A New DawnEdit
1903 was shaping up to be a bad year of President Roosevelt. The war was going badly and only seemed to be going worse. In the East the Philippines had fallen to Japanese ground troops and the American Pacific fleet was being savaged by joint Anglo-Japanese attacks. Many feared an invasion of Hawaii and rumors of a landing in California were widespread. While the limited attacks in western Canada had born fruit, conquering a vast empty wilderness did little to calm the public, especially after the brutal attacks from the press over the bungling of east Canada. With TR constantly intervening the attacks across the Great Lakes had been a disaster in every way and had damaged what remained of the America military.
To the south, the Bahamas had fallen to British landings, while Venezuela was under the German boots. The German landings had went off smoothly inspiring many in the German High Command to consider more amphibious landings. Many Southern cities had been shelling and the American fleet was either sunk or hiding in port. The American tactic of trying to harass the German-British supply lines had failed due to the sheer number of British escorts and a system of primitive convoying (which the Germans scorned).
Still, some hope remained, although the press and the average person was likely to see otherwise. Due to the loss of west Canada, and the unpopularity of the war back home, by early summer Britain had begun peace talks and were hoping to make a private deal. TR hoped that when Britain pulled out, it would change everything. Still even now progress was made. Massive amounts of government hired 'workingmen' swarmed over war damage in the South, putting out fires, re-running water pipes, rebuilding whole blocks. Roosevelt pushed for these massive apportions of funds through a mostly stunned Congress.
The '03 BoysEdit
Thousands of troops were hastily trained and sent to the fronts. While the training was poor, their numbers were huge as volunteers from the heady days of the start of the war were finally processed and sent to fight. Massive amounts of troops were sent to patrol the entire Gulf Coast, men that would (in hindsight have been badly needed elsewhere). Many 'armchair' generals commented that the massive home defence forces were responsible for the loss of the Bahamas and the failure of taking east Canada. Still, despite this, many soldiers had been left in Cuba, and more were filtered in through blockade runners and massive convoys. Many American ships were building in ports, and with the vision of the Royal Navy leaving the war on the horizon, many American admirals were ready to regain their honor on the high seas.
Britain Pulls OutEdit
In July, the Treaty of Lisbon was signed, which ended the hostilities between America and Britain. The treaty accepted all lands taken by force of arms during the war. So, west Canada changed hands,and the Bahamas. Japan also has involved but their negotiations were dragging on, in regards to the massive numbers of POWs in the Philippines. Still, all fighting had stopped between any Anglo-Japanese forces and American ones. The treaty was celebrated in the streets as American began to focus grimly on Germany.
As soon as the Royal Navy left the seas, the balance of power abruptly changed. With the removal of all the British destroyers and escorts, the German supply lines were left vulnerable. Ships from ports are varied as New York, Norfolk and Puerto Rico began to disgorge American ships. Soon the German High Seas Fleet found itself in trouble. Accustomed to having British help, they found themselves unprepared for the widespread fleet actions. Every attempt by German admirals to have a 'decisive battle' failed as American skippers avoided pitched battles.
The Last BlowEdit
Best Laid PlansEdit
It soon became clear to the Berlin High Command that the war could not be 'won' in the current fashion. With each passing day the American's grew stronger and more numerous. While they were strongly entrenched in Venezuela it was feared that eventually America would land and free it. At sea the High Seas Fleet was suffering from over-work, short supplies, and illness from operating in a unfamiliar tropical environment. As these distressing reports came in, it became clear a change of strategy was needed if Germany wanted to humble America fully and emerge from the war untarnished by Britain bolting. It was in this atmosphere that a new plan was developed.
Mainly constructed by Ludendorff , who had always been a moderate toward the war, the new plan called for a massive blow against the USA. This thinking arose from the idea that if American had a huge setback the populace would end the war. Knowing that anti-war sentiment ran high, German leaders hoped to use democracy against America and use voter dissatisfaction to their advantage. Hoping that a massive victory would cement their 'victory' the Germans began planning for a great battle. Still, their options were limited.
No naval battle would have the scale necessary, and didn't have the same guarantee of victory. As fall went on, American ships grew more daring and rumors of American submarines filled wardrooms and command rooms alike. This fear, combined with a steadily degrading naval arm, led Germany away from a strictly naval approach.
A land invasion was seen as the only option but few places presented themselves. Further action in South America was considered (mainly Columbia) but it contained few American forces and its lack of transportation infrastructure hindered any decisive campaigns. One idea that was considered was a land invasion of the American homeland. This idea never went much farther then wishful thinking. No move would more unite the American people behind the war, and the logistics of any sustained assault were horrifying. With harried supply lines, an increasingly sophisticated enemy, and confused high level planning, any amphibious assault on America was ruled out.
Ludendorff is credited with formulating the plan that was eventually carried out. Sensing that he had no other options, he proposed a massive attack against Cuba. The island was a keystone in American defence. Havana held many American ships, and the island held thousands of American troops. But most crucially Germany held command of the sea around it, therefore controlling any lines of retreat for the Americans. Any victory would be decisive and absolute.
The “Cuban Operation” began with a huge build-up of supplies and ships. Men were gathered from all over Venezuela to designated ports for loading. Despite the size and scale of the logistics the Germans did their very best to keep the operation a secret from the Americans. They did a surprisingly good job for all the technical and geographic handicaps they operated under. Indeed, Washington was plagued by a constantly blank idea of enemy plans.
No leaks informed Washington although process of elimination helped narrow it down. Most counted out an invasion of the mainland. Who would try something that crazy? Columbia was picked as the most likely target but it was hard to re-enforce. Still, as German ships were gathered together near Venezuela, blockade runners and small convoys had more luck. Troops were rushed to Columbia, Puerto Rico and Cuba. Cuba was second in priority and much entrenching was done, re-enforcing the old Spanish garrisons. With thousands of fresh troops pouring into Cuba, and American ships began to pressure the (now reduced) Atlantic supply lines Germany was rolling the dice on this last operation.
In late October, they struck as hard as they could. German ships placed a strict blockade all around the island, hoping to cut off all re-enforcements and retreats. While the High Seas Fleet was able to blockade, it gave up strength everywhere else and began to pay for it as American ships began cutting the Atlantic supply lines, shell Venezuela and even land troops in Columbia. Still, these were all secondary to the huge operation in Cuba.
Thousands of troops were landed on landing sites. Only two had been selected, both on the south side of the island, to be closer to Venezuela depots. Still, despite picking the landings out with great care, problems began to pop up as soon as troops began landing. While American troops were limited in the area they fought tenaciously, slowly everyone down. And most German commanders felt that many more were on the way.
Thousands of men, untrained in seaborne landings caused chaos behind German lines. Supplies began to stack up on the beach as orders were lost, re-written or ignored. Men were ordered from one beach to another as they frantically tried to keep up with the stringent and aggressive orders from Berlin. Still, the fighting quality of the Germans shone through and they managed to take and hold beachheads. Aggressively attacking into dense forest and wetlands, they pursed America troops wherever they went and lugged heavy artillery through heavy underbrush.
The Situation TurnsEdit
Despite this super human efforts however, the assault began to bog down. Supplies grew scarier and scarier as American resistance grew more formidable as re-enforcements were brought up. Tropical disease and unaccustomed heat took their heavy toll. After nearly two weeks of success, Germans troops had finally reached their limit. German ships were weary and worn after spending so much time at sea, constantly on the lookout for the numerous American ships.
American skipper became famous in papers as they 'ran' the German blockade, laying mines next to German beaches or bringing in supplies and men to the fighting forces. Far out in the Atlantic American ships had finally become numerous enough to attack German ships in full engagements and while most actually ended in German victories, the small but constant strain was wearing the German fleet out.
As this dismal naval news reached Berlin in mid-November another, even more strategic piece news hit the papers. America and Japan had finally worked a treaty and the war in the Pacific was over! Dozens of fresh ships and thousands of men would soon be pouring into the last theater of war against the weary Germans. This grim news filled the hearts and minds of the men on Cuba and the already low morale plunged deeper as German troops were pushed back, now into shrinking beachheads.
For the first time, America was behind the war. TR, ever quick to gauge opinion began campaigning with “The War is Won” everywhere, beginning to eye the election year of 1904. Anti war figures like Eugene V. Debs and William Jennings Byran were pushed from the limelight for a period of time. With support behind him, a army growing more competent by the day and an aggressive Navy, Roosevelt found himself quite satisfied with the way thing were. Still, the war should be ended soon, while the current mood lasted, and the Germans were desperate for terms.
A Truce for Twenty YearsEdit
The Resulting Treaty of Paris was the start of a new era for many reasons. Even the choice of the city has great meaning. Holding the talks in Paris showed that America could now never go back to its isolationist stance and would be involved in Europe. Also, it showed the growing connection of France to America. Re-discovering their ancient ties to one another, relations were growing warm as the fear of a London-Berlin axis swept the globe. The fact that America could have the peace talks in the capital of a close ally showed who had the better negotiating stance.
With this all in mind the seemingly endless peace talks began around Christmas 1903. Theodore Roosevelt himself made the journey although he did not stay the whole time. For weeks the talks seemed to drag on. Meanwhile German and American forces had a uneasy truce, both sides ready to pick up fighting again, in particular at sea. It was this fear of re-igniting the conflict that finally ended the talks. The Treaty was a compromise between the two nations, and neither got all they wanted. The single largest point was that Germany be allowed to keep Venezuela. American had not wanted to give up on this point, but it seemed absurdly difficult to force Germany to lose their new won colony. The other major American concession was the understanding that Germany could run a canal through Nicaragua. Again, Roosevelt was bothered by this, but it was important to keep the war going.
On the German side, they were required to pay massive indemnities to help pay for the American re-building efforts as well as for loss of trade from Venezuela.