American Civil War alternate histories
American Civil War alternate histories are alternate history fiction that focuses on the Civil War (or a lack thereof) ending differently. The American Civil War is a popular point of divergence in English-language alternate history fiction. The most common variant of these detail the victory and survival of the Confederate States of America. Less common variants include a Union victory under different circumstances than in actual history, resulting in a different post-war situation; African-American slaves freeing themselves by revolt without waiting for Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation; a direct British intervention in the war; the survival of Lincoln during John Wilkes Booth's assassination attempt; a retelling of historical events with fantasy elements inserted; the Civil War never breaking out and a peaceful compromise was reached; and secret history tales. The point of divergence in such a story can either be a "natural, realistic" event (such as one general making a different decision than he did in our timeline, or one sentry detecting an enemy invasion which he failed to notice in reality), or else it can be an "unnatural" fantasy/science fiction plot device such as time travel, which usually takes the form of someone bringing modern weapons or hindsight knowledge into the past. American Civil War alternate histories are one of the two most popular points of divergence to create an alternate history in the English language, the other being an Axis victory in World War II.
Depictions of the later development of a victorious Confederacy vary considerably from each other – especially on two major, interrelated issues: an independent Confederacy's treatment of its Black population and its relations with the rump United States to its north.
- In the 2004 mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, the United States is annexed by the Confederate States and slavery continues up to the present, including a depiction of "an electronic slave auction" carried on via the internet. However, most other alternate histories assume that, even when succeeding to become independent with its "peculiar institution" intact, the Confederacy would have still eventually put an end to slavery.
- In Grey Victory, set in the immediate aftermath of the war, the Confederacy is faced with both subversion by Northern Abolitionists and the increasing organization and assertiveness of Black Southerners themselves, and the story gives the clear impression that, no matter who wins, the end of slavery is inevitable.
- In several other depictions, such as Bring the Jubilee and The Guns of the South, freeing the slaves is attributed to Robert E. Lee, who in all these works becomes the second Confederate President. It is logical to assume that his prestige would have run high, making him a plausible candidate to succeed Jefferson Davis, although the position he would have taken regarding slavery is the subject of some debate. However, ending slavery would not necessarily provide equality for Black Southerners.
- In Bring the Jubilee Blacks, despite President Lee's grand gesture, remain disenfranchised into the 20th Century (as are the people of Latin America who were in this timeline annexed by the Confederacy and the Confederacy's immigrant population).
- The same is true for Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory series – where it is President James Longstreet who frees the slaves from being property, as a prerequisite for retaining British and French support for the Confederacy in the Second Mexican War, but Confederate Blacks remain a very oppressed and discriminated underclass, denied basic civil rights and not even being allowed to have surnames. In later volumes of the series the Blacks burst out in a brutal armed revolt called the Red Rebellion during the Great War which are met with equal brutality from White authorities, who then make them the target of a terrible Holocaust-like genocide.
- In Bring the Jubilee, the rump United States is completely broken down by its defeat, becoming an impoverished and backward country while the Confederacy goes on to annex everything to its south as far as Tierra del Fuego (barring the Republic of Haiti) and become a major world power.
- In the 2004 mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, the United States is annexed by the Confederate States of America upon winning the war, but most other alternate histories assume that, even if losing its southern part, America would remain a major economic and military power.
- In Grey Victory, Abolitionists seek to provoke the Union and the Confederacy into a new war. In By Force of Arms, an attempt at reconciliation fails and after a few years they are at war again.
- More optimistic results occur in The Guns of the South and several other works, where the two nations settle down into reasonable good neighborly relations within a few years of the war's end, and in some cases agree to reunite as one nation after 50 or 100 years of being apart.
- By stark contrast, in Southern Victory they develop into hereditary enemies who go to war again every decade or two and who spend the rest of the time preparing for new war, becoming entangled in webs of worldwide military alliances.
- In the 1914 of Southern Victory, U.S. and Confederacy are drawn into the worldwide war immediately following the Archduke's murder, and open an American front of trench warfare, every bit as terrible as the ones in Europe. Conversely, the 1914 of "A Hard Day for Mother" in Alternate Generals 1 by William R. Forstchen sees the amicable treaty of reconciliation and voluntary reunification between the two nations.
- In If the South Had Won the Civil War by MacKinlay Kantor, reunification comes later: during the 20th Century the United States, Confederate States of America and Texas (which seceded from the CSA) become economically integrated and in both World Wars, they all fight against Germany as close allies. Following World War II, USA, CSA and Texas all feel threatened by Soviet missile bases and armored brigades in Alaska (which was never purchased from Russia). Therefore, they announce a formal reunification in 1961, on the precise centennial of Fort Sumter. Conversely, a GURPS game setting book presents a 1993 in which the U.S.A. and C.S.A. still watch each other warily across an armed border that stretches to the Pacific.
It has been suggested that this list be split into a new article titled List of alternate histories diverging at the American Civil War. (Discuss) (March 2017)
- Hallie Marshall: A True Daughter of the South by Frank Williams. The earliest Civil War alternate history written as far back as 1900.
- If the South Had Been Allowed to Go by Ernest Crosby. Another early Civil War alternate history written in 1903.
- If the South Had Won the Civil War by MacKinlay Kantor (Originally published in Look Magazine in 1960, published as book in 1961)
- "Sidewise in Time" by Murray Leinster (one of several alternate realities briefly visited in the story)
- 1862 by Robert Conroy
- Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore
- The Shiloh Project by David Poyer
- Fire on the Mountain by Terry Bisson. Instead of a Civil War breaking out between North and South there is a massive successful slave revolt in the Deep South with blacks creating their own separate nation called "Nova Africa" which leads to Socialist revolutions in France, the United States, Ireland, and Russia.
- Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War, Grant Comes East, and Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant: The Final Victory by Newt Gingrich, William R. Forstchen, and Albert S. Hanser
- Gray Victory by Robert Skimin
- The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove
- A Rebel in Time by Harry Harrison
- "The Forest of Time" by Michael F. Flynn, where a war among the Thirteen Colonies directly follows the American Revolution, resulting in a stillborn United States and a perpetually balkanized North America.
- Russian Amerika by Stoney Compton. The backstory is only vaguely defined, but the PoD seems to be a CSA victory in the 1860s.
- The Southern Victory Series, by Harry Turtledove.
- War Between the Provinces series by Harry Turtledove, a fantasy allegory of the Civil War set in imaginary countries with recognizable analogous characters such as King Avram, General Bart, and General Hesmucet.
- "Must and Shall" (collected in anthology Counting Up, Counting Down, also in volume 32 of the Nebula Awards series) by Harry Turtledove
- "Lee at the Alamo" by Harry Turtledove, story published on line at http://www.tor.com/2011/09/07/lee-at-the-alamo/
- Crosstime Traffic series by Harry Turtledove visits many alternate realities, briefly mentioning a few where the South won the Civil War. The fourth volume The Disunited States of America focuses on a world where there were frequent small localized wars between states (e.g. Ohio versus Virginia, Massachusetts versus Rhode Island) but no single big civil war.
- If It Had Happened Otherwise (1931) anthology contains two relevant entries: "If Lee Had NOT Won the Battle of Gettysburg" by Winston Churchill, and "If Booth had Missed Lincoln" by Milton Waldman.
- "If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox" by James Thurber. Inspired by the above book. The wrong man surrenders.
- Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith, re-casts the Civil War as a war on vampires using slaves as a food source.
- The Stars and Stripes trilogy (Stars and Stripes Forever , Stars and Stripes In Peril , and Stars and Stripes Triumphant ) by Harry Harrison, where the Trent affair and the death of Prince Albert (the husband of Queen Victoria) elicits a war between the Union and Britain, eventually seeing America reunited under one government.
- Alternate Generals, volume 1, contains three US Civil War-related stories: 1) "The Charge of Lee's Brigade" by S.M. Stirling. The American Revolution never happened, so Virginia and most of North America remain under British rule; in the mid 19th century, Brigadier General Sir Robert E. Lee and his lieutenants, including Jeb Stuart, fight against the Russians in an analogous Crimean War. 2) "An Old Man's Summer" by Esther Friesner. In the mid 20th century, Dwight Eisenhower dreams (maybe) that he time travels to the Battle of Gettysburg. 3) "A Hard Day for Mother" by William R. Forstchen. A look at what might have happened at Little Round Top had Joshua Chamberlain fought for the Confederacy rather than the Union.
- "East of Appomattox" (in Alternate Generals III) by Lee Allred. In the late 1860s, the CSA sends Ambassador Robert E. Lee to London to assure continued British recognition, and he finds unexpected challenges and even unlikelier allies.
- Alternate Presidents contains four stories with wildly differing hypothetical US Civil War scenarios: "Chickasaw Slave" by Judith Moffett in which Davy Crockett becomes President of the United States and the Compromise of 1850 leading to Civil War and Confederate victory, "How the South Preserved the Union" by Ralph Roberts which focuses on New England seceding from the Union as a confederacy and a Southern-dominated United States fighting the New Englanders for two years resulting in a Union victory with the New England states readmitted and President Stephen A. Douglas passing the Civil Rights Act of 1861 abolishing slavery and granting freedmen the right to vote, "Now Falls the Cold, Cold Night" by Jack L. Chalker focuses on a scenario similar to "How the South Preserved the Union" in which New England seceded from the Union, and "Lincoln's Charge" by Bill Fawcett focuses on Stephen A. Douglas becoming President of the United States. In both Roberts' and Chalker's entries, the Northern states seek to secede from the Southern-dominated Union.
- Dirk Pitt series: Volume 11: Sahara by Clive Cussler. This series' recurring macguffin, wherein the heroes discover an astounding secret history, involves the Lincoln Assassination in this one. It is a brief side plot only tenuously related to the main adventure, and this element is completely left out of the film adaptation of the novel.
- "The Lincoln Train" by Maureen F. McHugh, in Nebula Awards anthologies volume 31, Alternate Tyrants, and Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction
- The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter, Abraham Lincoln survives his assassination at Ford's Theatre in 1865 but is impeached by Congress.
- "If the Lost Order Hadn't Been Lost: Robert E. Lee Humbles the Union, 1862" by James M. McPherson, first printed in What If?, and reprinted in What Ifs? of American History, a scenario posited by McPherson that focuses on the Lost Order staying in Confederate hands and therefore advance to Pennsylvania and win an alternate version of the Battle of Gettysburg resulting in the death of George B. McClellan coupled with Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith winning and taking over Kentucky during the Heartland Campaign and this decisive victory allows the Copperheads to win the 1862 legislative elections coupled with Britain and France recognizing the new nation thus Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet are forced to issue a proclamation to recognize the Confederacy as a sovereign, separate nation by New Year's Eve 1863.
- "Beyond the Wildest Dreams of John Wilkes Booth" by Jay Winik, first printed in What Ifs? of American History, a scenario in which John Wilkes Booth not only assassinates Abraham Lincoln but he also is successful in assassinating Andrew Johnson and William H. Seward.
- "The Northwest Conspiracy" by Thomas Fleming, first printed in What Ifs? of American History, a scenario in which the Copperheads successfully launch the Northwest Conspiracy which results in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky breaking away from the Union and forming their own nation.
- TimeRiders: volume 4: The Eternal War (2011) by Alex Scarrow, in which Britain entered the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, turning the war into an unending stalemate. Without the United States to challenge its dominance, the British Empire continued to expand, and by 2001 it controls half the world.
- "Custer's Last Jump" by Steven Utley and Howard Waldrop (1976), reprinted in numerous anthologies.
- "Hush My Mouth" by Suzette Haden Elgin, first printed in Alternative Histories: 11 Stories of the World as It Might Have Been (1986).
- "All the Myriad Ways" by Larry Niven, with worlds of CSA victory being mentioned only briefly by the narrator in a list of alternate realities known in the story.
- In David Mason's The Shores of Tomorrow, the slave-holding South dominated a technologically backward US from its foundation until the 1940s - when a series of Northern rebellions led to the creation of three Free Republics taking up the interior and leaving the Southrons with "a slave-holding, vice-ridden burned out piece of the coast".
- Shattered Nation: An Alternate History of the American Civil War (trilogy) by Jeffrey Evan Brooks, a series that focus on the Confederacy winning its independence in 1864 by achieving victory at the Battle of Atlanta thanks to a telegram that keeps Joseph E. Johnston as general of the Army of Tennessee
- In Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters (2016), President-elect Abraham Lincoln is assassinated in 1861, and a version of the Crittenden Compromise is adopted preventing the Civil War from occurring; as a result, slavery continues to the present in four southern states (the "Hard Four" comprising Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Carolina); the title refers to the secret network assisting escaping slaves, updated from "Underground Railroad"; the protagonist is a black U.S. Marshal who is forced to work tracking down runaway slaves.
- Britannia's Fist (trilogy) by Peter Tsouras. England/France enter the War in 1863 when British built warships enter the CSA Navy instead of being seized by British forces before entering Confederate service (as what really happened).
- Gettysburg: An Alternate History by Peter Tsouras, Tsouras' own counterfactual account of a Confederate victory at The Battle of Gettysburg
- Dixie Victorious: An Alternate History of the Civil War by Peter Tsouras, an anthology of various Civil War/Confederate victory 10 alternate history scenarios written by various authors. "Hell on Earth" by Andrew Uffindell focuses on an Anglo-French intervention on the side of the Confederates against the Union due to Albert of Saxe-Coburg dying in a carriage incident before he could handle the Trent Affair between American and Britain which worsens here with the wounding of Thomas Fairfax and the death of two British citizens as well as a successful St. Albans Raid in 1861 and a harsh ultimatum to the Lincoln Administration, "Ships of Iron and Wills of Steel" by Wade G. Dudley focuses on a Union victory at the Battle of Hampton Roads and a Confederate counter-blockade with resources properly allocated to the Confederate Navy, "What Will Our Country Say?" by David Keithly focuses on Robert E. Lee not losing the famous Lost Orders during the Maryland Campaign, "When the Bottom Fell Out" by Michael Hathaway focuses on a financial crisis and collapse of the Union ecnomy in 1862 coupled with a Southern victory in Maryland, "We Will Water Our Horses in the Mississippi" by James R. Arnold focuses on Albert Sidney Johnston surviving his wound at the Battle of Shiloh thanks to a torniquet applied to him and going on to face Ulysses S. Grant in the Vicksburg Campaign, "Absolutely Essential to Victory" by Edward G. Longcare focuses on JEB Stuart's cavalry not riding around the Army of the Potomac and staying with Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, "Moves to Great Advantage" by John D. Burrett focuses on Braxton Bragg fired from the Army of Tennessee and replaced by James Longstreet after the Battle of Chickamauga, "Confederate Black and Grey" by Tsouras himself focuses on the Confederacy accepting Patrick Cleburne's proposal to utilize black slaves and free blacks in the Confederate Army as soldiers, "Decision in the West" by Cyril M. Lagvanec focuses on the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the Civil War for the Confederacy where there is a different depth of a sandbar coupled with the disastrous Red River Campaign, and "Terrible as an Army with Banners" by Kevin F. Kelley focuses on Jubal Early succeeding in his raid on Washington, D.C. as a result of the United States Marine Corps loosening on him allowing him to break the Siege of Petersburg.
- By Force of Arms, Rebel Empire, Reaping the Whirlwind, and Flags & Honor by Billy Bennett. A series of books that focus on a victorious CSA that has won the Civil War after the Battle of Gettysburg as well as its subsequent conflict with the USA under William Tecumseh Sherman in the Second American Civil War with aid from the French Empire, war with Spain over the territory of Cuba in 1895 called the Spanish–Confederate War, and an alternate World War I between the "Continental Entente" (consisting of the Confederate States and the French Empire) up against the "Grand Alliance" (consisting of the United States and the British Empire).
- Stonewall Goes West and Mother Earth, Bloody Ground: A Novel of the Civil War and What Might Have Been by R.E. Thomas. Stonewall Jackson takes control of the Army of Tennessee during the Western Theatre of the Civil War to bolster the Confederacy's chances there.
- Confederate States: What Might Have Been by Roger L. Ransom.
- The Wild Blue and the Gray by William Sanders. A Civil War alternate history set during World War I where the Confederate States joins the Allies during World War I.
- A Southern Yarn by R.W. Richards, Jeff Bogart, and Nancy Willard-Chang. Robert E. Lee is able to trap Ulysses S. Grant during the Battle of North Anna River.
- The Lost Regiment series by William R. Forstchen. A Union Army regiment is transported into an alien world who face off against aliens such as the Tugar and the Bantag.
- Clopton's Short History of the Confederate States of America by Carole Scott.
- Southern Cross: Annuit Coeptis by Dorvall and Phillip Renne
- Confederate Star Rises by Richard Small
Film and television
- The Time Tunnel, episodes 12 ("The Death Trap") and 25 ("The Death Merchant").
- The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Lord of Limbo"
- C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, a mockumentary directed by Kevin Willmott.
- The Legend of Zorro (sequel to The Mask of Zorro, which is not Civil War-related)
- Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
- Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies
- Confederate - a planned HBO television series after 2018
- Black America - a planned Amazon Video television series that focuses on the United States government giving African-Americans their own homeland called New Colonia (consisting of the former southern slave states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi) after the Civil War.
- Aces & Eights: Shattered Frontier role-playing game, written by Jolly R. Blackburn, Brian Jelke, Steve Johansson, Dave Kenzer, Jennifer Kenzer and Mark Plemmons, and published by Kenzer & Company in 2007.
- Damnation by Blue Omega Entertainment and published by Codemasters.
- Deadlands role-playing game by Pinnacle Entertainment Group
- Dixie [hex and counter board game] by Simulations Publications Incorporated (SPI), the Union loses the Civil War and is trying to reclaim the Confederate States of America in the 1930s.
- Doomtown collectable card game by Alderac Entertainment Group, Wizards of the Coast, and Five Rings Publishing Group
- Doomtown: Range Wars, a Disk Wars game by Fantasy Flight Games
- GURPS Alternate Earths (1996), a supplement of alternate realities published by Steve Jackson Games for the GURPS Third Edition, which includes the alternate world codenamed "Dixie", where the North American continent, circa 1985, is divided between the northern USA and the southern CSA along an extended Mason–Dixon line. An updated (current year: 1993) but truncated description of this world, now known as "Dixie-1", was included in the revised Fourth Edition version of the book (see history at GURPS Infinite Worlds#Dixie-1).
- Victoria II, a grand strategy wargame by Paradox Interactive, offers an opportunity for the Confederacy to win the American Civil War and become a world power.
- Gettysburg: Armored Warfare - A man from the year 2060 travels back in time to the Civil War, bringing weapons from his time that he gives to the Confederate forces in the hope of changing the future of America.
- Captain Confederacy (1986, and occasional tie-ins afterward) by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone.
- Elseworlds: Batman: The Blue, the Grey and the Bat (1992) by Elliot S! Maggin and Alan Weiss.
- Elseworlds: Superman: A Nation Divided (1998) by Roger Stern
- Elseworlds: Batman: Detective No. 27 (2003) by Michael Uslan and Peter Snejbjerg
- What If?: Captain America Volume 1, What If Captain America Fought in the Civil War? (2006) by Tony Bedard
- One issue of Supreme written by Alan Moore.
- Second American Revolution, a literary cousin or offshoot of Civil War alternate histories
- Second American Civil War, a plot device used in some works set in the future
- Hypothetical Axis victory in World War II, a similar plot device regarding an alternate outcome of World War II
Some of this section's listed sources may not be reliable. (October 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Silver, Steven. "Alternate History Month Contest". Steven Silver's SF Web Site. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
- Schmunk, Robert B. (2008). "Uchronia: The Alternate History List". Online database. Archived from the original on December 17, 2008. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
- Fred Bush (July 15, 2002). "The Time of the Other: Alternate History and the Conquest of Britain". Strange Horizons. Archived from the original on January 3, 2010. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
- Dyer, Gwynne. "The American Civil War: What if?". thespec.com. Retrieved April 12, 2001.
- Halter, Ed (2006-02-07). "The Second Civil War". Village Voice. Retrieved 2016-10-16.
- Blackburn, Jolly R.; Jelke, Brian; Johansson, Steve; Kenzer, Dave; Kenzer, Jennifer; Plemmons, Mark (2007). Blackburn, Barbara, ed. Aces & Eights. Kenzer, Jennifer; Shideler, Bev. Waukegan: Kenzer & Company. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-59459-086-3.