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The US Civil War runs normally until August 1863, when the fictional nation Mexicatan (all of Central America minus the Panama islands) joins the CSA in invading the Western USA. Mexicatan is a puppet state for France, being a distant work around to Russia's threat of war if they get involve for the South.

With the help of Mexicatan, the Confederacy invades the Caribbean Sea in 1864. They succeed in taking over most of the islands, minus some that are closer to South America. Europe doesn't get involved because they are busy with more important things and none have a major stake due to lack of colonies.

The nations Deseret (Utah) and Second Nation (the Dakotas, parts of Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana) form, splitting away from the USA. Another fictional nation, the UAA or United Amazonian Alliance, (all of South America and the Panama islands) offers to help the USA, if they launch a successful campaign to reclaim the Caribbean Sea.

The UAA has a navy that rivals the British, with a large army that is highly trained, mostly against European tactics. In mid-1865, a book on how to advance their nation to 1930s era tech by 1868 is sent to all existing nations at the time.

The USA was able to get their hands on some additional blueprints that gave them a bit more of a technology edge over the rest, leading them to have 1910-era technology by early 1866 while the CSA only has technology equivalent to that of the 1890s.

In order to secure their new allies, both sides send their top Generals for the job to the Caribbean Sea. My problem is I'm not as familiar with the naval side of the Civil War outside of the Anaconda plan. I'm just looking at CSA, USA, and the French Foreign Legion for their best commanders to lead this campaign.

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    $\begingroup$ In 1864, Cuba and Puerto Rico belonged to Spain, Jamaica belonged to the United Kingdom, Martinique and other bits and pieces belonged to France, and so on. If the non-existent Mexican fleet even thought about invading, the European powers would get involved really quick and crush the insolent upstarts. And nobody in the entire world had a navy that rivalled the British; not even all the rest of the world combined. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 12 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ VTC:Opinion Based. It doesn't help that per the help center, we do not help people write their stories. Asking how long a series of actions would take place is 100% your story and has nothing to do with story-independent rules of your world. But the real problem is that it can take as little or as much time as you, the author, wants. There is no one right answer. Any answer can be rationalized by you, the author, creating circumstances that rationalize it. An action like you've described could take weeks or months, or years or decades... you're choice and they're all "realistic." $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 12 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH, fair enough, I was just looking for a more realistic answer. I'm not an armchair general. I don't know how realistic island warfare in the Caribbean Sea would look like. I understand I could just give one side nukes and boom, problem solved. I was hoping people would have a better idea on how either side would conduct island warfare. I'll change the question that way. $\endgroup$
    – Sage Grant
    Feb 13 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ @SageGrant You've stumbled on two common problems. First, we only address half the author's problem: we help build the framework used for the story. The other half is how to tell the story, which is best taught in a creative writing class. Second, it's been a mind-numbing fad for the last 2-3 years for everything to be "as realistic as possible." What new authors don't seem to understand is there's a limit after which "realistic" is no longer relevant to any reader but a PhD in the specific context. In short: it doesn't matter how long it takes so long as it makes sense in your story. ... $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 14 at 19:03
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    $\begingroup$ ... To make that point, your story (like most stories) likely doesn't pause for every meal, every bathroom break, every sneeze... Nor do you pause the story to discuss every wheel stuck in the mud, or every soldier with water-soaked feet. The list of "realistic" details is endless. The skill you need to learn is when to stop worrying about "realism," especially when you're writing a work of fiction in an imaginary alternate universe. But, if you insist... study both the island-hopping of WWII and Cook's travels in the Pacific by sail. A "realistic" answer is in the middle $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 14 at 19:09

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First, get clear what this is:

  • In the real history (original timeline, OTL), the battle was lost for want of a nail to hold the horseshoe of the horse of the courier, as the proverb goes. In an alternate history, the nail was available, or the the good prince did not die in childhood, or the famine did not strike, or whatever, and things develop from there in a more or less plausible manner.
  • In some time travel stories, there is a science fictional element which violates science as we know it, since time travel is not viewed as practical today. In others, the travel is plainly magical, or not explained. Yet time travel is a common literary trope. Once the time travelers get into action, you get a time travel paradox -- if things turned out the way they wanted, why did they go back to change history?

Pick one or the other, and go with it. Don't meep it muddled in your own mind.

Now to the story:

  • Having various large, unified countries in the western hemisphere would be hard to explain unless you have dozens of different meddling time travelers, working at cross purposes. Some support the USA, some the CSA, some yet other countries ...
    Much easies to keep with two groups of time travelers, one supporting the North and one supporting the South.
  • Have the supporters of the South start a bit earlier, helping the slave-holding plantation owners to expand their influence in Mexico and Central America. The Monroe Doctrine sort of holds, except for the existing European colonies, but it is not applied when domestic factions meddle in places south. Think banana republic, except that it is sugar and cotton, not yet fruit.
  • The supporters of the South start by improving steam ships and refrigeration, to turn the proverbial banana republics into literal ones. The ships are built in the South, but the shipyards rely on parts and machine tools from the more industrialized North, where other time travelers try to push rail and heavy industry.
  • Then the war breaks out, for much the same reasons as it did in the OTL. With good ships, the CSA maintains both exports to Europe and imports from South America. Ongoing trade helps to make up for their inferior industrial base, and it prompts powerful European countries to pressure both sides into an armistice. The Europeans want to buy cotton, sugar, and bananas, and they are willing to wring their hands and hold their noses where those come from.
  • Either time travelers continue to provide blueprints, or they did deliver one batch each and it took a long time to turn ideas into hardware (people have to build the tools to build the tools to build the tools first). A greater population allows the North faster progress, also aided by certain ideological blinders in the South (where plantation owners want to preserve the primacy of agriculture over industry).
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  • $\begingroup$ Not your usual time travelers, more like someone made a deal with the devil, then shared blueprints to try to get all of humanity to destroy itself through warfare. $\endgroup$
    – Sage Grant
    Feb 13 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ This did get me to give a more logical answer to why they would/could invade the Caribbean Sea. Due to the Monroe doctrine and a similar doctrine by the UAA, the European powers were unable to get much of a foot hold in Central America and were unable to colonize much. This left the Caribbean sea easier to invade. With a lack of competition from European powers, the South starts making banana republics, leading to them being able to keep up with the North via trade. $\endgroup$
    – Sage Grant
    Feb 13 at 13:33

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