The American Civil War was not the only event of global significance in early 1863. On January 22, 1863, the Polish inhabitants of the Russian Empire rose up against the government of Tsar Alexander II. The uprising resulted in atrocities on both sides before being savagely suppressed in the following year.
Indirectly, the Polish uprising would align Russia with the Union. Anticipating Anglo-French intervention in support of the Poles, Alexander ordered two naval squadrons to winter in New York and San Francisco. Alexander’s motives were self-interested. Docked in America, his navy would be much safer than it would be in Russia’s ice-bound ports. Nonetheless, the appearance of Russia’s navy provided a significant morale boost for a Union that had its own reasons to be wary of Anglo-French intentions.