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Acacia Sgt

Flight of the Golden Eagle - An Alternate History Piece

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Hello, members and lurkers of Serenes Forest. Lately, I had the desire to write something that was essentially Alternate History. After working on it for some time, I have something to show as a start. Now, I'm aware that there may be other places more suited to post something like what I'll write, but let's say that for reasons, I want it to be here. In a way, I was inspired by at least two stories here that were also basically AH works, to put it here as well. If interested enough to comment/critique/discuss, you can do so at the feedback thread. So, without much else, let us begin...

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Prologue – The Xalapeño Rising Star

The year of eighteen twenty-first marked the end of the struggle for independence of Mexico. The war had winded down in the late eighteen tens, to the point that very few insurgent leaders were still fighting as the eighteen twenties began. However, it had gained another momentum as actions in Spain had left many in New Spain to decide to separate as well. Joining forces with the insurgents, the Plan of Iguala headed by Agustín de Iturbide, made in February of eighteen twenty-one, was among the first steps of the final phase of the conflict. Throughout the year the royalist strongholds would fall one by one, until those that remained in the province of Veracruz were among the few left. In charge of liberating these last few strongholds, was one Antonio López de Santa Anna.

 

After the liberation of Xalapa, Santa Anna departed in late June to liberate the port of Veracruz. At first, he tried to appeal for the peaceful surrender of the port, bringing the relatively peaceful surrender of Xalapa and him being a fellow Veracruzano (of the province, not the port) as assurance things would be fine. He also sent letters to provincial governor José García Dávila, who Santa Anna owed much. It was said Santa Anna considered Dávila as a father figure, and so hoped he too would just surrender for both their sakes and that of the people of Veracruz. Dávila, however, would decline and simply consider Santa Anna a traitor willing to sacrifice others to fulfill his ambitions. He also appointed José Rincón in charge of the troops, someone who Santa Anna had previous enmity with. While Santa Anna’s exact reaction to this is unknown, it did lead to the man to launch an assault during the early hours of the seventh of July, more determined than ever to liberate the port.

While unable to liberate the city, Santa Anna had fulfilled one crucial objective, that of the death of Dávila. Thanks to the organization and discipline of the men under his command[1], Santa Anna reached the residency of Dávila and stormed the place, killing the man. Their good fortune would not last, as the royalist forces under Rincón were able to throw them back out shortly after. Santa Anna suffered around fifty casualties, and though unintended, the battle had also brought the deaths of many civilians. But Dávila was dead, and the royalists had also lost at least a dozen men as well. Santa Anna had considered this a partial victory, but unable to amount a second attack on the port, he retreated to Córdoba.

By the end of the month, Santa Anna heard that Juan O’Donojú, the last appointed Viceroy that New Spain would ever have, had arrived at Veracruz. He was willing to talk with Iturbide, and Santa Anna decided to be the one to escort him. Thanks to Santa Anna’s efforts, Iturbide and O’Donojú met in Cordoba, and by the end of August the Treaty of Córdoba had been signed. In such document, the country’s independence was recognized, and offered the throne to a Bourbon or other European monarch willing to take it. Though not recognized in Spain proper, the treaty was taken as a sign that the country was, at last, free.

However, there were areas still under royalist control in the capital, at Acapulco, and in the province of Veracruz. So as Iturbide marched the Three Guarantees army towards the capital, Santa Anna took it upon himself to liberate the ones in his home province. As the month of September passed by, he was back at Xalapa going through the preparations to liberate the first of the strongholds, Perote, when he was approached by a woman. She would tell Santa Anna that her husband, Domingo de la Rocha, had a hundred pesos debt. She feared the town council would come to confiscate their goods as a result. Santa Anna offered to help her out, saying her husband could ask for an appeal, which was permissible under the law[2]. Santa Anna, who was already popular among the general populace, had only gained even more fame once word spread.

Come October, when word of Iturbide’s triumphant arrival to Mexico City had reached Xalapa, Santa Anna finished his preparations and set forth. Perote was liberated early in the month, and with the capitulation at Acapulco a week later, it left only the port of Veracruz as the last bastion of royalist control. Still in Perote, Santa Anna once more tried to appeal for the port to surrender without a fight, sending messages in advance before he arrived by the twentieth. The royalists however, now under the command of Francisco Lemaur, refused to comply with his request[3]. Lemaur had arrived with O’Donojú to New Spain, but after the latter’s actions and with Dávila dead, Lemaur was now placed in charge. After his request was repeatedly denied, Santa Anna chose to launch the attack.

The battle was fierce and lasted a whole week. By November, however, the royalists fled the city and fell back to the island-fortress of San Juan de Ulúa. Though unable to lay siege to the fort to finish the job, Santa Anna had nonetheless emerged triumphant, having participated in the winning side and involved in the liberation of his home province. He was hailed a hero and called the Liberator of Veracruz. Despite the, though few, voices of opposition, Iturbide granted him the position of Political and Military Chief of the province of Veracruz.

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The country of Mexico was finally free, after eleven years of warfare, and so entering a new period in its history. Whether the newly independent nation would endure or suffer setbacks was a question still in the air. One thing was assured, though, in that Santa Anna’s role was far from over…

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[1] Truth be told, historically Santa Anna's cavalry panicked and broke files, which sent the infantry into disarray as well. As such, the realist forces promptly beat them back, and Dávila lived that night. Whether or not Santa Anna could've actually liberated the port right there and then if they hadn't panicked is another matter altogether. But well, I think my take on the the answer is explained later in the prologue itself.

[2] In reality, the town council had already reached the decision to confiscate their goods by the time the woman reached Santa Anna. When Santa Anna made the suggestion to the council, it caused friction between them since the council considered Santa Anna was overstepping his authority over them (which was none, the council thought). Santa Anna insulting them in return did not help. As the council was Iturbidista, it was one of the first things that caused the eventual wedge between Iturbide and Santa Anna in real life. Here, without having actually reached a decision yet, and Santa Anna making the suggesting to the couple intead, the whole incident is avoided entirety. Not that the council would be happy once they hear Santa Anna helped them anyway (they weren't exactly on best of terms already), but with the different circumstances, an actual quarrel between them is avoided.

[3] As Dávila didn't die, he was still in charge in the original course of events. He did accepted to surrender... on the condition Santa Anna gave up his position as leader of the assault force. It was another move to spite him, trying to deny him the satisfaction of liberating the port. Wanting to avoid bloodshed, Iturbide accepted, which didn't sit well with Santa Anna, driving another crack into the eventual wedge between them. Lemaur, not having the same history with Santa Anna, would naturally not pull that stunt.

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And that's it for a start. I can't really promise a set schedule for this, but I will try to no let that much time happen between updates.

Anyway, can you find the point(s) of divergence? I kinda expect it's something that has be looked up, but still, one never knows if someone actually has the answer...

Edited by Acacia Sgt

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Chapter 1 – The Road to Coronation

The twenty-seventh of September was the day when Iturbide, leading the Three Guarantees armies, marched into Mexico City. It was a triumphant march that signaled the end of the war, though at the time there were still areas to clear of royalist control. As these last strongholds, save for San Juan de Ulúa, fell during the following weeks, the time had come to begin focusing on the building of the new nation.

As per the Treaty of Córdoba, the new nation would seek a new monarch, starting with the Bourbons. In a fit of irony, the first in line was none other than Spanish King Fernando VII, whose (admittedly forced) reassertion of the Cadiz Constitution was the cause for the insurrection to return from the brink and win. However, he still didn’t accept the independence of the viceroyalties. Despite the offer of kingship of Mexico, he refused, on the principle of not accepting its independence. He also made sure the next ones in line to accept it, his brothers Infants (a Spanish title given to non-heirs, age had nothing to do with it) Carlos María Isidro and Francisco de Paula, would not accept either. The last in line before the offer was sent to other European monarchs was Archduke Carlos of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, cousin of Fernando. Alas, no European country thought sending a monarch to Mexico was worth angering Spain. At least, perhaps not a Catholic one, but Mexico would not accept of any other religion. As such, as the year of eighteen twenty-two began and the first few months passed, it was clear there would be no European monarch coming. The treaty had another clause, though, in that if the country failed to grab the interest of an European monarch, the option was open for the selection of a local man as per the decision of Congress. It was said this clause was added by Iturbide himself to give himself the chance to ascend to the throne.

Before all this happened, though, the country was ruled by a Regency, of which Iturbide was in charge. He called for a Provisional Junta, later replaced by a Constituent Assembly in early eighteen twenty-two. The members of the Junta were mostly chosen between those with titles or former realists who had also switched sides with Iturbide. The original insurgents felt left out, and as many of them favored transition to a republic than keeping the monarchy, it became matters of concern for them. Things almost turned for the worse when they had begun to organize meetings in Queretaro since November of eighteen twenty-one. Among those invited was Pedro Celestino Negrete, who was a close friend of Iturbide.

 

He got suspicious of the nature of these meetings and begun to think it was a conspiracy against Iturbide. So instead of immediately informing Iturbide, reason would reign, and he decided to attend. His suspicions were quelled when the meeting was more a debate on the future course of the country, and was not against Iturbide, as he feared.

In the meantime, it was time of busy work. They weren’t easy months, for the Junta, and later Congress, was divided on many issues. For Iturbide’s supporters, opposition came mainly from the liberal section, headed by José María Fagoaga, who eventually became head of the Junta at one point. Each side got its victories; the imperialists brought the Jesuits back, the liberals lowered taxes in certain sectors, among others. As a matter of act, on the matter of taxes, Iturbide himself had planned to implement many reductions and eliminations of his own but was convinced that such a matter would reduce the government’s income. Instead, an alternative was suggested to revive the mining industry, which was almost completely abandoned because of the war. On the same matter, another of Fagoaga’s victories was preventing the cease of certain monetary aids to the many native groups.

The main priority through all this time was on the military. It was where most of the expenses went, and among the more contested subjects when it came to implementing changes. What was accepted was Iturbide’s idea of creating military orders, and thus, the Imperial Order of Guadalupe was established.

 

During this time, the Empire would see its first expansions. The war had been mostly centered in the central-south regions of the old viceroyalty. As such, areas like the frontier territories of New Mexico and the Californias merely acknowledged the change of state. On the other extreme, the Central American portion of New Spain made their own separate proclamation of independence in eighteen twenty-one as well. The provinces were divided on the issue of joining up with Mexico or remain separate. The matter was put to the vote, and the vote leaned with annexation. Despite so, there were cases like in the province of San Salvador that rose in revolt to the decision but was quickly put down. The whole former area of the General Captaincy of Guatemala, part of the New Spain viceroyalty, was formally annexed into the Empire in early eighteen twenty-two, bringing the total area of the Empire to almost the five million square kilometers.

 

The friction between the different factions of the Junta remained when it gave way to the Congress formed in February of the same year. Among the first issues was the composition of Congress itself. Various plans had been proposed and Iturbide brought the chance to propose again its division in two chambers, unlike the single chamber the Junta had decided. Iturbide could’ve seen the Regency’s proposal go unfulfilled again if it wasn’t that a different matter was bought up to negotiate with. The Junta had planned on reductions on the military to reduce expenses, but Iturbide considered the military an important aspect of the Empire to preserve. In a tense compromise, the Iturbide agreed for reductions on the military to be applied in exchange for the acceptance of the Regency’s proposed changes in the composition of Congress itself. Despite appearances, this resolution had avoided a further escalation of conflict between the factions, for all the changes were adding up to avoid the Empire in dealing with a shortage of funds.

As luck would have it, if anything could force the two sides to get along, it was facing a common enemy. A garrison of realist forces were spotted near the capital, planning to incite a counter-revolution against the infant government. General Anastasio Bustamante was quickly sent to intercept them, a mission in which he found success.

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The incident, though quickly put down, served as a wake-up call for the divided government. Between it and the still-occupied San Juan de Ulúa, it was a sign taken that if they let themselves succumb to conflict between themselves, it would leave them open for Spain to reinvade. The fact they still held Cuba to use as a platform to launch a reconquest campaign, another matter to eventually deal with, meant the threat would always be there until Spain relented on the matter.

The year went by, and it soon became clear there would be no monarch from Europe coming. The time had come to seek inward for an emperor. Those in support to implement a republican government still attempted to oppose the notion, but with the lack of a significant big amount of friction with the imperial government, support wasn’t as high as they hoped. Though there was a significant number of them, supported by groups like the Scottish Freemason Rite. On the eighteenth of May, all around the capital the people began to clamor for Iturbide to be crowned emperor. It is said that Sergeant Pío Marcha was who began the movement, but nothing remains confirmed to this day. The sudden act spurred Congress into a hasty meeting, attempting to go through the due process. No doubt to aid his image, Iturbide cooperated with the members of Congress, so it could be done in an orderly matter, and remove the notion they were being pressured to. Despite the situation, the voting process was done, in which Iturbide won with a little over two-thirds of the votes in his favor. It was a defeat for the republicans and Bourbonists, but the deed was done, and Iturbide was now on the path to be crowned emperor.

The preparations were done in the following weeks; and on the morning of the twenty-first of July of the year eighteen twenty-two, the ceremony was underway in the Metropolitan Cathedral. Iturbide was crowned as Emperor Agustin I, with his wife Ana María Huarte crowned Empress Consort. In addition, the couple’s children, as well as Iturbide’s father and sister, were granted the title of princes and princesses of the empire.

 

And thus, the Empire was formally cemented, with a sturdy base, though with troubles trying to chip away at it. Troubles that would not waste time to make the Empire’s first years into turbulent ones.

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And here's the first chapter. It's a mix of stuff that did happen and stuff that is now going... different. It will take some time to trully go off the rails... well, more like, switching lanes until we reach the highway's next exit, if I find a more suitable metaphor. Looking back, I think I'll edit what I have so far to actually note where stuff is changing, to make it easier for the readers. But for now... until next time.

Edited by Acacia Sgt

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Chapter 2 – Enemies of the Empire

The Empire did not have a good beginning. There was still friction between monarchists and republicans, as the latter had not given up in trying to transition the country into a republic. Likewise, there was an overlapping line between the conservatives and liberals, so for the time being both divisions could be said to be just one. For the time, at least, the latter group was content the presence of Congress served as a foil to Emperor Iturbide. As senator Valentín Gómez Farías had put it before the voting took place, Iturbide could have the throne so long he recognized Congress’s own actions and decisions. That said, there were still those that still wanted him deposed, and they were from both within and outside the country.

First among them was the Colombian Minister Plenipotentiary, Miguel Santa María. Though being from Mexico, Santa María had for some time not been living there. He nonetheless had arrived back on the country during March of eighteen twenty-two, as an envoy of Simón Bolívar in his efforts to establish closer ties with the other former viceroyalties. Santa María had, therefor, become the first diplomatic representative of a foreign power in Mexico. Santa María, however, was against the path the country was taking, and thus attempted to undermine the Empire by fomenting close ties with those that showed support for republicanism. It didn’t take long before Iturbide found out.

Santa María wouldn’t be the first to give trouble to the Empire in its early days. Also, on eighteen twenty-two, the United States had sent Joel Robert Poinsett to Mexico as an envoy. Like Santa María, he too believed in the implementation of republicanism in the continent, but he was also sent with the prospect of acquiring the northern territories of the nascent nation. American settlers, driven by the Panic of 1819, had already crossed the Sabine River and settled in Nacogdoches back in eighteen twenty, and many others in the United States proper were already eyeing beyond, all the way to the Pacific coast. He tried to negotiate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed at the time by Juan Francisco de Azcárate. Azcárate, however, was quite aware of the dangers of an American takeover of the north and rejected the offers. Iturbide, likewise, was made aware of Poinsett’s intentions.

As these developments happened, however, the country was dealing with propping itself up. Not soon after the coronation, Congress began to draft a new constitution for the nascent empire. Congress and Iturbide were still at odds, which could present a problem, but a matter would rise that would keep them out of each other’s way, which worked for Congress. The Spanish still held the island-fortress of San Juan de Ulúa, raising concerns of a reconquest campaign. Iturbide had made it priority after becoming Emperor that he’d expel them, since so long they held the fort, the country wouldn’t be fully free. The problem lied in that the fortress couldn’t be sieged without the proper artillery, in addition of a navy to encircle them, matters that had made been aware to the Emperor by the Secretary of War and Navy, Antonio de Medina.

Thanks to the mission of captain Eugenio Cortés to the United States in early eighteen-twenty-two, the first ships were acquired that would give birth to the Mexican Imperial Navy, consisting of two schooners (Iguala and Anáhuac) and nine sloops (Chalco, Chapala, Texcoco, Orizaba, Campechana, Zumpango, Tampico, Papaloapan, and Tlaxcalteca). Their first mission: disrupt the arrival of provisions to the Spanish in the island-fortress from Cuba.

Ever since his arrival at the fortress, Francisco Lemaur had tried to fulfill his position as political leader of New Spain to lord over the port and surrounding areas. The populace, fed up with it, urged the local government to block access to the port, leaving Ulúa without provisions from land as well. Between the blockades, and news that a force led by Santa Anna (he personally insisted to) and Iturbide himself was going to work in tandem with the ships to siege and perhaps even storm the fortress, the situation had reached its boiling point by mid-October. Without warning, Lemaur ordered for the fortress’s cannons to start firing at the port.

The port was caught unaware for this sudden action, and many parts suffered damage and casualties. The land forces were still a distant away from the port, so it fell into the ships to begin firing back, being closer and faster to arrive from their positions. By the time the land forces arrived, the cannon fire had finally ceased on the port, for fighting was now taking place at the fort itself, a few of the ships having made it close enough for the soldiers to fire from the decks. Santa Anna got his men into position, and the artillery began to fire at the fort as soldiers stormed the front entrance. By this point, the Spanish were on their last legs. The lack of provisions or reliefs had taken its toll, in addition to scurvy which would also plague the fortress at times. It all added up for Lemaur to be forced to surrender.

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Throughout the port cheers were heard. The final occupiers were no more. The port was granted the title of “Heroica” (Heroic) for having endured the ordeal. The remaining Spanish forces were first detained at the port, and eventually they would be released and allowed to return to Cuba. On the downside, the port, the fortress, and even a few of the ships would have to be repaired, and there were dozens of civilian casualties. The country, however, could now say it was fully free.

It wouldn’t be until sometime later that Santa María would arrive at Veracruz, to take a ship out of the country. He had been effectively ousted out of his job due to his intentions to have the empire overthrown. He had not given up, though, as he planned to rally people to the republican cause on his way out, but when he arrived at Veracruz, he found support for the Emperor as strong as ever, having been bolstered by the take-over of San Juan de Ulúa. Even people who still had their doubts, like Nuevo Santander governor Felipe de la Garza, were unsure any planned uprising could succeed. As such, by December, Santa María finally left the country. It is said that before leaving Mexico City, though, he got in contact with Poinsett, so the movement could continue. As such, the attempts to replace the Empire with a republic were far from over.

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Finally, got another update for this. I'll admit, this isn't high as far as priorities go, but I don't intend to leave this unfinished. Even on the chance it ends up that way, I'll at least try to have worked on this enough. What is enough? Well, that's up for anyone to decide. As a reminder, the feedback thread is there for any comment. Well, until next time.

Edited by Acacia Sgt

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Chapter 3 – The Northern Frontier

Since the time of the viceroyalty, New Spain, now Mexico, always had a shaky northern frontier. Unlike in the Mesoamerican region, native resistance to European colonization had been much higher, the terrain much harsher, incentive much less prominent. Actual settlements were scarce, and even the border itself was ill-defined, until the Adam-Onís treaty made in eighteen nineteen finally did so. Compared to the central and southern parts of the empire, the north was practically devoid of colonization. That wasn’t to say nothing was being done about it. While many Americans had already moved on their own to Nacogdoches in eastern Texas, there was one man who had for years the desire to stablish a settler colony: Moses Austin.

Throughout the eighteen tens, he would attempt without success to get the permits for a colony in Texas, as the Spanish were adamant in refusing American settlements in the province. Eventually Moses gave up and stablished a bank in St. Louise. The Panic of 1819, however, forced his bank out of business, so he retook the colony idea. This time around, with the help of Felipe Enrique Neri, he managed to convince the governor to allow for a colony. However, illness would claim his life as he returned to Missouri in eighteen twenty-one to advertise his colony. His son Stephen took the mantle by urging of his mother, but the independence of Mexico placed the permits made by his father in limbo. After the new government refused to acknowledge them, by late eighteen twenty-two he traveled to Mexico City to negotiate for a new contract.

It wasn’t just Americans who were moving west, though. Since the century began, members of the Native American tribes that lived in the American South were already crossing the Mississippi river as Americans encroached on their lands. Some settled just over the river, but others moved further ahead, across the Sabine river into Texas, settling down around the Caddo tribe territory after encountering problems with the local tribes further west and north. While the bulk of the natives were Cherokee, there were also Shawnee, Biloxi, Choctaw, Coushatta, among other tribes. The Spanish welcomed their presence, hoping their settlement would dissuade both American encroachment and raids from the local tribes.

To formalize their settlements, diplomat Richard Fields in late eighteen twenty-two was sent to secure grants of their own. His first stop was in San Antonio de Béxar, where he struck a deal with governor José Félix Trespalacios. As with the Spanish governments before him, Trespalacios was on board the idea to use the natives as a buffer against American encroachment, so he accepted the idea of the natives settling down in east Texas in exchange of patrolling the Sabine river. First step successful, Fields’s delegation then traveled to Mexico City. As fate would have it, both of Fields and Austin’s delegations approached the Mexican government around the same time, both in search of land grants.

With Congress still working on drafting a constitution, the arrival of the delegations forced a shift in priorities, as subjects pertaining on immigration had not been discussed yet. Though actual debates on the matter didn’t happen until the Emperor had returned from Veracruz. The anti-American stance remained as strong as ever among the Emperor and the conservative faction, so accepting Fields’s request was unanimously agreed on; after the proper conditions were stablished, of course. However, chiefly among the liberals, some saw no harm in renewing the Austin’s’ contract as well, placing the development of Texas higher in priority over who settled there.

In the end, the renewal of the contract went through. It is said that Poinsett got himself involved on the matter as well and had responsibility on the eventual outcome. As it was, the negotiated location had been one far from the border, and Fields’s grants would fall in-between, so it was considered an acceptable arrangement. The permits and grants were done and formalized by early eighteen twenty-three. Many of their stated rules and conditions saw pre-official implementation before incorporation into the Constitution, finally drafted and placed in motion later in the year; and served as the basis of further grants.

Concerns with the frontier weren’t just on the matter of bringing settlers. The local tribes were also a factor. In the northeast, the Comanche were the biggest of them all. Having come from the northern plains their lands, often dubbed the Comancheria, stretched over both Texas and the New Mexico territory; but also overlapped with American territory. They had conflicted with other tribes like the Apache and the Osage, and likewise showed hostility to the tribes coming from the east. On the other hand, they had been among the tribes the Spanish could negotiate with after a long history of attacks and raids. The late eighteenth century had finally seen a cease of hostilities with the Spanish. An alliance surged up against common enemies like the Apache, as well as reaching a deal in which they wouldn’t raid or attack settlers in exchange of payment in the form of various goods like crops and horses, as well as being able to engage in trade. Despite these peace treaties becoming shaky as the tribe chiefs who signed them died, things fortunately hadn’t bounced back to the levels before them, and a relative peace had endured for decades.

Mexico’s independence, however, threatened the end of this. The issues regarding the economy left unclear if keeping the Comanche in check without resorting to force was still sustainable. More so after settlers began to be brought in close to their borders. However, local trading still endured, and the choice of gifts, while reduced, seemed to still placate the worst of the raids. The Comanche were still in conflict with the Osage and other tribes north of the Arkansas river, and the opening of the Santa Fe trail in eighteen twenty-one, linking the mentioned city with St. Louise, Missouri, meant that there was now American presence north in and of the Comancheria. Adding a new wave of disease and epidemics, the Comanche were currently under hard times.

Eventually, as the eighteen twenties progressed, new negotiations were made between the Comanche and the Mexican government. The Comanche would receive firearms and military training to aid in their war with the other tribes and keep their ability to trade with the settlements in Mexico; in exchange of keep reducing the number of raids, extended now to the natives coming from the east, as well to allow the construction of military forts in their territory, though they could supply volunteers to help man them. As well as allow a limited number of settlers and missionaries in their lands. As the Osage and other hostile tribes were still in American territory, the Mexican government couldn’t take direct action against them, as well that the area of the Comancheria outside their borders could only be indirectly aided; therefore, the nature of the aid decided was to prop up the Comanche, who could be used as a buffer, from both the plains tribes, and the Americans.

As such, the Comanche-Hispanic alliance endured the change of government, and for the short-term it seemed to last. Only time would tell if it would last, or if the Mexican government was making a mistake in enforcing the native presence in their eastern borders…

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Well, after having been busy with... lots of other stuff, I finally got the chance to continue this. Finally getting into more and more stuff that's deviating from our history; but the really big stuff is yet to come. You can easily guess where, but for now, we'll still go with the stuff leading up to that. As always, the feedback thread exists for any comments/criticism/discussion on the matter. Until next time!

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