It was going to be okay. Lincoln was the President-elect, and it would only be a few more months before he was officially inaugurated.
So why couldn't America sleep?
One cold winter's night on December 20, 1860, the budding nation was tossing and turning in his bed, unable to rest fully. Something in the pit of his stomach told him that all was not right within his beloved country, but he couldn't seem to put his finger on it. Whatever it was made him feel sick, almost like he was being split in two.
When he awoke with a fright, his worst nightmare started coming true.
Raising an eyebrow, he lifted the sheets and stared at the small slip of paper attached to his left ankle before reaching down and plucking it off. He groped around blindly for Texas, putting his glasses on after locating them and holding the paper up to eye level. It was a simple note, consisting of only three words:
Gritting his teeth together, America crushed the note in his hand and snarled, "CSA, you bitch! That was South Carolina!"
"Ah, America," President James Buchanan said, beckoning the blond teenager into his office. Once the fourteen-year-old had taken a seat, Buchanan closed the door and sat behind his desk. "What's the latest news?"
He rubbed the back of his neck, willing the knot to loosen and allow him to be pain-free. "In the last three days, we've lost three more states, sir," he said, tone worried and tired, "and I get the feeling that we haven't yet seen the worst of it."
"Have you made the President-elect aware of this?"
America nodded. "Yes, sir. He was one of the first to know. But it's not him I'm worried about. It's CSA…" Twisting his hands in his lap, he sighed and continued with, "It seems to me as though he'll stop at nothing to become his own country, and his existence alone says that there's a good possibility that the Southern states already consider themselves to be part of a different nation.
"He wants a war, sir. That much is obvious. But he doesn't understand that I simply can't go to war with him; I still consider the South a part of the United States, and it seems foolish to fight against myself. After all the crap I went through during the Articles of Confederation era, I don't want to deal with separate entities again."
The President interlocked his fingers and rested his chin on them, replying, "What do you propose, then? What should our plan of action be?"
"As much as I don't want it to come to it," he started, rubbing his neck again, "make sure there are troops in case we need to engage in war."
Buchanan nodded, taking note of his country's instructions before looking back up at him. "Absolutely. Go get some rest; you look tired."
"Thank you, sir."
The nation left, leaving James Buchanan alone again as he sighed and held his face in his hands. "Lord, what have we gotten ourselves into?"
England probably should've been worried when he noticed America stumbling about with his hands outstretched.
England probably should've gotten up from where he was sitting and drinking his tea to go help the poor lad.
England probably should've given a damn.
But he didn't.
Instead, he decided to sit back and watch the show as the young nation traipsed around like an idiot, muttering something about the 'damn CSA' that 'nicked fucking Texas.' Also from the usually jovial nation's rant, England picked up a plethora of swear words that could make a sailor blush, bitching and moaning about some Davis fellow, more cussing, and more whining about this 'CSA' person.
"Jesus Christ!" America growled, still feeling around as he rounded the corner and headed to the library, where his former mentor had copped a squat. "I can't see shit!"
Sighing, England set his teacup onto the small table and crossed his legs. "I know I'm going to regret this, but what the bloody hell is wrong with you?"
America perked up and looked in the general direction of where the other nation was sitting. "Dude, is that you, England?"
"No, you twit. I'm Canada. What the blazes do you think?"
The nearly blind blond clutched his heart and pouted, saying, "Ouch, man. That hurt," before smiling like an idiot and cautiously proceeding forward until he was standing in front of England, bending down, and groping the unimpressed Brit's face. "Ah, there you are. Now that that's settled, would you mind telling me why the heck you're in my library?"
Pushing his ex-charge away from his face, England replied, "I left my copy of Jane Eyre here the last time I knocked you up. And back up, you git; you're too close to me." America did as he was asked. "Thank you. Once again, what the bloody hell is wrong with you?"
"Oh? Oh. Oh… Oh? Ohhhhhhh," America said absently, pursing his lips. "You mean the whole walking around and trying not to run into things like a doofus thing, right? That's 'cause motherfucking CSA and his arsenal of thieving little dirtbags jacked Texas while I was sleeping. Yeah, imagine my surprise when I woke up February first and couldn't find my glasses."
England quickly counted off the days on his fingers. "Texas hasn't been yours for over a week? It's the tenth of the month."
"Yep. Do you, erm, wanna help me out?"
He stood. "No. I refuse to bother myself with your petty problems. You're a nation, and a damn powerful one at that, so figure it out for yourself. But do realize one thing—the Confederacy's goal is to be recognized. France doesn't even recognize them as a country. Neither should you." With a curt nod, he said, "Good day," and left.
"Mr. President! Sir!" one of the aides called, rushing down the hall to where Lincoln and America were standing, the latter having finally acquired a new pair of glasses. "Sir, they've attacked Fort Sumter!"
America's breath hitched as the President stayed calm and collected. "When was this?" he asked, resting a hand on the shocked nation's shoulder.
"Three days ago, sir! The twelfth of April!"
Coming out of his stupor, America steeled his gaze and clenched his fists. "The bastard…" he muttered to himself, shutting his eyes tightly and tightening his hands. He looked up at the flushed aide. "This is the last straw. If it's a war he wants, it's a war he'll get. Call for troops."
"M-Mr. America! Where are you going?" the aide asked as America walked away.
He stopped for a moment and glanced over his shoulder, expression determined, and said, "I'm going to go enlist in the army."
When the aide opened his mouth to speak, Lincoln placed his hand on his shoulder. "Let him go."
America found it strange that after assuming his role as a normal human, he began aging like a normal human as well. He had turned sixteen a little more than a month before, but he was starting to feel older than even that. War really did take a lot out of one's energy and peppiness.
He looked up into the face of his commanding officer, Major General John Pope. "Sir."
"You're on rearguard today, Jones. The last two days were unsuccessful, but let's drag out a victory today," he said, receiving a nod and a 'yes, sir' in response. "Report in five minutes."
Five minutes later, when all Union soldiers had arrived and were going over their plans for attack, America couldn't help but feel uneasy about the entire battle that was about to take place; however, he had no say in the matter, as he was but a foot soldier.
As the fighting started not long after, he reminisced on his dislike of warring with his own people—they may have been the 'enemy,' but Americans were Americans. Sadly, though, he knew it had to be done, despite the displeasure it caused him. He'd never been on rearguard before, but was aware of the fact that his job was extremely important should the Confederate soldiers take out a large portion of the Union soldiers.
Such was the case on the last day of the Second Battle of Bull Run.
"Shit!" one of his fellow rearguards swore, eyes widening at what was happening. "They just took out our entire left flank! What the hell do we do?"
This is my chance to be a hero, America thought to himself, but I don't feel very heroic knowing I'm killing Americans. "We fight until Major General Pope gives us further instructions!" he yelled over the noise of cannon fodder and guns.
So they did, and eventually Pope called for a quick and quiet retreat to Centreville. Though they had managed to keep their army from being destroyed, spirits sunk as the battle was technically a Confederate victory.
America sighed, nursing his injured arm. Hopefully the war wouldn't rage for much longer.
August 30, 1862
Lost to the Confederacy at Bull Run. Learned of a Union defeat at Richmond; Nelson beaten by Smith in Kentucky. Damn CSA.
September 1, 1862
Apparently indecisive battle at Chantilly, but Confederacy seems to have "won." We're not giving up this war. We'll win. If it's the last thing I do.
September 2, 1862
Lost to Santee Sioux at Birch Coulee. Embarrassing loss to Indians. We hang our heads in shame.
September 14, 1862
Union victory at South Mountain. Looks like we're finally getting our bravado back. Had to pass through gaps to get to Lee, but the bastard delayed us for a day before retreating. Wuss. Seems like the war's going to last longer than I had hoped. Damn.
September 15, 1862
News reached of a Confederate victory at Harpers Ferry. Also heard of something going down at Antietam, so we're headed there. Fucking Confederate bastards are dragging this shit out.
"If I had to choose one, I'd say that the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the scariest things I've ever had to do. There had been plenty of battles before that I'd fought in, but the emotions were running high at Gettysburg. We were all thinkin', 'Are we gonna die? Will we win? Will we lose? What's gonna happen?' It was terrifying.
"But we were able to pull through, y'know? Some strategic planning on our part, stupid moves on their part, and the like. Personally, though, I don't think we really entered that battle thinkin' we were gonna win; after everything that'd happened, it looked more likely that we'd lose, and a loss like Gettysburg could've cost us the war.
"Antietam was pretty damn bad, too. For a one-day battle, it was bloody as hell. I lost a few friends that day, but when I think about how heroic it made them, it doesn't seem as bad. I just wish I could've done something about it. Heh. Some hero I am.
"Sometimes I'm glad I'm not a normal human, but sometimes I kinda wish I could die. There're some things that you shouldn't have to live with, and with as many wars as I've seen, I'd like to forget it all. Lord knows I'd probably be better off just not knowing.
"I've been asked before if I would change something in the past should the chance arise. I always say no, because it's my past that makes me what I am, even though some things could've gone over more smoothly. England still hasn't forgiven me for that whole Revolution incident.
"You're lucky you're not a nation. It tore me apart every time I'd have to go out on that battlefield and mow down thousands of my own people; Confederates or not, they were all still Americans to me. In the end, the Union was preserved, the CSA ceased to exist, and the rest is history."
"General Parker," Lieutenant General Grant said, "may I so bold as to ask for writing materials?" Parker nodded, leaving and coming back laden with papers and pens. After thanking the man, Grant set about writing the terms of the surrender.
Appomattox C. H., Va.,
Ap'l 9th, 1865
Gen. R. E. Lee,
Comd'g C. S. A.
In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N. Va. on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate. One copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.
Not one word of anything, whether it be of importance or not, passed between Grant and Robert E. Lee; instead, the two men sat as Grant's pen scratched across the surface of the paper. When he was done, Lee asked about his officers keeping their horses, considering them to be private property, but according to the terms of the surrender they could not.
Lee's response was a written letter, short and to the point.
Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,
April 9, 1865
Lieut.-General U. S. Grant.
—I received your letter of this date containing the terms of the surrender of the Army
of Northern Virginia as proposed by you. As they are substantially the same as those
expressed in your letter of the 8th inst., they are accepted. I will proceed to designate
the proper officers to carry the stipulations into effect.
R. E. Lee,
With that, Lee's surrender was official—duplicates of both letters were made, and a telegraph was sent to E. M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, detailing the surrender and announcing Lee's decision to surrender his troops and their non-private weapons.
A nation he may have been, but America heard of the surrender at the same time the rest of the Union soldiers did, though he was not among those cheering for the surrender of the Confederate General. He knew that Lee wasn't the only major player in the twisted war game still raging, but he figured it was start.
Soon enough, he would be the one to take down CSA and get back what was rightfully his.
Blue eyes met their match as the mirror images stared each other down, one dressed in a blue uniform while the other sported plain gray. "When are you going to realize that I've won, Confederacy?" America asked, sword-wielding hand unwavering as their swords clinked against one another. "When are you going to accept defeat? When is the madness going to end?"
"The madness ends when you accept that this is your fault!" Confederacy shouted back, jaw clenched in irritation. "This is what you get for trying to force your hand, America! Someone is always going to fight back!"
America could feel tears prickling at the corners of his eyes. "It doesn't have to be this way! Come quietly and I won't have to hurt you!"
"Bullshit!" he snarled, sneering at the northern part of the country with nothing but malice. "I'll never side with you! If you want this to end, you'll have to end it yourself!"
A gasp. "N-No…"
Smirk. "Yes. The only way to end this is to kill me… brother."
"That's why I seceded! You're weak, America, and that will be your downfall," Confederacy said, tone darkening as he drew his hand back to attack the other blond.
A lone tear sliding down his face, America blocked the technique with a clang from metal hitting metal, looking upon his brother with sympathy and sorrow. "Then… Then I will fight," he said decisively, countering the other's attack with his own.
This continued for an unidentifiable amount of time, the two teenagers parrying and lunging and trying to kill wound maim injure beat the other, until America knocked the sword out of Confederacy's hand and held him at knife-point.
Confederacy narrowed his eyes. "Do it," he challenged, taking a sick delight in the way America's breaths were broken by sobs and his sword hand shook noticeably.
"I… I can't," he whispered, blue eyes shining with tears and bottom lip quivering. He lowered the tip of his sword to rest in front of his companion's heart, grip on the hilt loosening. "I just… can't."
Gaze expressionless, Confederacy said, "So be it," and grabbed the handle of America's sword, plunging it into his own body as America's eyes widened incredulously and he dropped the weapon in favor of catching the other as he fell to the ground.
"C-Confederacy…" he murmured, tears falling freely and staining small circles on the gray uniform a darker shade. "Why? Why would you… I just don't… Why?"
Blood pooled on the front of the uniform, dyeing America's hands red as his enemy bled out. "Because…" he struggled to get out, voice hateful as always, "because you can't… do anything… by yourself." Grabbing the small knife from his pocket, he mustered the last of his strength and slashed America's back, a long, deep gash. "So you… never forget… me…"
His chest ceased all movement and a quick check revealed his pulse had gone as well.
He cried for the people he'd killed.
He cried for the people who had killed his friends.
He cried for the wrongs that everyone, regardless of side, committed.
He cried for Confederacy, his brother, his enemy.
But mostly, he cried for himself—he cried because it was his fault, he cried because he didn't bother trying to stop it before it erupted into war, and he cried because he lost though he may have won the war.
Slowly fading back into reality, America absently fingers the dog tags around his neck. The top one reads Alfred F. Jones, but the bottom one reads Confederate States of America. He has never forgotten his brother, nor could he ever, because of the scars etched in both his back and memory that never have faded.
He shakes his head to rid himself of the melancholic mood creeping up on him, putting on a smile and gathering his paperwork before he enters the meeting room and slaps the papers down on the table with a childlike grin on his face. "Dude, I think the World Conference can convene!"
Author's Note: Strangely enough, this was supposed to be funny, but it decided it wanted to be a dramatic angst-fest. So I agreed, and this is the end result.
The terms of the surrender and all associated documentation were referenced from Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (New York, 1885), pages 555-560, a book of memoirs by Ulysses S. Grant.