to murder Lyman Trumbull, the Illinois politician who was elected to the Senate over Abraham Lincoln in 1854. Now a Senator, Abraham Lincoln arrives to a Washington where tensions between the North and the South are increasing each day. Thrust into the frontlines of the irrepressible conflict, Lincoln's views start to evolve and change faster than in our world. Little changes start to pile up, leading to a different, bloodier, and more radical American Civil War.

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  • Affectionate Nickname: Breckinridge is affectionately called "Johnny Breck" by Confederate soldiers and civilians; some Yankees use it in a despective manner, however. Other nicknames include "Marse Lee" for Robert E. Lee, "Father Abraham" or "Uncle Abe" for Abraham Lincoln, and "Little Mac" for George McClellan.
  • A Father to His Men: Lee to the Army of Northern Virginia. Also,McClellan to the Army of the Susquehanna previous to the Peninsula Disaster. Although they are not commanders on the field, both Breckinridge and Lincoln project a fatherly image to their troops. Breckinridge for example refers to the Confederate soldiers as "my brave boys" and Lincoln is called "Father Abraham".
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Allegations of alcoholism are levied almost constantly against General Grant. Truth in Television, taking into account his Real Life struggles with alcohol. The author tends to point out that many of these accusations were in fact false, made up by political and military enemies.
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    • Confederate President Breckinridge is also said to "love the bottle", but his alcoholism is not really explored. The closest is an accusation by General Bragg.
    • Stephen A. Douglas, the "Little Giant", was a great alcoholic both within this story and in real life. He drank himself to death in 1861 in our timeline, but managed to hold on for a few months within this story, dying just before the 1862 elections. Unlike Grant or Breckinridge, he doesn't seem ashamed by his alcoholism, and no one seems to care about it.
  • And This Is for...: The Union soldiers chant "Chambersburg!" as Stonewall Jackson's Corps is routed in the “Miracle of Manchester” during the final day of the battle of Union Mills.
  • Anti-Climax: In November 1863, the long-awaited offensive in Georgia begins. Soldiers on both sides are excitedly talking about the upcoming decisive battle at the heights of Dalton. On November 17th, the battle lines are formed and the bands begin playing to raise morale... and the battle's over. Unable to outflank Johnston through the Snake Creek Gap due to muddy roads and seeing the defensive potential of the Dalton heights, Union General Thomas breaks off the action and decides to wait for spring 1864 for the next offensive. On the other side, Confederate General Joseph Johnston loses his nerve and actually plans to evacuate in the event of an attack. Thus, the commanders on both sides practically agree not to fight a major battle.
  • Ascended Extra: Breckinridge goes from a relatively minor Confederate general to the leader of the rebellion. Similarly, John F. Reynolds goes from a corps commander who is famous for dying at Gettysburg to one of the premier Union Generals.
  • Asshole Victim: While one might sympathize with the New York rioters over their resistance to the draft, it's hard to feel sympathy for them after they start murdering African-Americans and burning down police stations, Federal buildings and Republican newspaper offices, mugging people on the street, and invading homes and businesses.
    • The Confederates as a whole. Though their sufferings and sacrifice are described in detail, it's hard to sympathize with them given that they are fighting for slavery and White Supremacy. The author points out often that their cause is fundamentally wrong, though they are not portrayed as cartoonishly evil either.
  • Awesome, but Impractical :
    • Gattling guns. Though prototipes exist, and some were even used during the New York riots, they are not easy to produce and are still rather ineffective, preventing their large scale use by the Union Armies.
    • The Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia manages to strike terror into the Union Navy, but these early ironclads are slow, curbersome and very difficult to make. The Confederacy, as a result, is unable to build more than a handful of ironclads, mainly due to lack of iron, while the Union makes mostly river ironclads.
  • Back from the Brink: After the Union loses Washington DC, every battle thereafter either pushes back the Confederacy or holds their already tenuous ground.
  • Batman Gambit: After fighting with Confederate General A.S. Johnston for more than a year, Union General U.S. Grant gets a good grasp of A.S. Johnston's generalship. In preparation for another Vicksburg campaign, Grant leaks a false version of his plans and launches offensives away from Vicksburg. General A.S. Johnston comes to the conclusion that Grant has given up on seizing Vicksburg - exactly as Grant expected.
  • Bayonet Ya:
    • True to the time period, bayonet charges make an appearance, most prominently, at the "Miracle of Manchester" where the 54th Massachusetts leads the charge to rout Stonewall Jackson's Corps. Other instances include the Beauregard's counterattack at Herring's Run, Chamberlain's at Bull Run, Grant's assault at Jackson.
    • Outside of the battlefield, Union soldiers are described as using bayonets to assault the barricades erected by the New York and Baltimore rioters.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The fact that many Confederates and Yankees initially welcomed the possibility of war is explored, but soon enough both sides realized that War Is Hell.
  • Big Bad: Lincoln to the Confederates and Breckinridge to the Unionists. As such, terms like "Lincolnite troops" or "the Breckinridge insurrection" abound.
  • Big Good: Lincoln to the Unionists and Breckinridge to the Confederates. More specifically, Breckinridge is seen as the champion of the Southern poor against the greedy slaveowning aristocracy.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • James, the protagonist of the side-story "A Kentucky Boy", loses his innocence and is unable to help the contrabands or some of the men who deserted alongside him. But he's alive and still willing to fight, and we know his Army is ultimately victorious over the rebels.
    • Henry, the slave boy of the side story "The Year of Jubilee comes to Maryland", obtains freedom and education thanks to the Union Army. Yet, he's lost many friends due to the cruel war.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Within the guerrilla war, the Unionist guerrillas can be just as bloodthirsy and brutal as their Confederate counterparts. However, most of the time they target other guerrillas and slave-holders, while the Confederate guerrillas are indiscriminate in their brutality. Ultimately, the Confederate guerrillas will always be worse because they are fighting for slavery and White Supremacy, while the Unionist guerrillas are, at least in theory, fighting for Union and Liberty.
  • Blood on the Debate Floor: The infamous attack on Charles Sumner by Preston Brooks is plot point. Lincoln tries to stop the brawl, only for a Southern politician prevent him from intervening at gun point. This plays a role in Lincoln's increasing radicalization.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Many Confederate soldiers are forced to resort to old smoothbore muskets due to the South's industrial weakness.
  • The Butcher: Confederate guerillas and raiders gain a notoriety for murdering and even scalping Unionists and unarmed Northern soldiers as well as freed slaves. William Quantrill and his raiders massacred “182 men and boys and burned 185 buildings in Lawrence” while his pupil, Bloody Bill Anderson, murdered unarmed Union soldiers in furlough, and then slaughtered 124 of the 147 militiamen sent to pursue, including the wounded.
  • Butterfly of Doom: The death of one man, Lyman Trumbull, leds to a much bloodier Civil War, and with it a lot more of suffering. Downplayed, in that the Timeline is explicitely said to lead to a more egalitarian United States at the end.
  • Butt-Monkey: McClellan is the closest example. While he isn't openly mocked, it's clear the author has a rather negative view of him. As a result, he's portrayed as an arrogant, cowardly, and racist commander, who ends up suffering the worst defeat of the Union at the Peninsula, where he losses close to half of his Army. The author does try to point out how certain decisions made sense at the time, but ultimately McClellan comes out across as an incompetent idiot.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Justified. The Democratic Party (While they still exist) is more often referred to as the Northern Democracy rather than the Democratic Party, as was the convention of the time period. This also hints to the complete separation of the Democratic Party following the Lecompton debacle and the admission of Kansas as a Slave State.
    • The National Union/Chesnuts are basically Democrats under another name.
    • The Army of the Susquehanna is basically the Army of the Potomac under another name.
  • Capital Offensive: The Eastern Theater pretty much boils down to this.
    • From the start of the war to July 1862, Washington D.C. is the main target of the Eastern Theater. The Confederates manage to seize Washington D.C. before the U.S. Army can move in enough troops to defend it. Instead of folding, the North is galvanized by the Fall of Washington and three bloody offensives eventually retake Washington D.C. and Maryland.
    • From then on, the fighting in the Eastern Theater shifts to the area around Richmond, the Confederacy's capital. The first offensive, the Peninsular Campaign, becomes a disaster, which spells the end for McClellan's career. As the war progresses, the strategy shifts from capturing to Richmond to destroying the Army of Northern Virginia, though Richmond remains a key goal.
  • The Cavalry:
    • During the Battle of Liberty, to the surprise of both Union General Grant and Confederate General A.S. Johnston, Union General Rosecrans arrives in the nick of time to launch a surprise attack on Johnston's rear. The sudden intervention allows Grant to encircle and capture half of Johnston's army, including Johnston himself.
    • Confederate guerillas arrive in time to save the 17-year-old Richmond Andrew from Unionist guerillas, but not his mother, sister and the farm.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Some Marylanders try to cast their lot with the Confederacy during Lee's invasion of the North. On the other hand, many Confederates are quick to pledge loyalty to the Union once the Federal Army occupies their states, and are thus seen as this by most rebels.
  • Conscription: As the casualty lists go on and on, both sides resort to conscription to fill the armies though its aim is really to induce men to volunteer than get conscripted. Unsurprisingly, conscription proves to be a point of resistance against both ruling governments. Many men employ various measures to get out of it and government authorities, military forces and even civilians resort to various measures ranging from shaming to violence to induce draft dodgers and deserters to go to the front.
  • Corpse Land: Well, duh! Given that there's a whole war going on, it shouldn't be a surprise that descriptions of a battlefield covered in corpses and wounded soldiers comes up often. A side-story also has James, a Union soldier from Kentucky, march to a raided contraband camp raided by the rebels and finding the mangled corpses of several of the inhabitants strewn across the camp.
  • Death Seeker: By the end of the side-story "A Mississippi Guerrilla​", Richmond Andrew becomes one to an extent. His family are all killed and his family's farm is nothing but ashes. He considers ending it all, but the guerillas talk him of it. Still, there's nothing left but a desire of vengence burning in him.
  • Death by Adaptation: Over the course of the war, several generals who survived in OTL meet their end. Union General McDowell dies after his leg is amputated during the Second Maryland Campaign, Union General McClernand is killed by a bullet to the throat during the fighting for Fort Donelson and Confederate General Hardee is killed during the 1st Vicksburg Campaign. Another significant figure to pass away early is Roger B. Taney, whose heart gives out from the stress of war.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: Confederate General A.S. Johnston uses this tactic at the Battle of Liberty. While keeping Sherman's Corps preoccupied, Johnston lets McPherson's Corps cross the Amite River before unleashing a powerful counterattack to push them into the river. McPherson's slow and cautious advance causes Johnston to spring the trap early. Ultimately, Johnston fails to crush the bridgehead, which is reinforced by C.F. Smith's Corps.
  • Defiant to the End: As in our timeline, John Brown maintains that he did nothing wrong, and that slavery is inherently wrong and must be exterminated through violence if needed. Most Northerners agree, declaring him a "martyr of liberty".
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Downplayed with Jefferson Davis, who goes from the Confederate President in our timeline to the Secretary of War. He remains a very important character nonetheless.
    • Andrew Johnson is another example. He is passed over for the position of Tennessee Military Governor, and, due to the Foregone Conclusion, it's known that he won't become President of the United States even if he does become Vice-President.
  • Determinator:
    • Albert Sydney Johnston, during Grant's Second Vicksburg Campaign. Knowing that his only chance is lifting the siege of Port Hudson, and that its starved garrison won't resist for much longer, he does everything in his power to reach the citadel and defeat his Yankee adversaries. This despite severe setbacks at Jackson and Vicksburg, his bad logistics situation, and numerical inferiority. Nothing will stop Johnston from reaching Port Hudson. Deconstructed, because his insistence leads to a big Confederate defeat at Liberty, Mississippi.
    • On the flipside, Ulysses S. Grant's Determinator personality is emphasized. His failures previous to the war are mentioned, but the author misses no chance to remark that one of Grant's greatest qualities is simply never giving up and trying again no matter how dire the situation may look.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: A favorite of the guerrillas, both Union and Confederate, is executing several men in retaliation for a single murder. For example, the Union General John McNeill executed ten Confederates following the murder of Andrew Allsman.
  • Double Standard: White Southerners lambast the freedmen's preference of cultivating food for their families than cotton as laziness. Black activists quickly point out the hypocrisy of the statement as white men who work only for their own subsistence are lauded as Jeffersonian heroes and self-reliant farmers.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the side-story "A Mississippi Soldier", Jordan Shaw, a USCT soldier of the 24th Mississippi, defends his community's newfound freedom from bloodthirsty guerillas. Though more guerilla raids are a possibility and several comrades are killed, the future seems bright for Shaw and his fellow freedmen.
  • Enemy Mine: Many Southern Unionists are not really sympathetic to African Americans, and most are racists at heart. Nonetheless, many Unionist guerrillas accept Black soldiers and fight to liberate slaves because they think they are better than traitors.
  • Enraged by Idiocy: One of Lincoln's rare moments of anger happens when General McClellan builds a canal without measuring the girth of his ships first. As a result, the canal is too small. The resulting waste of money and time so enrages Lincoln that he actually calls the General to Philadelphia to dress him down.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Breckinridge may be the leader of a rebellion that seeks to maintain millions in bondage and assert White Supremacy, but he genuinely cares for the Southern population and tries to stop Confederate war criminals from massacring Black Union troops.
    • Many Confederates cannot give a hoot about the suffering of Unionists and slaves but the violence committed onto Unionists by Colonel Vincent "Clawhammer" Witcher and the 34th Virginia is so horrifying that they are called "thieves and murderers" by fellow Confederates.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • The supporters of popular sovereingty, like Stephen Douglas and John W. Geary, are willing to tolerate slavery, but they are appalled at seeing racist mobs and President Buchanan override the will of the people of Kansas and force a slavery Constitution on them.
    • Many Northerners are horrifyingly racist, but they still react with outrage to atrocities committed against African Americans, in the guerrilla war or in the Copperhead riots.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Most Confederates cannot conceive of Black soldiers being competent or brave, and as a result treat them with contempt instead of treating them as worthy foes. Due to this the rebels later get a rude awakening at Fort Saratoga and Union Mills.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Due to the Foregone Conclusion, we know that nothing Breckinridge does can result in a Southern victory.
  • Fatal Flaw: McClellan's is his extreme timidity on the battlefield. Completely afraid of defeat, the General prefers to not engage the enemy rather than risk his reputation, this despite his numerical and logistical superiority over his adversaries.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As a Civil War timeline with the explicit goal of a more radical Reconstruction one can guess how its Civil War is going to end. The tension comes most from how the story gets to its premise rather than how it expands from it. Likewise, the author has stated that Lincoln will survive the war, so there is no drama regarding the possibility of him dying.
  • For Want of a Nail: The assassination of Lyman Trumbull leads to a very different and much bloodier American Civil War.
  • General Failure: McClellan is this for the Union, while the Confederacy has Braxton Bragg.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Lincoln and the Republicans are committed to the undoubtedly noble goals of slave emancipation and Black civil rights, but they are willing to wage a bloody war, use illegal and violent methods to stamp out dissent and sedition, and trial traitors to achieve these objectives.
  • Hauled Beforea Senate Subcommittee: The Union had the Joint Committee on the Conduct of War to investigate the military conducts of generals. After the disaster at the Peninsula, McClellan is court-martialed for insubordination and cowardice and investigated by the Committee as to whether or not formal charges were to be levied against him. For the Confederates, Tory senators interview several commanders with the intent of receiving testimonies to depose Secretary of War Jefferson Davis.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Some Unionist partisans, in their quest to defeat the Confederates, have become just as brutal as them, inflicting terror and pain in the (mostly innocent) Southern civilian population.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The greatest irony of the Civil War is that by seceding, the Confederates ended up causing the exact revolution they had hoped to avoid.
    • The Copperheads pave the path to complete Republican dominance by having associations with the rebels. After the Month of Blood, paranoia and hysteria lead to the almost-total purging of the opposition to the Republicans.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • McClellan holds it during the Peninsula Campaign, where a series of bad decisions allows Lee to destroy half of his Army.
    • Lee holds it during the Pennsylvania Campaign, where overconfidence and contempt for his enemies makes him foolishly fight Reynolds along the Pipe Creek Line, a fortified line of defenses. Predictably, the battle ends in a bloody defeat for the rebels.
  • Insistent Terminology: The opposition to the Lincoln government is always called National Unionists or Chesnuts, never Democrats. Justified, since the Democratic Party disappeared in the North after Lecompton, and it ceased to exist after secession.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Some situations end up the same as OTL. For example, Jackson still acquires his historical nickname of Stonewall and many campaigns are similar to their real-life counterparts. The author has admitted it's because the OTL decisions either made sense when taking into account military conditions and the commanders' personalities, or because they were so iconic he felt they had to be included.
  • Internal Reformist: Lincoln starts out at this, but he finds his illusions about a compromise over slavery increasingly shredded at a much quicker pace.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: True to real life, there are plenty of examples:
    • George B.McClellan's Peninsula Campaign. On paper, using the Union's naval superiority to get close to Richmond without having to fight any major battles seems like a good plan. Unfortunately, the political need to detach troops to defend the newly liberated Washington D.C. and McClellan's cautiousness allows the Army of Northern Virginia to defeat the scattered Union army detachments and concentrate to deliver a shattering blow to the Army of Susquehanna.
    • Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky. As a slave state and Breckinridge's home state, Kentucky seemed like an ideal target. especially with the significant pro-Confederate sympathy in the population. Bragg even brought a wagon train with 15,000 rifles to arm the expected Kentuckians who would flock to his banner as he entered the state. Although Bragg received 7,000 new recruits and E.K. Smith won a small victory at Richmond, Kentucky, the Confederate army was smashed at Lexington and later White Lily. Most depressingly, the two defeats resulted in the abandonment of Tennessee as Bragg's army would have dissolved after another battle.
    • Robert E. Lee's Invasion of the North: After the Confederate victories at the Peninsula and Manassas, Robert E. Lee sought to invade the North with the intention of emboldening the Copperheads, convincing the U.K. and France to recognize the Confederacy and intervene if necessary and plundering the country for supplies. After an early victory at Frederick, the Army of Northern Virginia is effectively reduced to half its strength after the self-destructive charges at Union Mills and the Union pursuit to Gettysburg. Furthermore, the defeat at Union Mills dissuades foreign powers from extending an offer of mediation or attempting intervention.
  • It's Personal: The Stonewall Brigade holds a grudge against Doubleday's USCT corps after they defeated them at Union Mills. The USCT, in turn, wants to avenge their comrades, slaughtered by Jackson's troops at the Battle of Harpers Ferry. Consequently, some of the fiercest fighting of the war ensues when they face each other again at the Battle of Mine Run.
  • The Klan: The author has explicitly said that the Ku Klux Klan will appear later. Confederates guerrillas are directly said to be their ancestors.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Confederate guerrillas are executed at sight and without trial by most Union commanders, but given what they are fighting for, it's difficult to feel pity for them.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Bragg knows that the Confederacy has lost both Kentucky and Tennessee after the shattering defeats at Lexington and White Lily, so he leaves both states and retreats to Georgia. Though he saved his Army this way (and earned several months because Thomas would have to patrol and pacify that enormous territory), his lieutenants and President Breckinridge are all furious.
    • Pemberton recognizes the futility of trying to hold onto Vicksburg and flees with around half of his men after Grant's initial attack. His insistence that saving his Army was the right move falls on deaf ears, and he receives great contempt by most Confederates.
    • Averted by Albert Sydney Johnston, who, despite all setbacks and defeats, presses on, decided to liberate Port Hudson. Though his determination is admirably, this leads the Confederacy to disaster at the Battle of Liberty. See Determinator.
    • Deconstructed by both Joe Johnston and George McClellan. They both think that refusing to engage in bloody and costly battles is the better choice, often disengaging instead of vigorously fighting. But this only leads them to strategic or tactical defeats. When they face each other at Anacostia, the result is something of a fiasco as Johnston doesn't put up much resistance before retreating, while McClellan refuses to pursue, giving up a golden opportunity to destroy the main rebel army.
  • Lack of Empathy: Some Confederates, like Forrest or Bloody Bill Anderson, are psychopathic murderers who feel no remorse over murdering or massacring Unionists and Black Americans.
  • Last Stand: The First Arkansas Negro Regiment at the Battle of Canton. Although they are massacred to the last men by Albert Sydney Johnston's Confederates, their sacrifice saves the rest of Grant's army.
  • Made a Slave: Confederate guerrillas often raid Union territory and kidnap free Blacks, hauling them south to be slaves. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia engages in this practice as well during the Pennsylvania Campaign.
  • Monumental Damage: The Confederates burn the White House and the US Capitol to the ground after capturing Washington, leaving behind little more than ashes.
  • Multinational Team: The presence of Irishmen and Germans in the Union Army is mentioned.
  • Name's the Same:
    • There are actually two Johnstons, both of them Confederate generals: Albert Sydney Johnston, the commander in the West who mostly fights against Grant, and Joe Johnston, who starts fighting in Virginia and then is reassigned to Georgia.
    • There are also two John Pembertons, both Confederates. One is famous as the commander who surrendered Vicksburg to Grant, while the other is the creator of Coca-Cola. The author once put up the photo of the wrong Pemberton as a result.
    • The author points out that Simon Bolivar Buckner, named after the Venezuelan liberator, does not deserve that name. Buckner is instead called "S.B. Buckner" within the story.
  • Never My Fault: McClellan never assumes the responsability for his blunders and mistakes, always blaming Lincoln or Secretary of War Stanton for everything that goes wrong.
  • Neutral No Longer: The theme of the story is Lincoln becoming less and less accomodating of pro-slavery politicians early on, along with many other politicans.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Averted in the Peninsular Campaign. In an act described by his fellow generals and president as cowardly and "unpardonable", McClellan abandons General Sumner's Corps during the retreat to Harrisburg Landing. This act cements McClellan's reputation as General Failure in the eyes of his soldiers and the politicians.
  • Off with His Head!: Confederate guerrillas, especially in Missouri and Kansas, take to beheading "abolitionists" and planting their heads in the middle of towns, as a way to intimidate and threaten their enemies. The first and most famous example is the murder of Andrew Allsman.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: James McPherson ends up losing an arm at the Battle of Liberty.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Buchanan is President Focus Group. As in real-life, he's obsessed with placating the slavery advocates, even as their actions go well into outright violations of the rule of law.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Unionist guerrillas have no qualms about massacring or murdering Confederates.
  • Pet the Dog: Breckinridge genuinely cares for the struggling Confederate population and tries to do everything in his power to alleviate their suffering.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica:
    • Simon Cameron, the incompetent and corrupt first Secretary of War, is sent to Russia as an ambassador.
    • Both Breckinridge and Lincoln are fond of sending problematic generals to the Trans-Mississippi front, where the damage they can cause is lessened.
  • Red Baron: On the Union side, there are Generals Ulysses S. Grant, known as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant; George H. Thomas, the "Sledgehammer of Lexington"; and John F. Reynolds, the "Victor of Union Mills". On the Confederate side, Beauregard is called "the Conqueror of Washington" and Johnston is sometimes known as the "Undaunted Johnston".
  • Regretful Traitor: With the shattering defeat at Union Mills, the panic and hysteria over rumors of a slave insurrection and the threat of a Northern army ready to hang traitors and confiscate land drove many Southerners near the frontline to defect in the hopes of saving themselves.
  • Rousing Speech: Both presidents are capable speakers, who use their talents to further their cause.
    • Just before the Pennsylvania Campaign begins, Lincoln gives a speech before the Army of Susquehanna and reporters to reinvigorate the army and nation's morale.
    • To put an end to the Bread Riots, Breckinridge shows the rioters that he is suffering just like them and declares, "I ask of you no sacrifices except those I am willing to take myself. I won’t leave you alone, I will do all in my power to protect you and give you what you need. But please, don’t let this end in bloodshed.”
  • Shocking Defeat Legacy: Applies to both sides. For the North, the confidence gained after the victories in Maryland and Tennessee is shattered by the gigantic catastrophe of the Nine Days' Battles, the embarrassing rout at Bull Run and the bitter failure of the first Vicksburg Campaign. For the South, the triple defeats of Lexington, Union Mills and Liberty cause mass panic and hysteria in the South. A major factor in this is the major role the USCT played in the battles of Fort Saratoga and Union Mills, which shatters the Southern belief that black soldiers cannot fight and embarrasses the whole raison d’être of the CSA (that African Americans were inferior to the White man).
  • The Siege: the fate of Port Hudson, which was too strong and too well fortified for Burnside to take it in a direct assault. Its importance as an outpost on the Mississippi is heightened as Vicksburg is abandoned by Pemberton, meaning it's the last Confederate fort blocking Union traffic in the Mississippi. The commander expects A.S. Johnston to come to his aid, but Johnston's army is demolished at the Battle of Liberty. Down to just skinned rats, the garrison surrenders upon hearing the news.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Stephen Douglas gives one to James Buchanan while confronting him over his violating of the rights of the people of Kansas. He combines it with Pretender Diss.
    James Buchanan: "I desire you to remember that no Democrat ever yet differed from an administration of his own choice without being crushed.”
    Stephen Douglas: You are no Jackson.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The man who assassinated Lyman Trumbull only appears on the first chapter and is not seen again. Yet, his actions end up modifying history.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Stonewall Jackson and Albert Sydney Johnston are still alive as of 1864, whereas Johnston died at Shiloh and Jackson at Chancellorsville in OTL. On the Union side, John Reynolds and Nathaniel Lyon also survive, becoming the leader of the Army of the Susquehanna and the General in-chief, respectively. Finally, Lincoln's son Willy, is explicitly stated to survive.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The riots in both Baltimore and New York start with explosions.
  • Team Switzerland: Attempted by Kentucky, which tries to declare itself neutral at the start of the war. Its strategic importance means that this doesn't last, and, when General Leonidas Polk invades the state, they finally side with the Union.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • Bragg has a horrible relationship with his commanders, who detest him and are sometimes outright unsubordinate. This helps explain his defeat at Lexington.
    • Following the Emancipation Proclamation, the commanders of the Army of the Susquehanna are divided between those who oppose it and those who are in favor. The lack of cooperation helped Lee defeat them decisively, because McClellan was hesitant to aid "abolitionist generals".
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilised: "The Second American Revolution" features many scenes of violent carnage, chief among them the guerrilla war in the Border States and the South, and the "Month of Blood", when the Federal Army bloodily puts down rebellions in New York and Baltimore. This without taking into account the Civil War itself.
  • Titled After the Song: Many chapter are titled after Civil War songs, such as The Battle Cry of Freedom or Lincoln and Liberty.
  • Token Good Teammate: Downplayed by James Longstreet, who we know will become a Republican in favor of Black Civil Rights. Nonetheless, he is still willing to fight for a rebellion to keep slavery, and his change of views still lays in the future.
  • Vigilante Execution: Both Unionist and Confederate guerrillas take upon them to execute any and all perceived traitors to their sections. Many mock trials followed by swift and brutal executions took place during the New York riots.
  • War Is Glorious: Deconstructed. This is the expectation for many soldiers and civilians as the war begins. This is shown in the sidestories; soldiers like James and Jordan Shaw and civilians like Richmond Andrew and Mary all see the war as an endeavor with a glorious cause. However, after enduring the terrors of battle and seeing the terrible aftermath, the costs overshadow the glory. Yet, many soldiers find the resolve to fight out for their cause and the fallen are said to have "died gloriously".
  • War Is Hell: This American Civil War is much bloodier and features a lot more suffering on both sides.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Despite the fact that both sides know that war will decide the fate of their nation, there's political infighting within both governments.
    • In the Union, the serious battlefield reverses in late 1862 sees the War Unionists discredited and the National Democracy party is taken over by the pro-peace Copperheads. The Copperheads insist that dropping emancipation as a war goal will be sufficient to coerce the Confederacy to accept re-union and outright attempt to subvert the government's authority.
    • In the Confederacy, after the disastrous setbacks of 1863, the Confederate politicians broke into two camps: the pro-Breckinridge Confederate National Party and the anti-Breckinridge "Tories" or "Reconstructionists". While both factions (with a few exceptions in the latter camp) are seeking to ensure that the Confederacy remains independent, the latter camp is opposed to many of the measures taken by Breckinridge.
  • We Have Reserves: Played with. No Union general is really callous or willing to sacrifice troops, but they are aware of the fact that the Union can afford to replace its losses. The result is that, most of the time, the Union suffers twice the Confederate casualties, but soon enough all men are replaced. The most salient example is how the Army of the Susquehanna lost close to half of its numbers during the Peninsula Campaign, but it's able to replace them all quite quickly.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: After the Month of Blood, the Union League clubs, once simple Republican debate clubs and printing societies, are transformed into a paramilitary organization focused on stamping out disloyalty and defending the gains of the war even if it means resorting to illegal and extralegal measures. Lincoln and other Republican leaders are appalled by the violence, but choose not to take action since their goals are aligned even if the methods were misguided.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: This view is commonly held by both the Union and the Confederacy for the guerillas fighting for their respective side. As mentioned by Richmond Andrew in the side-story "A Mississippi Guerilla", Confederate guerillas are seen by many Southerners as heroes despite the atrocities committed onto alleged Unionist neighbors, freed African-Americans and unarmed Union soldiers. At the same time, the Union is willing to turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by Unionist guerillas onto Southern civilians.
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