US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today.
Plain Old Dave
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US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby Plain Old Dave » 06 Dec 2017 01:51

Summer 1915, after the Lusitania...

A few ideas for consideration:

Political. In Summer 1915, the Archangel Woodrow would still have the 1916 re-election to consider and Pershing's star didn't really rise til after the Punitive Expedition. At this point, Pershing was still a relatively unknown Brigadier General. Leonard Wood, on the other hand, was a hero of the Spanish-American War and just wrapping up his tour as Chief of Staff of the US Army (uniformed head of the Army). In those days, it wasn't definitely expected that senior generals would retire from their posts and Wood was relatively closely allied with Republicans and as commander of an AEF in 1915 would help with Republican support of the war.

Military. The Entente wasn't as bled out as they were in 1917, and Russia was still a player. Too, U-boat tactics weren't as refined as they would become, so Germany might not have been as effective in trying to bring the war to a decision as the later 1916-17 campaign was on track to be. To be fair, though, the Army elements of a 1915 AEF wouldn't have had the experience of the Punitive Expedition, and the Tampico Affair in 1914 was naval infantry and Marine Detachments from the involved ships. Business as usual for the Marines. At sea, though, an American squadron at Jutland might have sealed the gap the Germans escaped through.

But this is at least to me an interesting idea; what if the US declared war on Germany in the aftermath of the Lusitania sinking? Floor's open.
Last edited by Plain Old Dave on 06 Dec 2017 04:13, edited 1 time in total.

maltesefalcon
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby maltesefalcon » 06 Dec 2017 04:05

There was outrage in the US to be sure. But the American dead were in a vessel was sailing under a British flag carrying ammunition into a war zone. The Germans were trying to blockade the UK with their only viable weapon, the UBoat.
Stopping and/or sinking of vessels trying to run a blockade was fairly common in modern times.

The US did it themselves, routinely stopping or seizing British or French vessels trying to run the Union blockade in the US Civil War.

I don't think Wilson could have gotten the votes to go to war in 1915. (There were parallels in WW2. Roosevelt was more warlike, but did not ask for a declaration of war on Germany for attacks on the Kearny or Reuben James, because he would not get the votes either.)

In 1915, no one could have known how much longer the Great War would last or even if US interests were really threatened. More importantly would those interests be improved by choosing sides?

Its a tough call...

Hoist40
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby Hoist40 » 06 Dec 2017 13:34

The US Army would have big shortages of weapons, ammunition, equipment to a much greater level in 1915 then it did in 1917

US industry was not geared up for producing such equipment for the allies in 1915 as it was in 1917

The allies had their own shortages of such equipment in 1915 so they could not sell to the US Army.

A big example is rifles, in 1917 the US issued mostly British designed American built M1917 Enfield rather then US Springfield because the US was building Enfields for the British and so had production lines already going while Springfield production was much less

MarkN
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby MarkN » 06 Dec 2017 17:00

Plain Old Dave wrote:Summer 1915, after the Lusitania...

A few ideas for consideration:

Political. In Summer 1915, the Archangel Woodrow would still have the 1916 re-election to consider and Pershing's star didn't really rise til after the Punitive Expedition. At this point, Pershing was still a relatively unknown Brigadier General. Leonard Wood, on the other hand, was a hero of the Spanish-American War and just wrapping up his tour as Chief of Staff of the US Army (uniformed head of the Army). In those days, it wasn't definitely expected that senior generals would retire from their posts and Wood was relatively closely allied with Republicans and as commander of an AEF in 1915 would help with Republican support of the war.

Military. The Entente wasn't as bled out as they were in 1917, and Russia was still a player. Too, U-boat tactics weren't as refined as they would become, so Germany might not have been as effective in trying to bring the war to a decision as the later 1916-17 campaign was on track to be. To be fair, though, the Army elements of a 1915 AEF wouldn't have had the experience of the Punitive Expedition, and the Tampico Affair in 1914 was naval infantry and Marine Detachments from the involved ships. Business as usual for the Marines. At sea, though, an American squadron at Jutland might have sealed the gap the Germans escaped through.

But this is at least to me an interesting idea; what if the US declared war on Germany in the aftermath of the Lusitania sinking? Floor's open.

If America joins the war in 1915 not 1917, it will come out the otherside of that war far more bloodied resulting in, I suspect, America being more in tune with European post-war efforts to avoid another war. Perhaps engaging in the pre-WW2 efforts to deal with Hitler rather than finding him a jolly good man to do business with. Moreover, having spent more time as an 'equal' rather than as a 'opportunistic war profiteer', I suspect the post-war balance of power would still have remained firmly in Europe.

As regards the actual war itself, how different it would look is entirely dependent upon the scale of effort America put forward. One cannot assume that the premise informing the 1917 decisions hold good for 1915 too.

maltesefalcon
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby maltesefalcon » 07 Dec 2017 01:47

iRL even with more time to prepare both logistically and psychologically, the USA took just over a year from declaration of war to actual fighting on the Western Front. They also depended heavily on France for aircraft and tanks.

I cannot see this improving by starting earlier, so we could not expect significant US forces until fall 1916. Still they would be useful, if only to shore up losses after Verdun.

The US Navy would be very welcome, as it would help with the UBoat issue. Also if enough ships could be gathered between France, UK and USA, they could possibly crush the German Fleet for once and for all.

This does not alter my original point of view that as welcome as this eventuality would be to the Allies, it was highly unlikely to come to pass.

Plain Old Dave
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby Plain Old Dave » 07 Dec 2017 15:32

Probably the greatest possibility for timeline divergence would be Jutland. An American battle group at Jutland could have enabled the defeat in detail Jellicoe was looking for and forced an Armistice in later 1916-early 1917....

James A Pratt III
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby James A Pratt III » 07 Dec 2017 16:19

US in WW I in 1915. The US had plenty of money and could have helped the Russians big time with fiscal aid helping avoid the economic problems that helped cause the February revolution of 1917.

More US troops on the Western front in 1916 would be a big help for the Allies.

More US merchant ships and ship building would ease the Allied shipping shortages ect.

The US Navy could have made the Allies stronger at sea.

Winter of 1916/1917 the Germans and Austrians realize that they can't win the war so ask for peace terms. They get better conditions than in 1919. No stab in the back myth either.

So no Lenin No Communism, No Hitler No WW II ect.

MarkN
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby MarkN » 10 Dec 2017 13:38

Plain Old Dave wrote:Probably the greatest possibility for timeline divergence would be Jutland. An American battle group at Jutland could have enabled the defeat in detail Jellicoe was looking for and forced an Armistice in later 1916-early 1917....

James A Pratt III wrote:US in WW I in 1915. The US had plenty of money and could have helped the Russians big time with fiscal aid helping avoid the economic problems that helped cause the February revolution of 1917.

More US troops on the Western front in 1916 would be a big help for the Allies.

More US merchant ships and ship building would ease the Allied shipping shortages ect.

The US Navy could have made the Allies stronger at sea.

Winter of 1916/1917 the Germans and Austrians realize that they can't win the war so ask for peace terms. They get better conditions than in 1919. No stab in the back myth either.

So no Lenin No Communism, No Hitler No WW II ect.

Given the almost endless list of postive advantages that an American entry into the war in 1914 or 1915 could have produced - ranging from a few more boats at Jutland to a Communist non-event (saving Eastern Europe from 50 years of oppression and the world from the ravages of a hot Cold War) and possibly removing the premise for which the likes of Hitler and the Nazis were able to make a successful power grab and avoiding ths murder of 6 million Jews and another 6 million victims of various other identities/population groups (not to mention perhaps a WW2 non-event too) - one wonders why so little has been written and spoken about America's decision to opt to war profiteer for so long.

Plain Old Dave
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby Plain Old Dave » 10 Dec 2017 14:12

MarkN wrote:- one wonders why so little has been written and spoken about America's decision to opt to war profiteer for so long.


Well, there was vociferous opposition to US entry into the war, even in 1917. The German and Irish immigrant communities were firmly against it, as were the Scandinavians (Sweden, Norway, etc.). There were large swaths of the Midwest opposed to active involvement. The Progressive movement was opposed, as well, Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to the House of Representatives cast one of 50 votes against war in 1917. H.L. Mencken even got fired from his regular "Free Lance" column in the Baltimore Sun for being so enthusiastically pro-German.

A book about the industrious and subtle conspiracy to change US sentiment about WW1 would be a good read.

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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby MarkN » 10 Dec 2017 18:13

Plain Old Dave wrote:
MarkN wrote:- one wonders why so little has been written and spoken about America's decision to opt to war profiteer for so long.


Well, there was vociferous opposition to US entry into the war, even in 1917. The German and Irish immigrant communities were firmly against it, as were the Scandinavians (Sweden, Norway, etc.). There were large swaths of the Midwest opposed to active involvement. The Progressive movement was opposed, as well, Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to the House of Representatives cast one of 50 votes against war in 1917. H.L. Mencken even got fired from his regular "Free Lance" column in the Baltimore Sun for being so enthusiastically pro-German.

True. All that "vociferous opposition to US entry into the war" was indeed against the American military joining in the fighting to bring a quicker end to the bloodshed. In effect, it wasn't just the political leadership that seemed content for the bloodshed to continue, the were large swathes of the American public who were actively pursuing the same ideals.

Just imagine what the world would now look like if the 5th Marines had won the war in 1915 by curbstomping the Germans. Or perhaps they should have curbstomped the British, French and Belgians on behalf of the Germans.

However, since the reality is that America had already entered the war - through sustaining the finances and supplying the materials and tools for the war to continue - this 'anti-war' lobby was either deluded in what they were doing or, perhaps, actively encouraging the pursuit of war profiteering at no cost in their own blood. America did VERY well as a financial, economic and industrial participant in WW1 1914-1917. Didn't the cotton industry get a bit uppity when the British blocked their exports to Germany and their profits collapsed?

Then the same trick was repeated again in 1939.

Plain Old Dave wrote: A book about the industrious and subtle conspiracy to change US sentiment about WW1 would be a good read.

Yep. A book about attempts to change the sentiment of selfish war profiteering would be a good addition to the the histograph.

Hoist40
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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby Hoist40 » 10 Dec 2017 20:55

""""A book about attempts to change the sentiment of selfish war profiteering would be a good addition to the the histograph."""

How about a book about the selfish elite who sent Americans to die in Europe. A Europe which learned nothing but kept their petty squabbles.

They learned nothing from the actual war why would they learn anything from the US joining the war in 1915 except the idea that they could get others to fight their wars. And pay their war debts

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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby pugsville » 10 Dec 2017 23:26

James A Pratt III wrote:More US merchant ships and ship building would ease the Allied shipping shortages ect.


The US entry actually decreased the amount of shipping available for the rest of the Entente, the US relied heavily on British shipping (more 50% of the AEF was on British shipping) over a million tons of shipping was allocated from the exisiting Entente stocks to supported the US efforts. Britain was already contracting shipbuilding in US yards , which contacts were taken over by the US on entry into war.

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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby James A Pratt III » 13 Dec 2017 20:28

Another problem the US would have had if it had gotten into WW I in 1915 is a very large anti-war movement. The US national WW I museum and Memorial has a presintation on this: "The Peace Coalition That Almost Kept the US from going to war". There are a few books out there on the US anti-war movement I think the title of one is "War on War" or War Against War". The PBS American Experience program" the Great war" of which columnist George Will says about it watch it and wince. Lots of civil liberties violations racism lynching ect., and the Meuse-Argonne offensive thew bloodiest battle in US history.
If the US got into WW I in 1915 there will less popular support for it than in 1917. Add to this the Tsar still rules the Russian Empire and many Jews and Poles and others in the US will have nothing to do a war that helps him. As for making Wood in command of the AEF from what I have read about him this is not possible the man was too much of a pain in the ass to put it mildly. This will also most likely cost Wilson the 1916 election.

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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby Plain Old Dave » 14 Dec 2017 04:34

There was a significant isolationist bloc in the Midwest; the Square States as I call them were full of what H. L. Mencken called "uplifters" or Progressives. And Mencken was far from the only pro-German media personality in the era. Too, it's not widely remembered that Henry Ford was a peace activist in 1915. That said, the Lusitania Crisis was a near-run thing and with a different Secretary of State than Bryan it might have turned into direct US intervention in the war.

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Re: US entry into WW1 in 1915?

Postby antwony » 14 Dec 2017 10:28

James A Pratt III wrote:the Meuse-Argonne offensive thew bloodiest battle in US history.


Seriously? The Australian Army had more fatalies at The Somme than the US had at Argonne. Some of your countryman; Mosier, a guy in this thread, really can be quite dim.

James A Pratt III wrote:This will also most likely cost Wilson the 1916 election.


By international standards, your country's only been involved in one real war, your Civil War, which (the clue's in the name) was pretty divisive.

In comparison to other pre WW1 democracies the lethality of the response to organised labour in America was unique.

If your country had experienced losses similiar to the Somme/ Verdun/ Isonzo 1-10 I think there would be bigger problem than a new President.

James A Pratt III wrote:Add to this the Tsar still rules the Russian Empire and many Jews and Poles and others in the US will have nothing to do a war that helps him.


The International Workers of the World membership reached its peak during WW1. It had a great many ethnic Finnish members. They mightn't go quite so far as to set up a Soviet in Upper Michigan and secede from the Union. But their opposition to Federal authority would be extremely robust. Add to that all the mining regions in the Appalachian's, Rockies and elsewhere, the logging camps in Oregon, Washington State, etc., north eastern mill towns and ethnic Germans + others.


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