This question originally appeared on Quora. It was taken from Quora’s “hypothetical battles” topic, where readers “can ask questions and get answer on fighting that wouldn’t likely or ever happen in real life.”
Answer by Jon Davis, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps: These are the accounts of the Second American Civil War, also known as the Wars of Reunification and the American Warring States Period. After the breakup, many wondered which states would come out in control of the power void created by the dissolution of the United States. There were many with little chance against several of the larger more powerful states. The states in possession of a large population, predisposition for military (i.e.) military bases, and a population open to the idea of warfare fared the best. In the long term, we would look to states with self-sufficiency and long term military capabilities. Here are the states that held the greatest strategic value from day one. They have the ability to be self-sufficient, economic strength, military strength, the will to fight, and the population to support a powerful war machine.
- New York
Others that have many of the qualities that gave them an advantage are also listed.
For all intents and purposes, Alaska and Hawaii ended well enough since they were so far removed from the center of the country that they never really suffer greatly nor benefit from the shattering.
Day 12: “It’s getting scary. My mom said we are going back to Oklahoma to stay with Grandma. The other day, my dad was yelling at some men at the door. They seemed really upset. I held Jamie. She is still little. She’s scared and doesn’t understand what is going on. I am scared too. There are also some boys at school who keep picking on her and calling her an “Okie.” We were both raised here, but I don’t really think that matters. All the other families on my street have huge one star flags hanging from their homes. I don’t want to leave my house, but Mom says we have to go. The highways are packed with people. I wish things would just go back to how it was.” The Diary of Sarah Brennan
First came a period of massive migration back to the homelands. Facing the newly invented discrimination that will be created, many felt the need to go back to their own people. While the individual states retained all military assets, they couldn’t control the individuals who fight. A Texas Marine stationed in California would not fight for California. A soldier in New York would not fight against her home in Virginia, and a sailor in Houston would not fight against his home state of Florida. The warriors returned to their home states, and the states had to re-consider that when they measured troop strength of their new nations. Ultimately, they measured troop strength by how much of the population would return home.
After the migrations, rough approximations left the states even, additionally, the balance of foreign nationals changed. At some point, there was a migration of people back to their non-United States homeland. Over the next several months, many from the North migrated to Canada and in the South to Mexico and South America. Millions of Latinos fled back South to the safety of their families and away from the looming danger of the war.
Day 42: “Citizens of California are advised to stay away from the Mexican Border. In response to the resent surge of immigrants back to Mexico, authorities out of Mexico City have closed the border, and agents from Tijuana are now manning armed sentries posted along the border. There have been scattered reports of refugees attempting to storm the gates being shot by soldiers on the Mexico side. It has also been communicated that the No-Mans land will be mined within the week, and that Mexico will not be allowing any non Mexican immigrants to enter the country from this point forward. Once again, we strongly advise all those wishing to leave the country to stay in their homes.”
Jennifer Aranda - Channel 14 News
The war was little more than a very tenuous peace for several months. The new nations were mostly focused on the re-consolidating of their forces and trying for quick grabs at resources that were easy to hold. Alliances were beginning to form as some of the smaller states sought to ally with known powers in the region.
The first of what we would call real battles was mostly when some of the regional powers overtook manly unmanned installations or take over now abandoned Federal assets.
Day 63: “We are gathered here today as the inheritors of a lost legacy. Our nation has been lost to shattering and disarray. For that reason, it is our duty to bring back our house to a structure undivided. When we arrived in the District, we found it empty and abandoned. The monuments to our civilization watched silently over the broken halls of our once proud Capitol. We came to the District to bring back order. We have done this deed, and now it is our charge to bring back the greatness of America and return her to her proud place of honor… We will do these things, and we will do the others because we are a great people. We are Americans. We are VIRGINIANS!” Inauguration speech of President Anthony Stokes
The first real occupation attempts happened when attempts were made to secure more assets. The Republic of Texas sought to gain strategic advantages in the Central United States. To do this, they sought to gain two strategic assets. The first was control of Whiteman AFB, the home of the B-2 bomber program. The base was easily secured, and the most coveted military bomber in the world was now in the hands of the Republic of Texas. The next was control of Colorado and her military installations of great value. Then finally was access to the Mississippi River. Two main offenses took place to do just that. The First Battle of New Orleans involved a massive force occupying the city to claim it as a port and artery for future engagements. In Colorado, they met stiff resistance as many of the Texas military were unfamiliar with Mountain warfare. Colorado’s major bases fell quickly since Colorado enjoys the smallest force to fight back the Texans, but they adapted an unconventional warfare stance that kept the Texans on edge for months. Still, at this point the mission behind taking Colorado had been achieved – control over its military bases and strategic assets. The insurgency does however slow down the growth of Texas. New York pushed Northward. They pushed to claim all of New England and the food wealth they will need to supply their people now that resources from the Midwest are no longer available. The take over is mostly peaceful as many of the states have large, but mostly non-military populations. They encountered problems when large groups of refugees tried to flee to Canada and rioting ensued. Illinois was calm. The Midwest Alliance grew steadily by seeking to secure the Great Lakes. They were able to take Ohio through a few fierce, but brief encounters. They also took on Minnesota and the mouth of the Mississippi River. The West coast was now controlled by the two main powers – California with its seat of power in San Francisco and The North West Union, centered in Seattle. California gained support and took control of all the states West of the Continental Divide and South of the Union. The North West Union pushed as far as Wyoming. In the South, Georgia gained strength as Alabama and South Carolina joined. The leadership of Georgia advocated a return to confederalism as fanatics gain headway among the people. The Neo-Confederacy movement takes root and spreads throughout the Old South and rekindles a sense of unity among the states who engaged on the side of the Confederacy during the First United States Civil War. Peacefully, they are able to convince Mississippi and Tennessee to also join. The growth of Confederate States put an ever growing pressure on Florida as it slipped into isolation. Virginia took on the mantle of the Restored United States. They assumed the moral responsibility for reunification, and by taking Washington, they were able to secure much of the federal assets and infrastructure available to the country before the collapse. They then commanded many ships and weapons housed overseas that weren’t lost during the first two months of disarray. They began to gather support among the neighboring states and press their advantages – intelligence, military strength, and the symbolic leadership they held by holding D.C. One strategic advantage they wished to push was their economy. While the rest of the former United States was in complete economic disarray, Virginian’s consistent use of the dollar provided a stability that others didn’t have. They wished to solidify this with control of the nation’s gold supply housed in a crossroads what was now a very desperate strategic region. After they peacefully brokered a treaty with Kentucky, they received an attack on Fort Knox from forces located in Indiana.
Day 112: “When we arrived at Knox, we received heavy resistance from the defenders. Their fire was, for the most part, inaccurate, and they lacked unit cohesion, so we found ourselves at an advantage. Not that we are much better off. We received intel that their units were something of a haphazard array of whatever Marine, Sailor, Soldier, or Airmen came out of the woodwork, and they just threw them together and called it a unit, much like our own. Still they were professional warfighters. We were lucky they hadn’t yet made it to secure the fort yet. Back to Knox. We were able to take the base. The fact was that the Kentucky defenders were mostly woodsmen and good-ol-boys from the South. More a militia reliving stories of the Old South than an army, but they fought like wild dogs. After a few hours, their main line broke and they retreated back towards the center of the state. About halfway through the day, we were able to break into the main buildings where the gold was supposed to be stored. Easily, it would be safe to say we were surprised at what we found. We arrived to find bloodstains in the main hallways and leading into the vaultroom. The trail faded and we see that the vaults are all completely empty. Every last bar, every last ounce is gone. All that is left are red stains all over the room and bullet holes riddling the walls that look like they could have happened months ago. Those hicks didn’t even know they were guarding a giant empty building. Now the big question we are left is…’So where is the gold?’”
Log of Lt Col. Thomas Scott 2nd Raider Battalion Midwestern Alliance.
At that time, the nations were coming together in larger groups. They had access to larger populations to support military strength, economic power to reach out and fund the state, food sources, and leadership. In the West, states along the coast received the most fighting. Washington began bombing San Francisco from the air to try and decapitate what had become the center of California’s leadership. Retaliation strikes from combined naval and air forces severally weakened Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle. California launched a two pronged attack by sending in land forces up Interstate Highway 5 and Marines to attack from the North. Their mission was to enter Washington through the Salish Sea and secure Mt. Vernon, preventing escape of enemy forces. The Marines were by and large undetected and completed their mission successfully. The Californian army received shelling on their movement near the town of Cresswell, Oregon. They retreated back to the nearby town of Cottage Grove and secured the Airport there. Now, a temporary air base had been established and sorties began taking place, allowing for the immediate deployment of troops to the defending town of Eugene. Casualties were high, but once Eugene was secured, the way was open to take Portland.
Day 234: “I don’t know what the Army is doing. We have been here holding the Canadian border for days, and the Army still isn’t made it past Eugene. Just get it out. Burn the city to the ground. Mow them down. Just do your damn job. It’s us or them. Make it happen for God’s sake.”In the East, the Restored United States was desperately in need of sound military strategy and allies. They had now become completely surrounded by enemy states. Such a solution came through the plan brought about by one General David Meznick. The Meznick doctrine called for the destruction of strategic economic assets in the North to weaken their ability to make war. The greatest of these were the attacks on the infrastructure of the Great Lakes’ shipping system. With the locks destroyed and Erie canal in ruins, shipping between Chicago and the outside world had ended. New York was also cut from its most valuable resource, which was the hope of once again shipping America’s goods to the rest of the world after the war. This maneuver had massive consequences to the region. Now deprived of many of their shipping lanes, the Midwest Alliance began to break as food and other supplies were unable to reach the people. Riots in Chicago began to erupt as the people accused the government of corruption, which for all purposes was true. Seeing the coming of the end, much of the Chicago legislature slipped out in the night and booked passage on private planes out to Montreal. Left without leadership and provisions, the Alliance crumbled. Its resources became split between the Texas Republic and Restored United States with what was now known as the New England Union claiming Ohio. In the South, tensions between Florida and the Neo-Confederates had reach their zenith. Troops had taken Tallahassee and were dug in along the Jacksonville-Gainesville Line. Florida was desperate. In a deal made in Houston, Florida agreed to join Texas if it was free to maintain its sovereignty in exchange for military support. With this, Florida and the forces staged in New Orleans attacked. The Jacksonville-Gainesville line was pushed back. Floridian forces moved with speed to besiege Atlanta as Texas occupied the city of Montgomery, Alabama. Texas and Florida forces converged on Atlanta and the siege went on for another month. No one really knows what led to the succeeding events, but a fire broke out in the city. Reports blame Texas shelling or Floridian sabotage, but most official accounts believe that it originated in an apartment complex where a family had been prying up floorboards to burn for heat. The fire spread to the rest of the neighborhood and, lacking their emergency infrastructure, parts of the city were overcome as the rest began to go into disarray. Texas forces secured the major areas of the city while Florida troops took charge of the relief effort for escaping refugees.
Private First Class Anthony Sullivan - 1st Californian Marine Regiment
Day 647: “I can’t believe Washington’s gone. I mean what are we even fighting for? There is nothing left that was the same. I swear I am starting to feel like all we are are animals trying to survive, fighting over the scraps of our fathers. We all knew it was over when D.C. got smoked, but at least that didn’t happen. Many of the men are still sure that NYC planned this out. Leave the rest to fight over the charred out ashes while they run from it all. I just don’t know what to think. Now we are inheriting the Northeast and all its problems. They better be ready. Now Texas has us to the West and South along Carolina. Two years this has been going on and for what? I don’t know how long we keep this going.”
Log of Col. Thomas Scott 1st Marine Regiment Restored United States.
Day 812: “When we arrived most the bodies had been carried away. Some were lined along the street covered in sheets of white, stained crimson. The town was in shock as our troops began filling the streets. Mothers were screaming with anguish as old men roared for action. There was talk of many of the men leaving an hour before we arrived to handle things themselves. I don’t think they know what they’re getting themselves into. We won’t be able to assist them. I feel for these people. I am shocked with them. They are Texas citizens now, and we let this happen. It won’t go unavenged for long though. I haven’t seen this many troops gathered like this since we took Atlanta. This is definitely going to be the big push we have all been waiting for to take California. All Hell is about to break loose. God protect us as we march on California.”
Journal of Sgt. Alexander McAnally 33rd Texas Infantry Regiment
A massive invasion force gathered at Rock Creek. Six divisions of the Texas Army and the 1st and 3rd Marines were mobilized for the battle. In the morning, B-2s from Whiteman AFB in Missouri began strategic bombing sorties against a number of Californian Union air bases. Conventional bombing missions were also launched. Suffering the greatest were bases near Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Air defense was launched from bases in San Diego, LA, and Sacramento with relief forces in the North. Next came what was known as the battle over Nevada. Fighter squadrons met over the desert in many numerous engagements to gain air superiority. Texas was equipped with superior aircraft since they were only power still investing heavily in improving their local manufacturing capabilities and advancing military technology. They also had the advantage of more experienced warfighters from the wars in the East. California was heavily invested in passive defense systems scattered throughout the desert. Their missile defenses tore heavily into the Texas planes. The air battle was by far the largest air battle in history with thousands of planes involved and hundreds lost to the skies. The fighters from Texas were able to protect bombers in raising the remaining defenses in Salt Lake and Las Vegas while severely damaging others in Los Angeles, San Diego, and China Lake. The Battle of Salt Lake began the Land War. With the region softened, Texas mobilized forces invaded Northern Utah by way of the Forward Operating Base Rock Creek and following Interstate 80. They met fierce resistance in Salt Lake city. Sniper and rifle teams were thoroughly entrenched along with machine gun nests. Five battalions of thoroughly entrenched Californian infantry were able to hold the city for three days against the overwhelming Texas forces while the air war continued over the sands of the Great American Desert. On the fourth day, a courageous day of fighting, the Californians retreated as relief troops arrived. The Texans were now dug into the hollowed out shell of the former capital of Utah. From this point, the Siege of Salt Lake lasted another three weeks. The battle continued on. Texas reinforcements joined on day six. The battle intensified. Texas was the first to escalate. M.O.A.B. bombs were dropped and cleared away a great deal of California defenders. Texas movements quickly divided and overwhelmed the Californians. Six thousand were lost, and the Californians retreated back to Sacramento. Once Salt Lake was secured, Republic forces moved on to Las Vegas. Vegas was easily secured after the battle of Salt Lake. Republic forces gathered in the desert city preparing for the a push to Los Angeles. As the army moved out, they destroyed the Hoover dam to prevent Las Vegas from becoming a strategic point again. This caused a surge in the Colorado river that destroyed the Davis, Parker, and Imperial Dam systems as well. The region would become by modern standards a completely uninhabitable desert again. It was then that something unexpected happened. The Restored United States attacked in an unsuspected maneuver designed to strike when the Republic and Californian Union were entangled and spread thin. General Meznick again planned out a massive attack to take out the knees from under the Republic forces. His plan was to take out the port at New Orleans and land a decisive series of blows against Texas. As Republic troops moved out to Southern Nevada, covert agents blew the dikes holding back the flood waters from the Gulf. The city, its troops, its ships, and resources were all flooded and in disarray. Air strikes and land forces were also made on the stations and bases along the Mississippi River, including Whiteman and the B-2’s stationed there. Transport boats carried thousands to secure the bases along the river down to Baton Rouge. From there, bombers cleared a path through to Beaumont, TX and on to Houston. Texas Defense forces scrambled to meet the invasion. With eyes to the West, few were prepared for an attack in the heart of Texas. Reserves from Dallas and Austin raced to Houston. The battle intensified. After the destruction of New Orleans, naval forces stationed in the Atlantic maneuvered to support the Texas invasion. Without the support of the New Orleans ships at port, the Republic Navy was overcome. Naval bombardment was laid down on the defenders in Houston, paving the way for the surgical team of RUS soldiers and the wave of troops following the river. The defenses were hindered by the sea of terrified citizens fleeing Houston. As shells rained down from the sea, chaos ensued. The city was going to be lost. With the loss of Houston imminent, Republic soldiers spread thin on two fronts, and the country severed down the spine of the Mississippi, Texas made a last desperate strike. It is believed the first city to fall was Chicago. Boston and Philadelphia came shortly after. At the same time, San Francisco and Seattle were lost. Retaliatory strikes claimed Austin, Houston, Atlanta, and Oklahoma City. It is believed that many other cities were targeted for destruction, if not for the intervention of some unknown power. Four high altitude nuclear devices were detonated over the former United States. These weapons showered the region with energized electrons that shorted the circuits of electrical devices in their target radius. Below is a graphic representation of what this blast did to the United States.
The four devices together were seen from various parts of the country. Their effects brought down all major computer systems, information networks, communication relays, and nearly all circuit based technology on the continent. There is no official record of who fired the weapons. Any logs created were probably lost in the very blast they created. Many believe that it was a last ditch effort to limit the destruction of the United States in the event of Atomic Holocaust. Some believe it was due to international intervention. The world’s final discipline upon us for what we were doing. Many of the religious groups who would come from this era, believe it was the work of God, though they can’t agree if it was a sign of his mercy or punishment upon a sinful nation. Whoever was responsible, the truth is that the devices probably stopped more bombs than actually went off that day, but they didn’t protect anyone from the next five years. America was dark.
Day 842: “I was out on the porch catching fireflies with Jamie on the night the lights went out. We had caught a whole jar full when I saw a bright light come from the sky way far off in the North. Daddy screamed and jumped on us as he held me really close as we fell to the ground. The light grew really bright and then all of a sudden this wind crashed the field. The wind whooshed through like it was going to carry Daddy and me away. Then it went away. I looked up and the light in the sky faded away. I watched it dim until it turned to nothing. Then I looked around and realized I couldn’t see anything. All the lights in the house went off. All the other houses did too. All the street lights were off and the whole town was dark. I asked Daddy what had happened. “I don’t know Sweetie. We need to get back into the house before it gets too cold.” I looked hard and tried to find a path back to the porch. Then I saw the light flicker on Jamie’s cheek. The jar in her hand began to flicker, and I could see the fireflies coming back to life. It wasn’t much, but they were only lights for miles and Jamie was all I could see.” The Diary of Sarah Brennan
Day 846: I don’t know which is worse, the casualties we suffered at Salt Lake or the retreat back through the Sierra Nevadas. We lost the vehicles and had to go the rest of the way on foot once we reached the California border. All the trucks stopped dead and everything’s gone silent. We have lost all contact with San Francisco. I am trying to keep the men going, but I honestly don’t know if I am going to be able to keep any of us alive. The snow is thick and is keeping us moving at a crawl. Foraging is not providing us the food we need. We have already lost as many men trying to get back to the base as we did in the battle. My greatest fear is that the men will begin to realize where we are. I don’t know why God would put me in this situation in the middle of the Donner Pass. Please don’t let the men know what happened here and start to get any ideas. We are no longer being pursued. Perhaps they know how desperate we are. Please Lord, just let us make it out the pass.”
Log of Lt. Joseph Ramirez, 3rd California Infantry Regiment
After the collapse came the period historians remember as the American Dark Age. Five years passed. With all the infrastructural losses came a loss in leadership. The cities were evacuated due to no water, food, or power coming in. Towns like Ardmore, Oklahoma became overnight metropolises, taking in the flood of humanity escaping from cities like Dallas and the ruins of Oklahoma City. A local Indian casino to the South from before the war became a refugee camp for more than 60,000 people. The Oklahomans welcomed them warmly as now there was no war. There was no Texas, nor California, and certainly no America. Now everyone was simply a survivor of the Second American Civil War. In the chaos of the collapse, micro wars sprang up. With no government protection, towns and villages attacked one another. Local sheriffs declared themselves generals of fifty man armies. Much of the former United States fell into a feudal bid for power waging county against county and town against town. They fought battles over salt mines, water from a local creek, or farmland. In the South, a plague swept through the countryside. Many reputable reports indicated that it happened when the controls at the CDC in Atlanta were destroyed after the bombing or from the EMP. Genocides and ethnic cleansing also scarred the landscape in Chicago, Alabama, Miami, and Los Angeles. It was towns like Ardmore that finally brought us out of the dark. They rebuilt the agricultural backbone and got people back to work now that peace was assured through the destruction of the capacity to make war by the large nation states. Veterans gathered to provide a unified defense force for the new agrarian cultures that built themselves out of the ashes. New farms were established and refugees built homes all along the landscapes. As food became less of an issue for the people, factories began to rise again. The infrastructure began returning as power was restored, transformers were replaced, networks were brought back online. As the towns became secure and prosperous again, people moved back into the cities. Dallas, Sacramento, Columbus, and Richmond rose to become important regional powers again. The eyes of the nation looked to these cities as fears of the rekindling of the Unification wars began to surface. Old hatreds began to echo. It was from Dallas that a movement started. One young girl led a peace movement from the heart of the former Republic of Texas.
Day 2871: “This girl in Texas is calling for us to formally end the hostilities. I don’t know if I could ever trust someone from Texas again, but she was just a girl when this whole thing started. It’s not like she is to blame for anything, but it is just hard to get behind someone from down there. We are tired, there isn’t anything left worth fighting for. If there is anything left it would have to be that this has to end before it all happens again.” Sgt. Anthony Sullivan - California Civil Restoration Administration
Day 2912: “Give this girl your support. What we did was criminal. As a people, we destroyed what took great men hundreds of years to bring together. It took us less than two years to bring each other to the brink. We lost our greatest cities and our best people. Now there is one of our own calling for repentance and recompense. Pray for her strength and success.” Pastor Joseph Ramirez
Day 2945: “There’s going to be a peace conference in New York City. They’re back up and running for the most part. Hopefully we can do something good there. I will be part of the delegation from the RUS. We haven’t thought of ourselves as that for years. Still, we have to go and let it be known that Columbus doesn’t want anymore fighting. We are more than this collection of third world city states that are built on the breakdown of our legacies. I hope this little girl from Dallas is more than hopes and dreams.” Mayor Thomas Scott of Columbus
Day 2953: As the much talked about New York City peace accords prepare to open, all the attention of the country is on this girl from Oklahoma. She was one of the early people to flee with her family from Texas. She, with her father, mother, and young sister, lived with family on a small farm in Southern Oklahoma. There, they survived the conscription notices for service, the bombings, The Dark, and the two year winter. She took up work in an old cookie factory, now shelling pecans from local harvests. After the Dark, she administered relief efforts at a local Indian casino for refugees fleeing Texas after the they lost power and feared their own annihilation. She was able to gain respect and was eventually made responsible for finding the refugees work on the local farms. Thousands knew her for work and generosity. She built up relief shelters to gather together aid to the refugees and give them jobs. While still barely in her twenties, she was one of the main people responsible for the rebuilding of vital resources in Oklahoma City. When the lights came back online and grocery shelves were stocked again in Dallas, she was there. Pushed into local politics, she was a unifying force for the region. While in Dallas, she championed a peace movement. Dallasites and Texans began to question if the war should continue, if their safety could be secured with the history of the war and Texas’ role in it. She was the voice of reason in a sea of fears. She gained support from those she helped, and her message spread across lands owned by the Republic and all the way to Columbus and Sacramento. Now leaders from across America are going to New York City and are meeting for the first time since the break-up of the United States to discuss a resolution to the failed Wars of Reunification. In her honor, the much talked about Brennan Treaty will be presented to the delegation, ratified, and hopefully pass within the week. Here’s to hope and to Sarah Brennan.
Jennifer Aranda - New San Diego Union Tribune
- End Sources:
List of U.S. states and territories by population (wikipedia.org)
John Burgess’s answer to Military: Which states commit the most troops to the US Military?
Jon Davis’s answer to Hypothetical Battles: If every nation in the world allied and attempted to invade and conquer the United States, would they succeed?
All the other answers on Hypothetical Battles: If every state of the USA declared war against each other, which would win?
I was also inspired by watching some of my favorites on human nature and warfare Hotel Rawanda and Red Dawn. Just be thankful I didn’t rewatch the documentary series “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.”
More questions on Hypothetical Battles: