The Center Must Hold

Author: hoyarugby
Published: 2018-10-22
Part 1: Operation Diamondback

Part of the campaign:

The Center Must Hold

October, 1937. It has been just under a year since Alf Landon won an upset victory in the 1936 election. Though Hoover and the Republicans were unpopular, the Democratic base had been stolen out from under them - urban voters mostly backed Reed, and Southern voters Long, leaving Landon to pick up the pieces.

And it has been six months since the second Civil War began, when Huey Long rose up against the legitimate government.

Thankfully for the beleaguered Landon administration, the military stayed loyal, and the forces of order would fight from each coast to one day meet in the middle. Fears of a coup attempt from MacArthur never materialized, and Alf Landon remains more or less in charge wherever Federal writ still applies
The first months of the war were chaos.

In the East, quick thinking from George Patton sent infantry in commandeered cars and trucks to crush the Syndicalist uprising on the East Coast. After heavy fighting in the Philadelphia suburbs, the city fell, and New York City and New Jersey soon after. The frontline in Pennsylvania solidified along the Susquehanna River, though the unhappy workers of New York and Philadelphia do what they can to make the Federals' life difficult

In the South, the experienced China hand Gen. Gerow established an impenetrable line along the marshy and heavily wooded rivers of Southern Virginia. Thousands of Long's fanatics have died in the pines.

Appalachia is held along the old Virginia-West Virginia border, and both the Federals and Syndicalists have found mountain fighting along the border to be unproductive
Loyalist soldiers dug in along the Roanoke River
Fighting in Appalachia
Dwight D. Eisenhower commands loyalist forces in the West. Early in the war it was decided that defending the Great Plains was a fool's errand. Instead, all loyalist forces have pulled back to a line along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, anchored on Helena, Denver, and the Rio Grande.

Although the northern part of the front has remained quiet (other than a syndicalist uprising in Seattle), Denver has seen desperate fighting between loyalists and Long's men. The ruined city remains in Federal hands.

And further South, the Rio Grande valley turned into a killing field, as entrenched Federal forces have thrown back repeated waves of attack by Long's men
A loyalist artillery crew fires on AUS positions near Denver
Loyalist artillery resting after repelling an AUS attack near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
With the situation in the West and East stabilized, the high command in Washington decided that now was a good time to begin a limited offensive, to regain the initiative and test out enemy resolve - Operation Frost

They settled on the small college town of Bloomsburg, PA, and surrounding areas. Enemy lines were thin there, and if a breakthrough could be achieved, other Syndicalist troops were vulnerable in holding a salient over the Susquehanna.
The attack went in October 1st. Two Marine divisions would lead the way in boats and secure a bridgehead. Engineers would create pontoon bridges, and all six of Patton's motorized divisions would cross and get into the enemy rear
The cross-river attack was preceded by just a fifteen minute artillery barrage, hoping to gain a foothold more by surprise than shock.

The Marines crossed in a motley collection of private boats, and in some places the shallow Susquehanna could even be waded
The attack was a success, compounded by forward observers equipped with radios guiding in Loyalist bombers to plaster Syndicalist positions
The B-18 Bolo was the primary bomber of all sides during the war. Underpowerd, poorly armed, and carrying too small of a bomb load, it was better than nothing
After two weeks of fighting, the trucks were over the river and into the enemy rear, with Syndicalist militias fleeing to the rear.

Vehicles lost during the fighting were often replaced simply by "requisitioning" private cars and trucks
The 1st Motorized division crossing the Susquehanna on October 12th
Syndicalist troops on the east bank of the river were quickly cut off. Patton was ecstatic when he learned that one of the vaunted Syndicalist mobile units had been caught in the trap.

After a week of futile resistance, the Syndicalist militia surrendered
Syndicalist troops marching into captivity
By October 24th, Syndicalist reinforcements were flooding into the region. Heavy rains had turned the bad roads of rural northern Pennsylvania into mud, and the attack was called off

Operation Frost was a complete success. After just three weeks of fighting, nearly 15,000 syndicalists had been captured, more killed, and thousands of miles of Pennsylvania had been liberated

More importantly, Washington saw an opportunity. The attack had created an enormous salient, and the Syndicalists had proved to be slow to respond to the speed of Patton's marauders
The loyalist military has conducted their first major offensive against the rebels, and prepares for further advances

The journey to liberate America begins with a single step

Next chapter:

Game: Hearts of Iron IV

The Center Must Hold, part 2: The Winter Offensive

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