Industrial Revolution

From 1d4chan
Knights clash, Nobles Plot, Kings Proclaim and Priests Preach. But for all their ambition, passion, glory, drive and zeal it's a few modestly well off men trying to figure out how to better drain flooded mines that change the world

"The more we progress the more we tend to progress. We advance not in arithmetical but in geometrical progression. We draw compound interest on the whole capital of knowledge and virtue which has been accumulated since the dawning of time. Some eighty thousand years are supposed to have existed between paleolithic and neolithic man. Yet in all that time he only learned to grind his flint stones instead of chipping them. But within our father's lives what changes have there not been? The railway and the telegraph, chloroform and applied electricity. Ten years now go further than a thousand then, not so much on account of our finer intellects as because the light we have shows us the way to more. Primeval man stumbled along with peering eyes, and slow, uncertain footsteps. Now we walk briskly towards our unknown goal."

– Arthur Conan Doyle

The Industrial Revolution was a period from about 1776 to 1914 which was a major game changer for humanity. Many periods of history are laid out arbitrarily by historians for book-keeping purposes. A peasant born at the transition at the tail end of the High Middle Ages in 1340 and lived to see the Renaissance over some 90 years would not think the world he was born in to be too different to the one he died, even if he was glad that the whole "everybody's dropping dead of plague" spell did not come back. But the same could not be said if said fellow was born in England in 1780. In that time the majority of people had moved from the countryside to cities, factories were making everything, you could cross the country in a train in a day and send a message to newfangled Dominion of Canada at the speed of light.

The big thing of note here is energy. For most of the history of civilization if humans wanted to get something done like move some thing from point A to Point B, dig a hole, grind grain, work iron or whatever they had to do it with muscle power, either their own, other peoples' or by those of some cows or horses. Later they worked out how to put wind and flowing water to use with sails, watermills and windmills. Both of which were useful in their own right and by the 1700s they were used in a wide variety of operations but both had serious limitations. There are only so many rivers where you can build watermills and even in windy places there are calm days, so they primarily supplemented wind and water power. A human can produce about 100 watts (joules per second) of motive power continuously, a horse can provide about 750 watts. In contrast a kilogram of wood has about 16-21 megajoules of energy if burned and coal has about 30 megajoules, though this comes in heat. Steam engines use boiling water to turn that heat into motive force which can operate factory machines, propel ships and locomotives to carry cargo, dig ditches and more. Once they had been refined to a level of comparative efficiency they changed the nature of how work got done. First this was done by belts, gears and rods and latter by electrical power generated by steam (or other sources) turning generators to power electric motors and lights.

One of the key advances of the Industrial Revolution was the assembly line which allowed rapid construction of goods by giving each worker a single task to be repeated instead of requiring they have specialized knowledge of the whole process. While this idea goes back to at least the Venetian Arsenal in 1320, it became the standard during this era thanks to breakthroughs in milling, grinding and lathing metal powered by steam. One side effect of making things on an assembly line is that items were broken into interchangeable parts that were replaceable if they broke, where before repairs were specialized work, if they could be accomplished at all. It would not be until World War Two however, that quality control was tight enough that parts were interchangeable between factories. The assembly line led to widespread and cheap automobiles. The most prominent example was the Ford Model T. These early cars all had unique controls and the modern, standardized control layout would not be invented until 1916 and would not achieve popularity until after 1922.

Education also improved and became more universal during this era. By 1800 literacy was near universal in the United States, though this figure may not be counting slaves. Indeed, high literacy was critical to the American Revolution, which made extensive use of mass printed propaganda like Common Sense. Public Education further improved this. Democracy would gradually rise in prominence during this period thanks to increased literacy. The abolition of slavery and women's emancipation would also make serious progress during this era AS an extension of this.

Communications would advance rapidly, with radio quickly becoming a standard possession. The telegraph and later telephone would also be invented during this era. The earliest traces of film recording started here. Photography has matured enough by this time that photographs of most important figures from ~1840 onward exist.

Weapons technology advanced by leaps and bounds. At the start of the Industrial Revolution the average soldier had a flintlock musket that could be shot maybe four times a minute and was accurate up to maybe 100 meters. Breech-loading rifles came around very shortly into the period, though the complexity of the mechanism made large scale manufacture impossible. Guns became mass produced (and were among the first complex machines with metal mechanisms to be so), but over the early 19th century they gradually became rifled as standard and switched over to percussion locks and were complemented with the first mass produced revolvers. Starting in 1848, muskets began being phased out for breech-loading rifles. Metallic cartridge and smokeless powder would arrive towards the end of this era. Since black powder would rapidly foul any repeating action, smokeless powder was critical to the function of any self-loading firearm. Machine guns became common during this era with Sir Hiram Maxim's invention of his famous gun in 1886. Self loading pistols emerged as well. Artillery advanced from simple iron tubes firing iron balls straight ahead to breech-loading steel guns which fired explosive shells on predictable ballistic trajectories.

Of course, there was a downside. Industrialization did generate a lot of wealth, but not everyone profited from it. Rural landlords found that their fields were full of surplus farmhands who weren't needed and they [the landlords] promptly kicked them [the surplus landlords] off their land to go into dirty overcrowded cities full of cheaply made apartments in which people were crammed in like sardines. To get enough to survive, everyone in a poor family older than six would have to work in unsafe conditions for 12 hours or more, often operating dangerous machines that could take the hand off the unwary in the heat, dark, stink and noise of it all while forcibly locked their workers into the building.

There were various responses to these conditions, some of which were more extreme than others. The best-known of these is the concept of the labor union, which allowed for workers in the same industry to group together and demand better working conditions from their employers, as did regulations against child labor, safety standards and so forth. And of course, there was the enormous amount of pollution and general environmental destruction, whose effects are coming back to bite us in the ass a little over a century later.

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

Imagine a world where Tom Cruise succeeded in killing Hitler and then Rommel proceeded to do all the conquering that Hitler promised to do except without all the genocide, only to lose it all by invading Russia in winter. Replace Hitler with Maximilien Robespierre and Rommel with Napoleon Bonaparte and that's basically the Napoleonic Wars.

France is a shit place to live. It always has been. But the 1790s were particularly shitty. Like "why is my bread made of sawdust" shitty (no, really, that happened). Seeing that America had a good end throwing out the monarchy, a bunch of French people decided they had nothing to lose and tried the same. Things got a little out of hand as they tend to in France and before long a young military officer decided that the best course of action was to shoot some protesters with cannons, and the country loved him for it.

Now that he was in control Emperor Napoleon had a relatively short to-do list, he wanted to: Lead and shape ManFrenchkind into a psychic race and surpass the Eldar Romans by learning from their mistakes, unite Humanity under one aegis and allow for instant communication and travel across all human inhabited worlds, kill literally every Xenos Brit and most importantly, prevent another calamity like the Age of Strife or Fall of the Eldar Romans.

Five coalitions were raised against the Emperor's Great Crusade, and each was smashed to pieces by his Astartes Horse Artillery and the Solar Auxilia Garde Impériale. This went on until the Emperor was betrayed by Horus the weather. In the disastrous invasion of Isstvan V Russia, the Grand Army would suffer 80% losses, many due to freezing to death.

While Napoleon would fight against two more coalitions against him, the defeat in Russia would prove to be the beginning of the end.

To fund these wars Napoleon sold the United States a huge chunk of land that's now known as the Louisiana Purchase. This was actually controversial in the United States at the time since it wasn't explicitly allowed by the Constitution of the United States. The sheer size of the acquisition surprised nearly everyone except Napoleon; the negotiators sent by President Jefferson were only looking to acquire New Orleans and access to the Mississippi. Napoleon was eager to divest himself of his New World holdings because they were more trouble than they were worth (a lesson Spain never took to heart and the British only after a very long time); this was shortly after France embarrassingly lost Haiti to the world's first successful slave revolt. Ultimately, the argument that the power to make treaties was sufficient to make a treaty exchanging money for land won out and American settlers soon flooded the largely undeveloped land. Another lasting consequence was that Napoleon's government offered a large reward for anyone who could develop a cost effective method of preserving food. Nicolas Appert claimed this prize when he discovered that food cooked in sealed jars would last for a long time. This would eventually be refined into canning.

War of 1812[edit]

The young USA would engage in its own, concurrent, fight against the British. In 1812, the U.S. would declare war on the British over press-ganging of American sailors... two days after the British put a stop to it (transatlantic communication could go no faster than transatlantic ships, which took roughly two months). The official casus belli aside, the real reason the United States declared war on Britain was in retaliation for British support of Tecumseh's Shawnee Confederation and a desire to conquer Canada. Despite terrible results for the US on land, which saw the White House burned down by Canadians, the U.S. did better than expected on the naval front. Even with Napoleon tying up most of the Royal Navy, the hastily raised and underfunded U.S. Navy matching them was a serious accomplishment.

One especially notable U.S. vessel was the United States floating battery Demologos (retroactively renamed the Fulton after its creator), the first documented steam warship. However, the principle muscle of the USN was the nation's first six frigates, originally constructed to fight the Barbary pirates. Although aged at the start of the war, they were still well armed, sturdy, exceptionally fast for their weight and virtually cannon proof due to their composite armor hull built with American live oak instead of comparatively flimsy European wood. After a string of high profile defeats the Royal Navy forbade their captains to engage them with less than a two-to-one advantage.

In December 1814 both sides declared peace since they weren’t getting anywhere and the original cause for the war was no longer applicable. On 8 January 1815 [sic] the Battle of New Orleans was fought, to overwhelming U.S. victory, despite the war being over (see the above point of communication being slow).

Meiji Revolution[edit]

"智識ヲ世界ニ求メ大ニ皇基ヲ振起スべシ (Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundation of imperial rule.)"

– Meiji Charter Oath

During the Age of Exploration, Japan had closed its borders to most of the outside world to prevent foreign influence (even going so far as to kill castaways, missionaries and their converts - even Japanese sailors who were rescued by foreign ships were prevented from returning home), and for a time, the Shogunate was successful in preventing Europeans from encroaching on Japan like they had in so many other parts of the world. This came to a crashing halt over 200 years later on the 8th of July 1853, the USS Mississippi and some other American ships arrived in Edo to deliver a message from US President (at the time of the Mississippi's departure) Millard Fillmore requesting the reopening of trade. The Mississippi and its companions returned on 12th of February 1854 and led to the Convention of Kanagawa in March (funny enough, Fillmore's term in office was over before this). There were other developments like the British bombing a port in revenge for a murdered businessman, said ports rulers in the Satsuma domain agreeing to pay reparations by buying warships, having been thoroughly impressed, the assassination of the Shogun's number two Ii Naosuke and an attempt to burn the Imperial Palace. This led to a weakening of the ruling Shogunate that allowed Emperor Meiji to seize back power in the violent but swift Boshin War in 1868, permanently ending the Shogunate and the feudal system that ruled Japan for centuries. The die-hard Shogunate loyalists briefly declared a Republic but they were defeated at Hakodate in the final weeks of the war. One of the foremost Imperial samurai and part of the ruling triumvirate under the Emperor, Saigo Takamori, led his home domain of Satsuma to a brief rebellion after disagreeing with some of the reforms and the triumvirate falling apart with one of them dying of illness and Saigo being rivals with the other guy. During the Battle of Shiroyama Saigo's last charge, mortal wounding and assisted Seppuku, followed by the final charge of his 50 remaining followers marked the end of the samurai in the face of conscripted peasants with rifles and cannons. With the last remaining of the big three being assassinated by ex-samurai after the Rebellion, ironically not far from where Naosuke had been shot and decapitated, it was over.

The new Meiji government, not wanting to be consumed by the western powers as many other countries already had, led to a rapid adoption of western technology and, eventually, some empire building of its own. On the one hand, the fact that a formerly isolated nation could go from a feudal backwater to a competitive modern nation in just a scant few decades was remarkable. On the other hand, the need to maintain Japan's power to prevent Western Imperialism directly lead to Japan's own growing military autocracy. Military success against China in 1894, and against Russia in 1905 (the architect of that, Admiral Togo Heihachiro, was a young samurai brat who was fanatically on the Imperial side in the Boshin War while he missed out on the Satsuma Rebellion due to studying abroad at the time) would put it on the world stage. And while the Samurai as a class lost their traditional power of free money and being able to execute disrespectful peasants, enough saw the writing on the wall that they found positions in the new order, using the wealth and education their families had accumulated to enter politics or found many modern institutions one would recognize today, such as Mitsubishi.

The United States Civil War[edit]

Shortly after achieving independence a split in the new U.S. States formed as a distinction became more and more pressing. The Southern Colonies were settled by men who wanted to make a lot of money in the New World and who set up plantations manned by slaves growing tobacco and cotton. The Northern Colonies were settled by groups who wanted to recreate England (or their ideal version there-of) where the cash crops grown on plantations where not profitable and to whom slavery increasingly became morally unpalatable. Stunts like counting slaves in population censuses towards legislative representation while they did not vote inflamed issues. There was some hope that it was on its way out at first (many of the Founding Fathers believed that the growth of industrialization would make slavery obsolete and thus left the problem for future generations to solve), then Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which made the slave owners very wealthy. Even those who did not profit directly from slavery still supported the institution, if only because they were terrified of the possibility of a slave revolt, or an outright race war, as had been the case in Haiti just a few decades prior.

There was also a growing sense of Abolitionism with the British shutting down the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 1807 and abolishing slavery in 1833 with France following in 1845. While the number of hard-line abolitionists in the North was comparatively small, they were making some headway and there were various groups opposed to slavery to various degrees. Tensions rose gradually in the first few decades of the nineteenth century, from outright brawls in the United States Senate to the "Bleeding Kansas" incident, to John Brown's attempted slave revolt at Harper's Ferry. This led to plays to create slave states as fast as possible and other ploys which spiraled things out until the election of President Abraham Lincoln on a generalized anti-slavery plan. Fearing that "The Peculiar Institution" would be contained, constrained and eventually brought to inevitable extinction the powers that be in the South pushed for a violent breakaway.

This war is notable for being the most destructive conflict to take place within the United States (700,000 people dead (more than any other American war) as well as a lot of buildings and infrastructure destroyed) and one of the biggest wars that was fought between industrial powers. One reason for this is the North simultaneously held that South never left the US but total war with intentional targeting of the civilian population and infrastructure was OK. Another was a fear among the North that if the war was not won quickly (regardless of cost in lives) public opinion on it would sour, Lincoln would lose reelection and the war might end without the South's defeat.

The war consisted broadly of two halves, cleanly divided by the Battle of Gettysburg. The first half was characterized by a series of grand maneuver battles in the east in which the Confederate States of America tended to win on account of all the really competent generals picking their side, most notably the legendary tactical genius Robert E. Lee. A vicious cycle ensued where every moron Lincoln gave command to would boldly set out to conquer Richmond and end the war in one stroke, only to run into Lee playing tower defense on the most unfair terrain available. Union Commander of the Month would furiously throw men at Lee's lines until the grumbling from the ranks started to sound mutinous (Fredericksburg, Peninsula) or just stare at his lines until getting blindsided outta fucking nowhere (Chambersburg). Either way, it'd end with the Union sulking back to Washington with about 2/3rds the army they started with. This would repeat several times until eventually Lee got cocky and tried the same thing (Gettysburg, and technically Antietam although that was more of a really bloody draw).

However, the Western Theater was a different story; a pair of grimdark badasses named Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman were leading the Union on a steady slog of wins up and down the Mississippi river system. After Gettysburg, Lincoln decided he just wanted to win and didn't care how messy it got, so he gave Grant command. Grant knew that the Union had more men, and was perfectly content to win by attrition. Grant sent Sherman rampaging through Georgia like an Eversor with flamers, and then settled in for a year of meatgrinder trench warfare with Lee that was basically just World War One without biplanes.

While the war was fought over slavery, complete emancipation was not an original war aim of the North. However as territory fell to the Union advance, slaves came into the custody of the Union army. This became troublesome in the latter years of the war as it presented a serious logistical challenge to feed not only a fighting army on the move but their ever growing camp follower train of liberated slaves. This problem was particularly acute for Sherman's March to the Sea. Some U.S. generals addressed this problem by offering enlistment to liberated slaves, although this practice was not universal. However, many slaves fled Confederate territory to join up with Union forces and a good number of them ended up serving in the Union Army. Ending slavery not only became political policy, but also a weapon of war since it destroyed the Confederacy's economy. This led to the Emancipation Proclamation and eventually the 13th Amendment and with it abolition.

The American Frontier[edit]

"You have died of dysentery."

The Oregon Trail

Throughout the mid 1800s Americans spread rapidly westward. This was aided by several large land purchases such as the aforementioned Lousiana Purchase; this was a huge step for the young nation as they now had a major highway (The Mississippi River) linking the entire back country from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf of Mexico. But said expansion would only accelerate after a little incident south of the border where American settlers living in the Texas territory got fed up with the Mexican government and seceded the entire territory north of the Rio Grande. Texas joined the Union and Mexico gave up a bunch of land after getting its ass kicked. This led the United States to stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Fueling this was several gold rushes and a series of Homestead Acts, which gave ownership of land for free if you lived on it and maintained it. Canada also had a western frontier at the same time, but that part isn't nearly as well remembered (Did you play Yukon Trail? Did you even know it existed?). Huge waves of settlers were eager to reach the newly claimed California and Oregon territories, but before any railroads were laid down, they had to travel by wagon through the barren and hostile wilderness in between, with many would-be settlers dying to disease, hypothermia, hyperthermia, attacks from upset Native American tribes, and in at least one infamous case, cannibalism.

This era has long been dramatized to the point it has become its own genre, the Western. This goes so far back The Great Train Robbery, one of the first films with a narrative ever, was a western. Westerns dramatized the "Wild" West as a chaotic wasteland full of bandits and savages where a man would be killed for any or no reason, but historically this was not the case. Statistically the west was actually very peaceful outside of the wars, especially compared to cities out east. The big outlaws, shootouts and murders were simply very publicized because they were unusual. Still, many of these more famous incidents showed how loose the power of the law was out in the frontier, as in several cases, you had several figures who had been on both sides of the law (Billy the Kid’s Regulators, Wyatt Earp’s revenge ride, etc) usually due to conflicting interests between locally powerful factions.

The Unification of Germany[edit]

One of the aftereffects of Napoleons brief stint into making France the all-encompassing superpower of Europe was that he motivated quite a lot of people to identify themselves with their nation instead of families or rulers. The place where this nascent idea of Nationalism reverberated the most were the German states. Liberal and nationalist ideas that sought to unify Germany into one nation ultimately culminated in a series of revolutions that all failed until Prussia, under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck (a man with a political genius as massive as his mustache), kicked the Austrians out of the German territories and won the successive war against France in 1871.

The unification of Germany marked a massive power shift in the balance of the European powers, the weakest power in the European concert (Prussia) suddenly became the strongest on the continent, with a massive population, a disciplined and modern army that ground every enemy it faced into the dirt like they were nothing and a huge industrial base that was kicked into overdrive once the multitude of national barriers between the small German dukedoms were abolished (also helped by the reparations France had to pay to the Germans as well as the capture of Alsace-Lothringia and its rich deposits of ore). It grew so fast and rapidly that only in the span of 30 years, it managed to surpass the production of steel and coal of every other imperial power in the world, including Britain and the United States and singlehandedly pioneered large-scale industral chemical production with inventions like, for example, the Haber process for synthesizing Ammonia from atmospheric Nitrogen (invaluable and irreplaceable in anything that has to do with anorganic chemistry).

The Germans, being late to the party as far as Imperialism was concerned, wanted a piece of that big fat colonial cake that they felt were owed and used their industrial and military leverage to exhibit massive pressure on the other powers of Europe. This, combined with the inherent semi-feudal social order that persisted in Prussia since the 1600s and a rampant militarism of the entire German society, lead to a very aggressive nationalist machismo which ultimately contributed a lot to the crisis that lead to World War One with all of its cataclysmic consequences. Nearly all negative stereotypes people associate with Germany to this day, like militarism, brutishness, obedience, lack of humour, strict workplace discipline, punctuality and being unemotional come from this particular era. The culture that this attitude bred eventually lead to the mindset that gave to the Nazis after Germanys defeat in The Great War and only started to fizzle out after the old elites of the German Empire were permanently removed from power after World War Two forced the Germans to reinvent themselves and their nation.

The British Empire[edit]

Teacup.png I dare say, this page is delightfully British. Spot of tea?

"On her dominions the sun never sets; before his evening rays leave the spires of Quebec, his morning beams have shone three hours on Port Jackson, and while sinking from the waters of Lake Superior, his eye opens upon the Mouth of the Ganges."

– The Caledonian Mercury

Remember the British East India Company from the Age of Enlightenment? Well, eventually Britain decided to drop the pretense that it was merely an English corporation that was building colonies everywhere and just owned it that, yes, they were trying to take over the world. They hadn't been the only ones; the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Germans, Russians, and several American presidents were as well, and near the end Japan would try to get in on the action.

The Napoleonic wars left the British in the enviable position of having the world's biggest, baddest navy. A title they would hold until the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 recognized the American navy as at least roughly equal in might. They would lose it entirely after the Second World War, due to the tremendous debts of fighting that war and the previous one.

Having a massive navy at its disposal meant that the British could be extremely persuasive in dealing with anyone within sight of the sea. This persuasion was not solely political strong-arming, but also strong anti-slavery actions, with the West Africa Squadron alone freeing over a 10th of a million slaves and largely shutting down the Atlantic Triangle. At its height the British Empire had founded colonies or established protectorates on almost every major landmass on Earth, and had presences at the choke points of Gibraltar, the Suez, the Cape of Good Hope, Singapore, and the Falklands near Cape Horn. It was said that "The sun never sets on the British Empire," which is still true due to the existence of the Pitcairn Islands.

The Indian Munity[edit]

In 1853 the cost of rifling had come down enough that the British would start to transition from smooth-bore firearms supplemented by specialist riflemen, both using the slow and relatively unreliable flint lock system, to standardizing on a rifled, percussion fired gun, resulting in the 1853 Enfield. Like many firearms of this era, it was loaded by paper cartridges consisting of the powder and ball in a sealed paper sleeve that allowed loading the rifle by tearing open the cartridge (often by biting it), pouring in the powder, and ramming in the ball. This significant arms upgrade eventually reached India. In 1857 rumors (which were never proven) developed that the cartridges were sealed with animal fats including beef tallow and pork lard, pissing off the Hindu and Muslim natives, leading to the final sparks for a long brewing rebellion. Shortly into this, mutineers at Cawnpore slaughtering women and children who had surrendered would be a PR disaster for the rebels, kill any claims of legitimacy, and enrage the British public enough to warrant a very strong response. One important note is that the mutiny was not total (in-fact, the conflict was mostly contained to Bengal), and many colonial troops fought against the mutineers, particularly Sikhs who had no prohibitions on pork or beef and were keen on the idea of getting to kill Hindus and Muslims. The conflict would lead to an effective end of the British East India Company in favor of direct rule ("Raj"), which was generally a serious improvement in conditions for Indians.

While relatively short (a year and a half), there was little lull in the action and there's a lot of first hand accounts one can look through to get an understanding of combat in the era. Of particular note is the several accounts of rebels being shot multiple times with a revolver but living long enough to kill or seriously injure men with their swords, which remain important in any consideration of knife vs. gun. One officer, Hodson of the British even managed to kill ~10 rebels with a spear by abusing a narrow doorway.

As a side note, the rifle at the center of this would eventually be exported to the Confederate States of America (see above) in large numbers, which after its defeat would then be sold surplus to the post-Sakoku Japanese government (see above again).

The Boer Wars[edit]

During the Napoleonic Wars the British gained control of every Dutch colony, and while they handed most of them back afterwards, they decided the Cape colony in what is now South Africa was too good to let go, so they bought it. The Dutch weren't in a position to refuse the offer. A long series of disputes arising from this rose to war between inhabitants and the British Empire. Both wars were disasters for the British (even though they eventually won the second through overwhelming force) thanks to trying Napoleonic tactics in an era of rifled repeating firearms. This was even worse in the first war since the British had not yet ditched their bright red uniforms and things did not improve in the early stages of the Second Boer War and Redvers Buller, in charge on behalf of Garnet Wolseley, proved an unmitigated failure losing battle after battle. After Buller got fired and was replaced by Wolseley's rival (to such an extent that the British army was basically split in two through tensions of Wolseley's African colonial veteran followers against the Indian service) Frederick Roberts (who lead the Indian veteran contingents in the rivalry), the Brits won on the field and things devolved to an insurgency which was brutally suppressed. Adding insult to injury, Roberts replaced Wolseley as Commander-in-Chief after the war.

These wars are largely forgotten except by military historians due to its premonitions of things to come. One thing that survives the wars however is the term "Commando", which originally referred to the organization of the Boer forces during the wars and acquired its modern usage due to their unorthodox (for the time) tactics it enabled.


  • This was the Era where Europe, and the nations descended from them, truly and unquestionably ruled the world. The British Empire alone controlled a quarter of the globe and the few nations that were capable of resisting European imperialism were entirely dependent on them. With that came a lot of nastiness. You see, the notion that people not born with a silver spoon up their arses being more than mostly expendable meatshields carried over from middle ages hasn't catched on yet, and this went double for foreigners. The ruthlessness and blatant disregard for human life with which the Imperial powers of that time exploited the people they ruled over caused, later down the line, most of the efforts of decolonization and the brutal struggle of the underclasses for equal rights and humane treatment.
  • The agricultural revolution, where machines and other modern technology were applied to farming, accompanied the industrial revolution. Indeed, this fed it by allowing enough food to be produced that the majority of workers could take factory jobs instead of agricultural work.
  • Several technologies supported the process of industrialization. Steam Power helped kick things off by revolutionizing manufacturing and transportation, but two others were also important. Large machinery and tall buildings required steel to become cheap enough that it could be made on a massive scale. Historically, making good-quality steel was a time-consuming process that needed the careful attention of expert craftsmen. But with the Bessemer process, bellows would be used to blast hot air directly into the molten iron to get it hot enough to melt impurities. Electricity also helped tremendously, allowing for much longer working cycles through lightbulbs and improved communications through telegraph and radio.
  • The invention of vapor-compression cycle cooling was also a major innovation of this era, although until electricity became widely available its use was mostly constrained to steam powered dairies in cities. This allowed for much denser and heavily mechanized industrial centers, as well greater population in warmer areas. The flush toilet and toilet paper also originated at this time.
  • Vulcanized rubber arose during this era. While important for sealing and tires, one major change this facilitated was in clothing. The elastic waistband brought about modern undergarments among other things. The first plastics also arose during this era, but these early plastics were brittle and had few practical uses, so the true rise of plastics would not be till the era of The World Wars and and beyond.
  • Food preservation made large advances. In most of history methods were limited to drying (though methods including salt, smoke and/or sugar), pickling and (in climates that allowed it) freezing food, all of which originated in the Bronze Age at the latest. Now methods like jarring and canning (though early sealing methods turned out to be toxic themselves) food emerged and serious improvements to old methods like like quick freezing, the electric icemaker/freezer/refrigerator (domestic versions won't appear till the interwar though), freeze drying, and spray drying led to food that took less and less space while having lifespans measured in years. These methods continue to be refined in the current era, largely through new materials and understanding of microscopic organisms.
    • To add to that, the invention of Beef Extract by the German chemist Justus von Liebig revolutionized the way food could be produced at larger scales at less of a cost. It served as the catalyst for the invention of most modern processed foods and the birth of large scale food factories, where cheap food could be produced to feed an ever increasing amount of mouths, further accelerating the population boom that conincided with the improvement of healthcare that is outlined below.
  • The invention of modern medicine, which arguably started with the Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis' research into the childbed fever (a dangerous infection of the uterus thorugh bacteria that enter the body after giving birth), delivered the modern template of how medical research is conducted. Combined with the rise of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, this lead to a massive increase of birth rates and life expectancy for every human on the planet. As a result, the world population increased rapidly, starting in the 1850s, a trend that peaked in the 1960s and is continuously decreasing ever since (not that bad of a thing as one might think, with climate change, limited resources and all)
  • The Scramble for Africa begins in 1881 and ends in 1914. Almost all modern "explorer" cliches and imagery began here, Theodore Roosevelt's midadventures, or the Indiana Jones movies. The two main exceptions, the coonskin cap American and breastplate clad Spanish Conquistador, are both strongly linked to a specific type and time of explorer instead of explorers in general. The Pith Helmet, binoculars, khaki overalls and cutting through foliage with big knives stereotype started here.
  • Human flight was first achieved in this era. In 1783 the first air balloon flight took place, and was used for military use in 1794. The Wright Flyer took flight in late 1903, marking the first heavier than air flying machine. Zeppelins became practical just before World War I.
  • Naval technology went through multiple revolutions. The wooden sailing ships of the Napoleonic Wars gave way to ironclad tallships with steam and sail propulsion, only to be replaced in turn by steel armored warships. The famous duel of the Merrimack and the Monitor marked the end of the sail, the Turbinia led to a transition to turbine engines, and the British dreadnought heralded the modern battleship. The first submarines appeared, although the concept wouldn't be perfected until the Great War.

The appeal of the Industrial Revolution[edit]

This era produced many things modern people take for granted and have difficulty considering life without. The rise of film and audio recording during this era and mass printing of advertisement and newspapers during this era mean there is no shortage of records of daily life, so this era is fairly well understood. Of particular note is that the late 1800s printed mail order catalogs started being printed, and these now provide quality information on everyday items, complete with cost and illustrations, that simply don't exist in earlier eras. Those researching earlier eras for this kind of thing have to go through the rare surviving records of estate sales, government orders and business transactions to get a fraction the understanding a layman can obtain from viewing a simple public domain catalog. These have proven such good resources some historically set RPGs outright say to find catalogs from companies like Bannerman (A surplus arms dealer so successful he built a castle on a private island next to West Point as an advertisement, since everyone traveling the Hudson had to see the sign on it), Montgomery Ward, and Sears Roebuck to fill in the blanks of the equipment list. Before this period, historians were mostly concerned with Big Things: wars, generals, kings, nobles, priests and the occasional artist, merchant, architect, engineer or inventor thrown in, often because there was so few records of the common man. In the Industrial Revolution historians became able and willing to adequately research the way people lived their lives day to day, from well-to-do merchants and skilled tradesmen to factory workers to scavengers picking through garbage for bones, rages, scraps of metal and dog turds to sell.

The Industrial Revolution allowed for inventors to not only create meaningful new creations, but see them become common overnight. Before the Industrial Revolution changes generally happened slowly with various small tweaks on things and methods, the compilation of said tweaks rolling over and the occasional breakthrough like the water wheel or gunpowder every once and a while which would take centuries to come into it's own. A peasant would assume that his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren would till the soil just as he did with what changes that did happen in his lifetime being largely minor stuff that tweaked the board but did not change the game. Industrialization changed all that, lives were changed for better or worse by mechanization suddenly and totally. Progress became an idea that would drive the world, even if problems were also mounting. People came to understand that the past was not just the present which happened beforehand and the future could be more than just more of the same. It's not surprising that science fiction started up in the 19th century, as did horror. Jules Verne, HG Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe were all active writers of the era.

This time was also one of upheaval socially and politically. Before the Industrial Revolution people generally operated on the idea that one should "Know One's Station", that society was divided into classes that were (with various degrees of legal formality enforcing this) hereditary, static and instead of trying to get out of them they should stay in them, stay out of the affairs of people of other classes and obey their betters. If you were a peasant you'd work for your lord, obey his orders, treat him with reverence as a higher form of human, be jolly grateful to have such a man as your master and avoid thinking about all that politics stuff which is none of your business. While this had not died out in the Industrial Revolution (see all of England's class stuff), it was on the decline both from gradual erosion and active resistance.

The source of wealth shifted from farms and fields to factories and companies which the merchant classes now owned. To be a noble you needed a peerage at least (in England that is, the rest of Europe, especially Spain and Germany remained static feudal societies at heart, while the French and eventually the Russians abolished it in a literally cutthroat fashion) and preferably a dozen generations of pedigree which your fellow nobs would respect even if you were broke, to be a captain of industry you just needed a lot of money invested in the right companies. It was possible for a poor man to rise to the highest echelons of society in the Industrial Revolution. The downside of it was that these rich buggers tended to view the poor which could not rise from rags (ignoring of course how most of these nouveau riche then made it as difficult as possible for anyone to actually join their ranks) as being lazy incompetents that were only fit for ruthless exploitation and that attempting to help them out (beyond providing them with just enough education for them to do whatever work the rich needed them to do and healthy enough to keep working) was not only useless, but an active evil in the long term since it meant only more of them in the long run. To quote Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol:

"Many cannot go there [Workhouses and Prisons] and many would rather die."

“If they'd rather die, they'd better do it and decrease the surplus population."

Such treatment of the working class, combined with the belief that as the actual producers of wealth it should rightfully belong to the workers, would lead to Karl Marx writing the Communist Manifesto':, creating communism, one of the most notable ideologies of the 20th century and also one of the most controversial.

The Industrial Revolution people had oppressive rigid order and stability swapped out for opportunities to excel and thrive or crash and burn. You could be born dirt poor and rise to riches, or you might start out as a skilled tradesmen who ends up as just another disposable factory worker.

That attitude about the poor went doubly so for the colonial subjects and non-white people in general. In 1876 there was a drought which led to crop failure in much of India, instead of importing food to feed the affected masses (which they'd done not long before successfully) the Raj Government allowed merchants to stockpile grain and sell it abroad to drive the price up. The result was famine and starvation which killed 6-10 million people. The Belgians in the Congo made this look saintly by comparison.

The Industrial Revolution is the start of the Modern World and many of its issues still persist to this day. People can relate more to an Industrial Revolution era person more easily than that of a peasant in the Middle Ages, a serf in the Dark Ages, a citizen soldier of the Classical Era, a scribe at a pharaoh's court, a priest king in the Fertile Crescent or Grug and his rocks. The downside of this is that these issues are still politically charged to this day.

Industrial Revolution inspired Games, Factions and Settings[edit]

  • Steampunk
  • Much of Discworld
  • Eberron before the Last War. After it Eberron is a cross between Industrial Revolution and interwar.
  • Arcanum is a magical world that is currently undergoing a revolution.
  • Iron Kingdoms's whole schtick is that it's a typical fantasy setting that developed into this.
  • The Skaven, particularly their Weapons Teams and anything related to Clan Skryre. Thankfully one of the reasons why they never achieved world domination in one fell swoop is the overall lack of quality control on their gadgets.

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Historical Time Periods
Premodern: Stone Age - Bronze Age - Classical Period - Dark Age - High Middle Ages - Renaissance
Modern: Age of Enlightenment - Industrial Revolution - The World Wars - The Cold War - Post-Cold War