Monday, July 11, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: Settlement and Conflict

Work continues on Scorpions in a Bottle. I now present the third and final section of Chapter 6: The Dickinson Era, which takes us to 1795 in the infant C.N.A. and leads us into the Trans-Oceanic War.

* * *

Like Dickinson and Howe before him, Governor-General Clinton found himself facing an ongoing insurrection in the Green Mountain region of New Hampshire, and like them he found himself unable to subdue it. The Green Mountain insurgents were augmented by farmers throughout Massachusetts who had served in the Continental Army. With the Rebellion lost, these rebel soldiers found their pay from the Congress worthless, and many lost their farms to foreclosure. Some left with Ward and were lost; some left with Greene and settled in Jefferson; most left for the Green Mountains and joined in the Allen insurgency. From their mountain strongholds, the insurgents were able to carry out sudden raids against British regulars and Northern Confederation militia, then melt away into the forests and hills.

Lord Cornwallis, the commander-in-chief of British forces in the C.N.A., was hampered by his parsimonious superiors in London, who remained obsessed with paying down the national debt and consequently kept his force undermanned and undersupplied. Cornwallis was also unable to coordinate effectively with Clinton, of whom he remained suspicious even years after the Rebellion. As a result, the Northern Confederation was never able to field a force of sufficient strength to overcome the insurgents. The conflict eventually settled down into a stalemate, in which successive governors of the N.C. chose to leave the Green Mountain region alone, and the insurgency died away into a general hostility to all government authority. It was not until the 1888 electoral triumph of the People’s Coalition (whom they supported) that the people of the Green Mountains were finally reconciled to rule by the C.N.A. [1]

Throughout the 1780s and 1790s, the N.C.’s traditional commercial activities were joined by the first appearance of mechanized industry. The invention of the spinning mule in Britain shortly after the Rebellion was followed quickly by its appearance in New England, and a cloth-weaving industry took hold there. At the same time, the presence of iron ore and coal in central Pennsylvania led to the beginnings of an ironworking industry in that province. Council delegates from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania urged the passage of import duties on cloth and iron from Europe (including Great Britain) to encourage local manufacturing. The proposed duties were voted down, but the notion of protective tariffs against the mother country had been raised, and would not go away.

The settlement of Indiana began in earnest in 1786 when a group of investors from Massachusetts formed a land company and negotiated the purchase of a tract along the Ohio River from the Indiana Council. The company purchase attracted settlers from New England, who by 1792 numbered over 500. Since the new settlement was on the far side of the confederation from the capital at Fort Radisson, the settlers petitioned the Indiana Council in 1792 to create a provincial-level government for them. The Indiana Council was initially reluctant to do so, but financial pressure from the Northern Confederation Council overcame their resistance, and in 1794 the entire area south of Lake Erie was formed into the province of Albany, with the right to appoint one third of the Indiana Council. [2]

Settlers were also crossing the Appalachians in the Southern Confederation. The first settlers in western Virginia arrived under the aegis of the Transylvania Company, an abortive attempt to establish a new proprietary colony in the 1770s. After the Rebellion, the trail blazed by these first settlers was used by a new wave in the 1780s taking advantage of an offer by Governor Bland. Bland feared that the cheap land being opened up in Jefferson would draw away Virginians, leaving the province depopulated. To prevent that, he offered 400 acres in western Virginia to any man who would settle there and work to improve it. To discourage speculators, he stipulated that any man accepting the offer would be required to remain on the land he received for ten years before being allowed to sell it. These “Bland grants” formed the basis for many of the settlements established in western Virginia, including the founding of Bland City, the largest city in western Virginia. [3]

Georgia faced a more immediate problem than a lack of settlers. Much to the colonists’ dismay, the North ministry had sold the neighboring Florida colonies to Spain, and the government in Savannah soon had its hands full dealing with parties of Seminole Indians raiding across the border. Complaints to Connolly and Dickinson had no effect, nor did complaints to the Spanish governors of East and West Florida. Finally, in 1792, Governor Thomas Brown sent a company of provincial militia under Captain Richard Tomkinson into East Florida to search for the Seminole raiders. Tomkinson’s expedition was unsuccessful, and he lost a fifth of his force to disease and desertion. In addition, the Governor of East Florida, Brigadier Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada, sent a sharply-worded note of protest to Brown, warning that any further incursions would be met with force.

Brown ignored de Quesada’s warning, and sent Tomkinson and his men back into East Florida the following year. Tomkinson once again failed to locate any Seminoles, but his losses were much lower, and he was able to avoid a confrontation with Spanish troops. A third expedition in the spring of 1794 ended with Tomkinson attacking a Spanish settlement and killing several of the inhabitants. This prompted de Quesada to send a retaliatory expedition into Georgia which attacked and plundered several plantations near Augusta before returning to St. Augustine with over a hundred freed slaves.

Planning for a fourth expedition was postponed when word reached Savannah in the spring of 1795 that war in Europe was imminent between Britain’s Prussian ally and Spain’s French ally. With the prospect of general war in the offing, Brown issued a call for volunteers to form additional militia companies. By June 1795, a full regiment of provincial militia had been organized, and Tomkinson, now promoted to colonel, led them south across the Saint Marys River in a march on St. Augustine. [4] News of the Georgian attack on Florida reached London in August, prompting Prime Minister Sir Charles Jenckinson to issue a declaration of war against the Franco-Spanish alliance.

1. Harvey Ritter. Allen’s Irregulars: The History of a Brave People (London, 1967).

2. Jane McAlaister. The Birth of Indiana (Michigan City, 2007), pp. 74-88.

3. Bruce. The Life of Governor Theodorick Bland of Virginia, pp. 308-15.

4. Ralston Pickett. The Florida War (Cornwallis, 1841).


Noel Maurer said...

It turns out that Sobel put the cities of the Tennessee River Valley into Georgia, which means at a minimum that the Georgia-Tennessee border was drawn several miles to the north and at a maximum that North Carolina somehow gave up its western claims to Georgia.

Johnny Pez said...

I always interpreted "the Tennessee River area of Georgia" to mean "the section of the Tennessee River that runs through Georgia" rather than "the Tennessee River, which is in Georgia." It's possible that the Georgia-North Carolina border west of the Appalachians was drawn further north than in OTL, but the 35th parallel had already been pretty firmly established as the southern boundary of North Carolina before the POD.

Noel Maurer said...

Welcome to Sobel!

For reasons known only to him (well, it's not impossible) he put the prematurely industrializing heartland of the South in the Tennessee Valley. Given the geography, there's simply no way that doesn't turn Knoxville into a powerhouse, with Chattanooga not far behind. I'd have to re-read the passages, but my recollection is that there's no reasonable way to interpret them other than having all the major industrial cities of the Valley be in Georgia.

If I'm wrong, that's ok, but it's something to check. If the passage can't be interpreted other than as including the industrial heartland, then you're going to have to move the border somehow.

Noel Maurer said...

And can you put Minnesota into Manitoba? That would solve a lot of problems.

Johnny Pez said...

Ah, okay. In that case, it's a typo. The line should read "the Tennessee River area of North Carolina and Georgia". I guess the typesetters must have been on strike when Macmillan printed FWoaN.

As for Minnesota, I'll be giving it serious consideration.

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