|In at the Death|
|Publication date||July 7, 2007|
|Preceded by||The Grapple|
This alternative history began with the Confederate States of America winning the American Civil War in 1862, followed by an 1880s war between the rump United States of America and the CSA which is also won by the South. Thirty years later the North, allied with the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire, wins an alternative World War I over the South and its allies, Britain, France, Tsarist Russia. As in our actual timeline, another World War follows two decades later, and the North and its primary ally, the German Empire, wins the Second Great War against the Confederates and their primary allies, Britain and France.
The United States campaigns reflects William Sherman's march to the sea as U.S. armies drive through the center of the Confederacy, while a second U.S. force drives into Virginia to capture Richmond. The Confederacy (with some quiet help from Great Britain) manages to produce an atomic bomb. The bomb is smuggled via truck into the de facto U.S. capital of Philadelphia, and detonated; however, the bomb is detonated only on the city's outskirts and does not damage any government buildings. In retaliation, the United States detonate nuclear bombs at Newport News, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina. The Newport News bomb narrowly misses Confederate President Jake Featherston.
Texas declares independence from the Confederacy and signs a separate peace with the United States. Jake Featherston attempts to escape to the Deep South but his plane is shot down. He survives the crash landing, only to be shot and killed by a black guerrilla, Cassius Madison. The fourth and presumably final war between the United States and Confederate States ends officially on July 14, 1944, at 6:01 p.m after an unconditional surrender is signed between General Irving Morrell and the acting Confederate President Don Partridge.
The United States begin full occupation of the former Confederate States and Canada, though Texas apparently remains independent but still hosts American soldiers in its territory. For the first time in almost a century America, the Stars and Stripes flies over the whole of the pre-1861 United States territory, and Americans express their determination not to ever let go of the former Confederate territories, after Featherston came so close to crushing them.
The Confederates are bitter and far from reconciled to their fate, constantly attacking the occupying US forces, despite the grim retaliations including the execution of civilian hostages. Though outlawed, the Freedom Party is a still very much an active underground force.
Moreover, the United States itself - while dissolving the Confederate government and declaring a firm intention never to let it rise again, in 1944 - refrains from any formal annexation and (re)admitting Southern states to the Union, since any kind of free elections would likely fill Congress with the United States' most staunch enemies. Rather, the former Confederate territories are left in the same kind of legal limbo in which Canada has been since 1917, offered neither independence nor civil rights and kept under an open-ended, harsh military rule.
Despite the major victory won by the US, the war has not truly ended, but rather changed form. To their chagrin, most of the soldiers and sailors conscripted "for the duration" are not discharged but set to occupation duty. The US is faced with the daunting task of keeping under indefinite, harsh military occupation vast rebellious territories with hostile populations, with the conquered Confederate territories added to the previously held Canadian ones, as well as the smaller Mormon Utah.
And at the same time, the Nuclear Age was launched with the destruction of three cities in America and six in Europe, and a fast scramble to obtain nuclear arms by powers not yet possessing them. The United States and Germany are allied in trying to prevent Russia and Japan from going nuclear, but these efforts are depicted as doomed to failure; the relationship between the United States and Germany may be somewhat less friendly, despite President Thomas Dewey's doctrine of the two powers acting as global policemen. Moreover, aside from the nuclear issue, Japan is seen as presenting an unresolved problem to the US - having consolidated its hold on the Western Pacific and the East Indies, it is a concrete threat to Australia. Having to deal with the Confederacy - either as a belligerent neighbor or as a rebellious occupied territory - the US can spare only limited resources for confronting Japan, and the idea of "an island-hopping campaign" across the Pacific is rejected out of hand by many.