On both Homeline and Riel, Field-Marshall Garnet Wolseley’s American adventures are overshadowed by his achievements both before and afterwards; it is merely that on Homeline those adventures lasted a decade. On Riel, a slightly embarrassing episode involving Confederate sympathizers made it politic for Wolseley to take up a useful position in Europe… a move that did nothing to hinder his personal career, but did quite a bit to stifle the Dominion of Canada in its cradle.
War looms across the northern border of the United States, as the British Empire tries to distance themselves from the coming storm.
Divergence Point: In 1862, Lt. Colonel Garnet Wolseley declared persona non grata by the American government.
Western (Empire with rivals), Orthodox (empire), Chinese (Empire)
Great Britain (ogliarchy, CR3), United States of America (democratic republic, CR2, CR5 for blacks), Republic of France (democratic republic, CR3), Russian Empire (dictatorship, CR4), Chinese Empire (dictatorship, CR5), Rupert’s Land Republic (theocracy, CR5)
Mana Level: none
Centrum Zone: Inaccessible
Infinity Level: P10
Even inhabitants of Riel itself will now concede that is was unfair to blame the collapse of the Red River Expedition upon Captain William Otter, who took command after his original superior officer managed to drunkenly get himself drowned in six inches of water; the expedition was clearly doomed from the start. It would have taken a logistical genius to get the men and weapons involved transported across the Canadian wilderness, given the lack of roads – and given that the American government adamantly refused to let the expedition cross the border. None the less, he did take the blame at the time – and, indirectly, the blame for the fall of the Canadian Confederation. This meant, indirectly, that Louis Riel’s Red River Settlement was able to become the independent Rupert’s Land Republic more or less by default.
The cleverness of the Americans in helping to achieve this – which was widely believed to be the trigger for the British government’s decision to sell off the North-Western territory to the United States in 1872 – was called into question in 1876, when it became clear that Prime Minister Riel was willing to sell weapons and provisions to any Indian tribe ready to purchase them. Riel had reacted badly to reports of the Red River War between the US government and the Comanche, and was openly supportive of the struggles of the Lakota, Sioux, Cheyenne, Nez Pierce, Piaute, and other tribes. This extended towards providing them shelter; Republican militia nearly provoked a war in 1877 with the United States through their connivance in helping the Nez Pierce escape across the American border. It was that incident that also effectively confirmed the independence of the RLR from the British Crown, although the illusion is preserved to this day.
The past decade has indicated a steady decay in relations between the Republic and the United States, as Prime Minister Riel becomes ever more convinced of his messianic role for the North American continent. While his country has been protected in the past by the British Empire, they too are becoming concerned – distracting the Americans is all very well, but the Riel government also seems increasingly ready to try to take full control of the Dominions of Quebec and Victoria as well. Since his election in 1884, President Custer has been quietly preparing for war with the RLR; and the British government is very much aware that further “independent” raids on American settlements in Montana or the Yukon are liable to provoke one. The result will be bloody: the RLR cannot hope to conquer the USA, but conquering it will be difficult. Either way, her Majesty’s government would rather not be sucked into the conflict, particularly since doing so would put Britain’s remaining American possessions at risk.
This explains why they are sending General Viscount Wolseley, fresh from his successful relief of Gordon and Khartoum, to command her Majesty’s Quebecois troops. At the least, it is hoped that this will be enough to dissuade the Americans from doing anything too rash – and, at best, it might prove useful to have the general on hand to resolve the actual status of the RLR…
Infinity is, truth be told, not particularly interested in this timeline. There are no interesting reality shards, no Centran plots to foil, no spectacular technologies or exotic art forms to steal; out-world criminal activity is nil and the tourism opportunities are not particularly noteworthy. Outside of the United States and Canada, most of the world is effectively unchanged from that of Homeline’s, allowing for a certain amount of research into historical figures, but even then there are enough small changes to make the findings suspect. Infinity’s presence on Riel is thus marginal.
This pleases a lot of Homeline’s national governments, who have been quietly, if licitly, placing military observers into North America for several years now. The various national militaries are still in the process of adapting standard tactical doctrine to reflect the broad range of technologies and resources now suddenly available across the timelines; the coming war between the USA and RLR should be of some interest, given that both sides are both reasonably industrialized and confined to a single geographical feature. All five veto powers are currently involved in the surveillance, although naturally the American and British contingents are the ones most “public” about it. Note: while not ready to actually kill anyone to keep the war going, the military observation team is not interested in stopping it, either – and interfering with them can be seen as endangering the Secret…
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