How Few Remain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
How Few Remain
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
AuthorHarry Turtledove
Cover artistC. Rochling
CountryUnited States
SeriesSouthern Victory
GenreAlternate history
PublisherBallantine Books/Del Rey
Publication date
September 8, 1997
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback), eBook
ISBN978-0-345-41661-2 (first edition, hardback), ISBN 9780307531018 (eBook)
813/.54 21
LC ClassPS3570.U76 H69 1997
Followed by'The Great War: American Front (Great War

How Few Remain is a 1997 alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove. It is the first part of the Southern Victory saga, which depicts a world in which the Confederate States of America won the American Civil War. It is similar to his earlier novel The Guns of the South, but unlike the latter, it is a purely historical novel with no fantastical or science fiction elements. The book received the Sidewise Award for Alternate History in 1997, and was also nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1998. It covers the Southern Victory Series period of history from 1862 and from 1881 to 1882.


The War of Secession
Part of Southern Victory Series
DateApril 12, 1861 – November 4, 1862
United States

C.S. and Allied (British and French) victory

  • Creation of the Confederate States of America (territory includes 11 states that officially seceded plus Kentucky and Indian Territory)
  • Economic crash in the United States in 1863
 United States  Confederate States
 United Kingdom (1862)
 France (1862)
Commanders and leaders
Abraham Lincoln
Ulysses S. Grant
William Sherman
George McClellan
Jefferson Davis
Robert E. Lee
Stonewall Jackson
Albert Sidney Johnston
Queen Victoria
Henry John Temple
Flag of France Napoleon III

The point of divergence occurs on September 10, 1862, during the American Civil War. In actual history, a C.S. Army messenger lost General Robert E. Lee's Special Order 191, which detailed Lee's plans for the Invasion of the North. The orders were soon found by U.S. soldiers, and using them, George McClellan was able to fight the Army of Northern Virginia to a draw at the Battle of Antietam, after which it returned to Virginia.

In How Few Remain, the orders are instead recovered by a trailing C.S. soldier. McClellan is caught by surprise, enabling Lee to lead the Army of Northern Virginia towards Philadelphia. Lee forces McClellan into battle on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and destroys the Army of the Potomac in the Battle of Camp Hill on October 1. Lee goes on to capture Philadelphia, earning the Confederate States of America diplomatic recognition from both the United Kingdom and France, thus winning the war (which is known as the War of Secession in the alternate timeline) and independence from the United States on November 4, 1862.

Kentucky, having been conquered by C.S. forces shortly after the Battle of Camp Hill as a result of Lincoln diverting key troops there to Pennsylvania (who did not arrive in time to fight at Camp Hill), joins the eleven original C.S. states after the war's conclusion, and the Confederacy is also given Indian Territory (our timeline's state of Oklahoma, later the State of Sequoyah in the SV timeline). But, as a compromise, the United States retained Missouri (despite proposals to divide it) and West Virginia. The Spanish island of Cuba is purchased by the C.S. in the late 1870s for $3,000,000, thus also becoming a C.S. state.

Abraham Lincoln ends up losing the 1864 presidential election to the Democratic candidate (whose identity is never mentioned in the series) in a landslide.

In the late 1860s, Russia offers to sell Alaska to the United States. However, the $7 million price tag is too much for the United States's eroded post-war economy (which collapsed in 1863). With that, Alaska remains a Russian territory.

The C.S. makes agreeable treaties with the Indians in its domain, particularly those of Indian Territory, ensuring their support for the new nation. The U.S. Army, freed up by the war's quick end, lets off steam by accelerating the U.S. settlement of the Great Plains and the West which also accelerated the Indian wars, crushing all hostile tribes by the early 1870s. (Except for the Comanche and Kiowa, who take full advantage of the new U.S.-C.S. border and manipulate the continuing hostility between the two nations to their own maximum benefit.) One result of this is that the Battle of Little Big Horn (1876 in our timeline) never happens, a divergence which will have consequences resonating throughout this series.

In 1881, Republican James G. Blaine has ridden a hard-line platform of anti-Confederatism into the White House, having defeated Democratic incumbent Samuel J. Tilden in the 1880 presidential election. Both American nations have been sanctioning Indian raids into each other's territory. The international tension between the United States and the Confederate States peaks when Confederate President James Longstreet, desiring a Pacific coast for the Confederacy so that the South can have a transcontinental railroad for itself, purchases the northwestern provinces of Sonora and Chihuahua from the financially strapped Second Mexican Empire (which is still ruled by Maximilian) for CS $3,000,000. Blaine uses the "coerced" purchase as a casus belli, leading to the commencement of what will later become known as the "Second Mexican War".

Second Mexican War[edit]

Second Mexican War
Part of Southern Victory Series
DateJune 25, 1881 to April 22, 1882

Confederate and Allied (British and French) victory

  • Confederate States: The C.S. retains Sonora and Chihuahua as recognized territory and maintains its alliance with France and the United Kingdom.
  • United States: The United States cedes northern Maine to the United Kingdom, which becomes part of the Canadian province of New Brunswick.
 United States Comanche Indians  Confederate States
 United Kingdom
Second Mexican Empire
Mormon Rebels
Kiowa Indians
Apache Indians
Commanders and leaders
United States James G. Blaine
Seal of the United States Department of War.png William Rosecrans
Seal of the United States Department of War.png John Pope
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Theodore Roosevelt
Seal of the United States Department of War.png George Armstrong Custer
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Thomas Custer  
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Orlando B. Willcox
Seal of the United States Department of War.png William Sherman
Seal of the United States Department of War.png James Duane
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Alfred Sully
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Henry Welton
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Peter Hains
Seal of the United States Department of War.png William Foulke
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Archibald Creel  
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Saul Berryman
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Virgil Earp  (POW)
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Theron Winship  (POW)
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Algernon van Nuys  
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Joseph Little  
Seal of the United States Department of War.png Neufeld
James Longstreet
Confederate States of America Stonewall Jackson
Confederate States of America Jeb Stuart  
Confederate States of America Edward Alexander
Confederate States of America Peter Turney
Confederate States of America Calhoun Ruggles
Confederate States of America Luke Tiernan Brien
Confederate States of America William Elliott
Confederate States of America Jethro Weathers
Confederate States of America Overall
Confederate States of America Tinker  
Confederate States of America Steinfeldt  
Queen Victoria
Charles George Gordon
Maximilian II
Enrique Gutierrez

Following the Confederate purchase of Sonora and Chihuahua, which extends the CSA–USA border and gives the Confederates the Pacific port of Guaymas, the United States declares war on the Confederacy. Early on in the war, Confederate troops under Jeb Stuart capture a large quantity of gold and silver ore from a Union mining town after successfully occupying the newly purchased provinces. Meanwhile, a Union cavalry colonel, George Armstrong Custer, successfully uses Gatling guns against Kiowa Indians and Confederate cavalry in Kansas. Soon, the United Kingdom and France, both Confederate allies, blockade and bombard US port cities such as Boston and New York, along with those on the Great Lakes.

During the war, the Mormons in Utah rebel by severing transcontinental communication and transportation around Salt Lake City. John Pope is appointed as the military governor, puts down the revolt, and imposes martial law. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is classified as an illegal political organization and Mormonism loses all protection under the First Amendment and is banned. The Mormon leaders are then hunted down and executed; the brutal put down of the revolt in Utah will set the stage for the Utah Troubles that will haunt the United States for the rest of the series.

The United States' attempt to invade Virginia is easily thrown back by General Stonewall Jackson as the United States struggle to find a general his equal. A key reason for the Confederate success in the war, in addition to fighting a defensive war, is that the Confederates are led by excellent generals like Jackson, while the United States military, despite possessing a massive advantage in numbers and resources, suffers from incompetent leadership. William Rosecrans, the commander of the entire US army, casually reveals at one point that there is no overall strategy for winning the war "whatsoever". He envisions a vague idea of the opposing armies making counteroffensives back and forth against each other, which he feels the United States would assuredly win. This lack of planning leaves the German military observer, Alfred von Schlieffen, aghast.

The United States next attempts to launch a massive invasion of Louisville to knock the Confederates out of Kentucky but it soon becomes a bloody stalemate. The decision of Stonewall Jackson to command the defense personally, the incompetence of U.S. commanders, and most of all, the use of breech-loading artillery and repeating rifles make taking the city very difficult. The Confederate Army refrains from any major invasion of United States territory for two reasons: first, it does not have the resources to conquer the United States. Second, the Confederacy's success hinges on the support of the United Kingdom and France, who feel they are aiding a smaller nation wrongfully attacked by a larger one, and launching offensives into the United States would be seen as an act of aggression which might cost the Confederacy foreign support. Galled by orders to wage a purely defensive war, Jackson takes them to the extreme, pioneering tactics of urban warfare and full-scale trench warfare which devastates Louisville (in scenes reminiscent of real life World War I). The Louisville campaign quickly bogs down for the United States, and results in very heavy losses with little territory gained. The United Kingdom and France continue to blockade the United States; French forces from Mexico also shell Los Angeles, while the British bombard San Francisco and raid the Federal mint there.

The only major United States victory in the war occurs when a young volunteer cavalry colonel, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Armstrong Custer rout a British and Canadian division under Charles Gordon invading Montana from Canada. However, the British also invade northern Maine and annex it into the Canadian province of New Brunswick, nullifying the Webster–Ashburton Treaty that previously solved the dispute.

Finally, facing defeat on almost all fronts, President Blaine is forced to capitulate. A Republican is never again elected to the US Presidency, and the Republican Party splits into socialists led by Abraham Lincoln. The United States, learning the importance of strong allies, seek an alliance with the newly formed and powerful German Empire, and swears revenge against the Confederacy for the humiliating defeat. The alliance sets up events for the next three series, which cover an alternate World War I, Inter-war period, and World War II.

Primary characters[edit]

The novel is narrated from the point of view of eight primary historical figures.

Aftermath of war[edit]

In April 1882, the Confederates once again defeat the United States, which allows the purchase of Sonora and Chihuahua to stand. Along with losing the war, the United States loses, in fighting with the United Kingdom, the northern part of Maine to the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

Following a series of speeches in Utah and Montana, and a gathering of Republicans at the Florence Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, former president Abraham Lincoln leads a group of left-wing Republicans into the new Socialist Party; this action leads to the sharp decline of the Republican Party, allowing the Socialists to eventually become the primary opposition to the Democrats. As a result of that, the Republicans would fade into a minor third party representing only the Midwest (which is booming in the late 19th and early 20th centuries). Meanwhile, The Democrats were driven to the right by Benjamin Butler, who led the right-wing Republicans to merge with the party and caused a majority of the party to adopt a hard line foreign policy and the gearing of American society to nationalism and revanchism.

After U.S. defeat in the Second Mexican War, President Blaine declares April 22 of every succeeding year to be Remembrance Day, to remember the humiliation of defeat, and vow revenge. The holiday parades will be somber, with the U.S. flag being flown upside down as a sign of distress, signifying the two defeats by the Confederate States. As a result of the US's defeat in the Second Mexican War, Blaine loses the 1884 presidential election to an unknown Democratic candidate in a landslide and become the last Republican to hold the office of the presidency.

In effect, while conceding defeat in this war, Blaine was setting the stage for the next one, instilling in U.S. citizens an ever-present desire for and expectation of revenge upon the Confederacy and the British Empire while embarking on an intensive program of systematic militarization on the German model, with the vision of making the United States a kind of second Prussia. Turtledove's model in our history was evidently the French desire for revenge on Germany ("Revanchism") following their defeat in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War and the loss of Alsace and Lorraine.

In this timeline's New York City, there is no Statue of Liberty on Bedloe's Island, nor does the name get changed to Liberty Island – as relations between the United States and France are poor, due to France's support for the Confederacy, and there is no question of the French donating such a statue to the Americans. Instead, the island is taken up by a similar but more grim German-influenced statue known as the Statue of Remembrance holding the "Sword of Vengeance". Whenever either Germany gave the statue to the United States or the USA built it itself is never mentioned.

Meanwhile, the United States will move centers of administration from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia due to the District of Columbia bordering the Confederate state of Virginia (which is making governing increasingly difficult and impractical for the United States). The Powel House will become a secondary White House whenever tensions between the CSA and USA are high.

In order to continue to receive assistance from both the United Kingdom and France, Confederate President Longstreet had to propose a constitutional amendment calling for the manumission of all the country's slaves making them resident aliens; however, the free blacks will not have the same rights that whites have, setting up an important conflict for succeeding volumes of the series.

After losing two wars within twenty years, the United States begin an alliance with the strengthening German Empire (formed in 1871), and will eventually start to reform itself along Prussian lines.

Southern Victory Series continued[edit]

How Few Remain is followed in the Southern Victory series by the Great War and American Empire trilogies, and the Settling Accounts tetralogy.

External links[edit]