Sunday, June 20, 2021

Malheur

One Step at a Time
Doug Hall

(Source)

As the bedraggled French soldiers moved away from the fort, Sergent Malheur let Sergent Bernard know, in no uncertain terms, that by right of seniority he was now in command. Bernard tried to protest, but he did so in vain. Bernard realized that he was completely out of his depth in this situation.

Sergent Louis Malheur had been a soldier for over twenty years, first in Europe, now here in the New World. His regiment had arrived in Quebec three years ago. He had served on garrison duty in that town until he had been told to retire. Not asked, but told. He could have gone back to France but he chose to stay in New France.

After casting about for employment, he had been in a small tavern on the Rue Saint-Louis when he had been accosted by a sergeant recruiting for the Compagnies franches de la marine.

"You there, you look like a soldier. We could use a fellow like you in the Compagnies!"

Malheur had turned to look at the man, "My own regiment, the Régiment de Carignan-Salières didn't want me, why should la marine want me?"

The man had sidled up to Malheur, "Different rules mon vieux¹, we belong to the Navy not those old women of the Army."

When Malheur started to bristle at the insult, the sergeant of la marine sat down, "No insult intended, I am Pierre Tournières. We need experienced men in la marine, many of our recruits are young and inexperienced, an old hand like you would be welcome."

One thing led to another, which is how Sergent Louis Malheur found himself in the wilderness far to the south of Quebec City. He knew that if he struck out for the north, very few of the men would make it, they were children in this vast wilderness. The Abenaki might give them succor, but after the bloody defeat they had suffered at the hands of les anglais, they might turn against them as well. Malheur figured they were on their own.

"Hold up!" he had commanded when the men had entered the edge of the cleared zone near the fort. Bernard looked at him in confusion.

"Les anglais commanded us to leave. Why are we stopping?"

Malheur turned in amazement, "Since when do we belong to les anglais? A pox on them. We will camp here for the moment. There is no sense in setting out into the forest with no plan, no direction, and no supplies. We wait."


The Gaudry brothers and their Abenaki friend left the Frenchmen who had fled with Alain in what they had hoped was a safe place. Alain had let them know that moving about in the forest could get them killed. The Mohicans were certainly still around. After leaving them, they had returned to the ambush site, as Alain had figured, there were still muskets and other equipment laying about. The Mohican had no need of them, they did. So they re-armed themselves.

"Little Wolf, do you think your kinsmen might lend us aid? We need to guide those other soldiers back to the north, they cannot do it themselves." Alain said as they made their way towards the fort, alert for any sign of the enemy.

Little Wolf shook his head, "It will be another moon before my people will return to war, they have many to bury, many to mourn. But they will return to the warpath, eventually. Though I think not against les anglais."

Alain saw the truth of the matter, he turned to Jacques and said, "We must lead them north as best we can. We know the way."

"We don't have canoes brother, we will have to go on foot." Jacques pointed out.

"I know, but if the soldiers stay here, they will die."

Turning to Little Wolf, "You do not have to help us my brother. You have done enough."

Little Wolf looked disappointed. "I will not abandon my French brothers, you are the only kin I have left. Come let use make contact with the other soldiers. We need to start soon."


Malheur awakened just before dawn, something wasn't right. Getting up he looked for the sentries, all of them were asleep. He also discovered that Sergent Bernard was gone, along with fifteen men. Apparently he was going to strike out on his own.

The fool.

As he stood there, looking into the forest, almost bereft of hope, he heard a voice call out to him. A French voice.

"Hallo, Sergent Malheur, it is Private Alain Gaudry!"

Malheur was instantly on alert, he had seen Gaudry slip into the woods with a few others before he could stop them. But he had come back, he wondered why.

"Advance and be recognized." Malheur called.

Alain approached, he was armed, his brothers had scrounged weapons from the dead, firelocks, tomahawks, and enough powder and shot to make him feel safe again. He might be killed in the forest, but not without a fight.

"Sergent." Alain walked into the open, firelock in the crook of his left arm, his right hand raised in a sign of peace.

"Gaudry, where did you get a firelock?"

"There are many in the forest, the Mohicans did not take any. There are more. I wish to help you get away from this place. My brothers and I have traveled this land, we know the forest, we know the people. If you stay here, you will die."

"You abandoned your post Private..."

"Only to make contact with my brothers, one of whom is Abenaki. You must rouse your men, we need to start moving."

"Where are we going?"

"Montréal."

"How can I trust you?" Malheur was suspicious.

"Whether you trust me or not, I don't care. I and my brothers are going north, to Montréal, if you wish to come, then come. If you do not, then stay. I will give you until the sun is one finger above that mountain." He pointed to the ridge in the distance. "We will return to see you ready to travel, or ready to die. It is your choice."

"Give me time to rouse the men, we will go now. I see no other choice."

"You are a wise man mon Sergent. Make haste."


Sergeant Rutland reported to Major Jenkins, "Sir, the French, they've gone. Moved north I think."

"Good riddance to them. Now find my orderly, we have a busy day ahead. Sarn't Major!" Jenkins was bellowing for the senior non-commissioned officer, as he did at the start of every day.

Rutland was beginning to wonder who actually commanded the unit.


Editor's Note: Posting may dwindle to virtual silence over the next cuppla. We have family in town and a very sick kitty to boot. Things may get hectic this week. My morale is in the dumpster, thank the Lord that The Nuke and her tribe are inbound. Seeing the grandkids will be nice. A bientôt.



¹ My pal (vieux also means "old")

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Into the Forest

(Source)

Sergeant Major Jacobs didn't agree with what Major Jenkins, his commanding officer, was doing. He stood there, hands on his hips, as he surveyed the French prisoners. They had captured forty-three of them on the field of battle. The Mohicans had pursued the survivors who had fled into the forest, they brought back five men, all of whom had been roughly handled. One of them had died in the night from his wounds.

"Forty-seven of 'em Sarn't Major. I don't give 'em much of a chance out there in the wilderness. It's a long walk to Montréal." Sergeant Rutland shook his head, it seemed inhuman to release these men and subject them to the mercies of the wilderness and the natives. He wagered that less than a dozen might survive the trek.

"Orders, Rutland."

Rutland shook his head, "I know Sarn't Major but..."

"I already pled their case to the Major. He's reluctant to send these men back to Rumford under guard. Which he has a point, that would require thirty to forty men of ours, and we can't afford that reduction in strength. Particularly now that Leftenant Jefferson has gone off in a snit with his Mohicans." Jacobs looked to where the Major was instructing Captain Manderson on the changes he wanted to make to the fort to accommodate the increased garrison.

Rutland turned to one of the two surviving French sergeants, a man with the odd (yet fitting) name of Malheur¹, "Nous avons nos ordres Sergent, vous devez quitter cet endroit immédiatement. Vous ne serez pas autorisé à entrer dans le fort.²"

Sergent Malheur simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "Je comprends, c'est la guerre, que faire?³"

Jacobs looked in amazement at Rutland, "You speak French like a bloody Frog!"

Rutland grinned and said, "I actually spent some time in France. That idyll came to an end when the lady's parents objected to my presence. So I left in rather a hurry, wound up here in the New World."

"You're a man of many surprises, Rutland." Jacobs shook his head as he said that, the man was educated, that much was plain to see.


Alain told the men near him, "Stay with me, I know the forest. My brothers will be there and will help get us to freedom."

Sergent Bernard gave Alain a nasty look, "You men will stay with your company and not wander off. You are still soldiers of the Compagnies franches de la marine and will obey orders."

Alain just looked at the man, "Bon chance Sergent. I truly hope you might find your way home, but I fear that your scalp will adorn a warrior's lodge before you have traveled two days."

"Cochon! How dare you..."

They were interrupted by a party of English soldiers, all with bayonets fixed to their firelocks. "Up you dogs, time to move. Allez, allez!" Which was all the French they knew.


Five of the men went with Alain. Before entering the forest, he bade them take off their greyish-white coats, the blue of their waistcoats wouldn't stand out as much in the shadows of the forest.

"What if the night is cold Alain?" one of them asked.

"Then you huddle with your mates, that white coat is like a bright beacon in the wilderness, it cries out to the Mohicans, 'Come, come and take my scalp!'" Alain told the man, a very young soldier named Louis.

The men followed Alain willingly enough, they knew that to stay with the others was to die. The sergeants had insisted the men march in a column, bunched together. Alain knew that most of them would die in the forest, the lucky ones. The unlucky would be taken to an Indian camp and slowly tortured to death. It was the way of many of the tribes.

Within an hour of entering the forest, one of the men with Alain stopped and groaned, "Mon Dieu, we are dead men."

For there, just up the trail, stood two of the natives of this savage land.


Little Wolf's face broke into a broad grin when he recognized Alain among les français staggering through the woods, only Alain would move with such confidence in the forest, his feet making almost no mark on the forest floor.

"Ça va mon frere?" Little Wolf called down to the man he knew as a brother.

Alain looked up, he thought he had recognized Little Wolf, but he was surprised to see Jacques with him, he had feared that his brother had been killed. The last he had seen him, he had been fighting hand to hand with a large Mohican warrior.

"Brother, you yet live?" Alain called out.

"The Mohican has not been born who could kill a Gaudry, my brother. Who are these children you bring with you?" Jacques called in a laughing tone, in Abenaki so that the other Frenchmen wouldn't understand.

"Survivors my brother, like you and me. We need to be away from here. One of les anglais left the fort with a number of Mohican scouts, I fear his plan is to kill the captives who were released this morning."

"Released? To go where?" Jacques asked in astonishment, knowing full well that the soldiers he knew wouldn't last a day in the wild on their own.

"Supposedly to return to New France, but you and I know that is ridiculous, the bastard anglais sentenced them to a slow death. It would have been better for them to have just bayoneted us on the spot." Alain answered, anger and sadness mixed in his voice.

Little Wolf looked at the French and said, "We have lingered too long. We must be away and quickly, tell your friends that if they cannot keep up, they will most surely die at the hands of the Mohican."

Alain did so, two of the soldiers looked as if they would sit down and cry, until Alain told them of the sort of death they could expect from the Indians.

The party was off and moving briskly in no time. Little Wolf went ahead, both to scout a path and also to stay away from the Frenchmen, who were making more noise than a wounded bear. If they survived the night, he would be amazed.





¹ Malheur translates to bad luck or misfortune.
² We have our orders, Sergeant, you must leave this place immediately. You will not be allowed to enter the fort.
³ I understand, it is war, what can one to do?

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Aftermath

(Source)

Standing Wolf came into the fort seeking Lieutenant Jefferson. Seeing him talking to Major Jenkins outside the soldiers' barracks, he walked in that direction. His heart was heavy, six English soldiers had been wounded in the fighting, only one seriously, but twenty-two Mohican warriors had fallen in the battle in the woods. Some of the French soldiers had fought fiercely and even though most of the Abenaki and Wyandot scouts had been taken down early in the fight, some of them had taken a Mohican warrior with them to the spirit world.

In the middle of their conversation, Lieutenant Jefferson noticed Standing Wolf, waiting patiently to talk with the English officers. "Standing Wolf, my brother, you are troubled."

"Yes Blue Eyes, we lost many warriors in the forest. Grey Bear would like to take our dead to a place where they can be sent to the spirit world properly. I know of your customs of burying the dead, we do that as well, but only after a period of days. And it must be near our ancestral home. He would take only twenty warriors, leaving the others here at the fort."

Jenkins nodded and said, "This is only right. Take what time you need. The French are not a threat right now. Neither are the Abenaki. We hurt them bad enough that it will be some time before they attempt another attack. Go my friend, take care of your dead, they died bravely and well."

Standing Wolf nodded and said, "I shall tell Grey Bear of your decision Long Knife, you are wise. I, however, will not be going. Grey Bear wants me to lead the warriors being left here."

"Very well, I, for one, am glad you are staying," Jenkins said.


Jacques and Little Wolf had managed to avoid the Mohicans who were hunting down the fleeing French stragglers. Most of them were killed and scalped when caught. Some were taken prisoner. Jacques was surprised to see one small party of captives being taken back to the fort. He looked at Little Wolf and said, "They are taking them to les anglais? I would have thought that the Mohicans would have taken them to their own camp and tortured them."

"No, I think the chief of les anglais wishes to talk with them. To try and find out why the French were here. Perhaps they don't know that the war drums have sounded between les français and les anglais." Little Wolf spoke as if were unsure, which he was, his dealings with Europeans other than the Gaudry brothers were limited.

"I did not see Alain among the captives." Jacques was beginning to despair of his brother's survival.

"I think he is still alive, he is a strong man, and smart."


Alain Gaudry was indeed still alive. He had been knocked unconscious by a fragment of another man's skull when the first English volley had torn into their ranks. The man in front of him had been hit, his head shattered, Alain had also been doused with that man's blood. The English soldier who had found him was stunned that he was alive. He had looked awful.

Other than a throbbing headache and a large knot on his forehead, Alain was very much alive. He was in a makeshift stockade where the English were keeping their captives. All of whom were French, none of whom were his brother Jacques. He was worried about his brothers, he included Little Wolf in that category. He had not seen a single Abenaki or Wyandot survivor from the battle.

What would he tell his father if he ever returned to New France? His father was right, they should have stayed coureurs de bois, Alain had had more than enough adventure wearing a uniform. Army life did not suit him at all.


"Begging your pardon Major, but what are we going to do with these prisoners?" Captain Manderson was new to the frontier, he had heard stories of prisoners being killed out of hand. But surely that was the savages, not his fellow Englishmen.

"I suspect I'll need to put a party together and take them back to Rumford. Let the Crown worry about them. I certainly don't want to either house them or feed them for very long." Major Jenkins looked out towards the river, he could see the Mohican burial party crossing the Cannitticutt. Grey Bear had said that they would return "before the next moon," which Jenkins interpreted as the next full moon, which was in roughly two weeks.

"Your Sergeant Major, MacDuff I believe, is he reliable?"

"Yes Sir, he's a good man, was in the Coldstream Guards before coming out here. Apparently there was something about a gambling debt. Couldn't stay with the Guards of course, but the Governor saw fit to make him a sergeant major, and he's proven himself rather good at it. Why?"

Jenkins thought for a moment, then said, "I'd like you to take a detachment of thirty to forty men and escort the prisoners back to Rumford. Your man MacDuff can command your company while you're gone. Is that acceptable to you?"

It was Manderson's turn to think. The trip out here had been arduous to say the least, he didn't relish making the trip back to Rumford then returning here again, and so soon. "Might I have some of your Mohicans as scouts? I'd feel much better about the round trip."

"Who wants my warriors and for what?" Lieutenant Jefferson jumped into the conversation unbidden and unexpected as he walked up.

"At ease Leftenant, I know how you feel about colonial officers. Out here, I don't care what London says, I am your superior officer. I would like to attach some of your men as scouts to Captain Manderson's column when he takes the French prisoners to Rumford."

Jefferson arched at eyebrow at that, "Why waste the manpower, Sir, if I might be so bold, Sir? Just let the Frenchies go free, tell 'em to head north. I doubt that we'll ever have to worry about them again."

Manderson was rather shocked at the cold-bloodedness of Jefferson's proposal, perhaps they were all savages out here, this lieutenant certainly dressed like one. Then again, to not have to make that trip?

"That is quite out of the question Leftenant, it is barbarous that you should suggest such a thing..." Jenkins began.

"On the other hand, Major..." Manderson interjected.

"What, you as well, Captain?"

"The Abenaki are their allies, surely they won't harm these Frenchmen. The trek north would take them many days, and you have already detached a sizeable number of Mohicans from your command, detaching another thirty to forty men would leave you weak here. If the Abenaki were to gather their strength..." Manderson made it all sound so reasonable.

Then Jefferson chimed in again, "The scouts are my men Major, I am seconded to the 29th Foot and their commander sent me to rally the Mohicans to our side. I am not under your command, neither officially nor by any agreement between the Governor of this province and the Crown. I am free to come and go as I see fit in order to accomplish my mission. Need I remind you, Major, that because of my position in the Foot Guards, I rank as a major in the regular service. Also, as I am an officer in the King's Guard, I am certainly higher in rank than a mere colonial."

Jenkins began to turn bright red, he was astonished at the effrontery of this man. "You Sir, are, I might remind you, thousands of miles from London and your precious regiment. I hold the command of this fort, if you wish to remain here, you will obey my commands. Otherwise, I invite you and your scouts to depart."

Oh dear Lord, what have I gotten into the middle of? Manderson asked himself.

Jefferson simply nodded, turned on his heel and called out, "Standing Wolf, gather the men. We are going north to hunt the Abenaki!"

They marched out of the fort that very day.


Sergeant Major Jacobs stood atop the western palisade with his commanding officer, who was still fuming as he watched Jefferson and his Mohicans head out of the fort, then bend to the north.

"Bloody pompous ass." Major Jenkins muttered.

Jacobs simply said, "Begging yer pardon Sir, that was a mistake. I hope it doesn't get us all bloody well killed. Begging yer pardon. Sir."

Jenkins said nothing, he knew that Jacobs was right and he knew he could have handled things better. As he watched the scouts disappear into the woods, he turned to Jacobs and said, "Tomorrow morning cut the Frenchies loose, send 'em home, send 'em north."

"Sir?"

"You heard me Sarn't Major." Jenkins then went down the ladder and to his quarters without another word.

Jacobs sighed, then shook his head, "Bleeding officers and their bleeding honor."



Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

They Had No Chance

(Source)

Surprisingly, the company sent out from Rumford under Captain Horace Manderson had arrived at the fort without having seen any trouble along the way. Two men died on the trip out, one from a fall, the other a suicide, but Manderson had left Rumford with 97 men, he'd arrived with 95.

"So this is Number Five." Captain Manderson said after doffing his cap to Major Samuel Jenkins.

"Number Five, Captain?" Jenkins looked puzzled.

"Yes, the Governor of New Hampshire refers to this place as Number Five, seems logical as we have posts running up the Cannitticutt starting with Number One, we're north of Number Four, so..."

"Ah yes, makes perfect sense.¹" 

"So Major, where would you like my men to bivouac? It's obvious there isn't enough room within the fort to accommodate all of us, so..."

At that moment one of the Mohicans raised a blood-curdling cry from atop the westward facing palisade. While most of the Englishmen turned in that direction, Lieutenant Will Jefferson and his Mohican companion, Standing Wolf, looked to the west, towards the river. Within moments they could see what Tall Crow had seen from his higher vantage point, a party of Mohican warriors coming up from the river.

"How many do you see Standing Wolf?" Jefferson asked, shading his eyes against the afternoon sun.

"Many warriors, Blue Eyes, sixty-seven by your way of counting. There, you see the tall man in the front? That, my friend, is Grey Bear."

Jefferson could now see the man Standing Wolf mentioned. A very large warrior, both tall and broad, his hair was grey, like a wolf's pelt. He was a man of some years but from the look of him, he was a powerful man. Jefferson now understood why his name was known along the length of the Cannitticutt.

"Lieutenant!" Jefferson heard his name being called, he turned to see the Major walking towards him along with the new captain.

"Sir, how may I be of service?" Jefferson doffed his hat to both men. It wasn't really necessary as a Guards lieutenant stood higher in the service than even a major in the colonial service. But he knew when to subordinate himself to the greater good, which was keeping the men in the fort alive.

After introducing Manderson and Jefferson, Jenkins said, "I would greatly appreciate you taking command of my old company, Leftenant. I believe our Mohican allies have two war chiefs now to lead them. So they might dispense with your services?"

"It would be my honor Sir. Standing Wolf expressed much the same thought." He looked over to where the Mohicans were greeting each other. As he watched, he saw a man come running towards the fort from the north.  He thought he recognized the man, ah yes, He Laughs, a most ironic name for a man who seldom smiled.

He saw the man talking with Standing Wolf and Grey Bear, then saw Standing Wolf point in his direction. He Laughs immediately ran up to him as the Mohicans began to move off to the north.

"Blue Eyes, the French are coming down the valley, my people are going out to meet them and slow them down. Grey Bear says that if you form a line with your fire sticks south of the little river, you can kill many Frenchmen. We will be in the woods to either side of the trail they use. None will escape." He Laughs had said all of this in Abenaki, which Jefferson spoke rather well now. Of course, neither Jenkins nor Manderson had any idea of what was said.

So Jefferson quickly explained as He Laughs ran off to join his people. Jenkins' eyes lit up.

"Sarn't Major! Muster the battalion immediately. We march north as soon as you're quite ready!"

"If you'll excuse me Sir?" Manderson tipped his hat as he walked over to take charge of his own company.

Jenkins let the men in his own company know that they were to follow Jefferson into battle, "You go to war with one of the finest scouts on the frontier. An officer in His Majesty's Foot Guard!"

Sergeant Rutland immediately raised a "Huzzah!" Within minutes the men were formed in march column and were setting off.²


"Alain, something is wrong, I can sense it." Jacques Gaudry looked nervously at his brother. Their sergeant looked back and nearly told them to be quiet, but he too was nervous. He knew the brothers had experience in this wilderness.

"Yes, Jacques, there are people to our flanks and they are not our allies. Where are our flankers and lead scouts?"

The column marched on, though a ripple passed down it as more of the men felt an unseen presence. As for the Abenaki and Wyandot scouts, most of them were dead, ambushed and overwhelmed with barely a whisper. Little Wolf still lived, he had pulled the corpse of a dead Abenaki over himself, feigning death as the Mohican passed him by.


Sous-Lieutenant Louis François Joseph Marie de Vignerot was marching idly along beside the first men in the column. He could see that the trees began to thin out just ahead. The young noble had superb eyesight and thought he saw people forming up in the fields past the edge of the forest. People in red uniforms. As he turned to tell Capitaine Alphonse Étienne Comte du Langeron of his observation, he thought one of his soldiers had punched him from behind. He was puzzled and not a little upset.

Sergent Pierre Caillou couldn't believe his eyes as the young lieutenant sank to his knees, blood was beginning to issue from his mouth as well. Only when the young man fell onto his face did the sergeant see the arrow in his back.

"Alarme! Alarme! Les indiens attaquent!³" As the sergeant bellowed his warning, the man next to him spun around and fell onto him, an arrow protruding from the side of his head.

"Steady! Form up, form line!" The captain was trying to get the men to deploy into a firing line, then realized that would be impossible here in the trees.

"Advance! To the meadow! Third company, cover the rear!"


Major Jenkins watched as the French came stumbling from the woods, they were trying to form ranks to fire upon the Indians attacking their flanks, and now their rear. It seemed that they had not noticed the English formed to their front.

"Battalion will advance!" Jenkins commanded.

The drummers began to beat the pace as the line advanced. Some of the French heard those drums and turned, not sure what to think. Once they realized that the soldiers were English, some of them tried to form a line to face the advancing red ranks.

It was far too late.


Third Company had managed to semi-form and fire a single volley. A number of the Indians went down, but these new troops were very slow to reload. Before they could fire another volley, a tide of screaming Mohican warriors overwhelmed them.

Capitaine Alphonse Étienne Comte du Langeron saw his Third Company torn to red ruins in mere moments. He drew his sword.

"Second Company! To me! First Company, about face. Sergent Malheur take command of the First!"

As he turned to take the Second Company under command and face the English, the red coated ranks fired a volley.

(Source)

The French battalion was in utter ruin. Most of the men threw down their arms and begged mercy from the English. Those of the First Company who could, ran towards the English line with the Mohicans in hot pursuit.

Before the day was done and Major Jenkins regained control of his Mohican allies, one-hundred and three French soldiers were down, many of them dead, many of them wounded badly enough that they would not survive the night.

A number of the French had shed their grey-white coats and fled into the forest. Jenkins released the Mohicans to track them down. "Bring us prisoners Standing Wolf, they can give us information." Jenkins had pleaded. He truly doubted any of those Frenchmen would survive. If the forest didn't kill them, the Mohicans would.

Sergeant Major Edward Jacobs came up to Jenkins and reported, "Forty-three prisoners Sir. Some of 'em wounded, most are okay, but they're all absolutely terrified."

"Did we take any officers?" Jenkins wanted to know.

"No Sir, just two sergeants. One of 'em said that all of their officers fell, there were three of 'em I gather."

"Pity, the common soldiers won't have much information as to the French king's intentions in the New World I should think."

"Probably not Sir. King's don't hobnob with the likes of fellows like me."

Jenkins grinned, "I don't know Sarn't Major, I rather think our king would get along with you just fine."


Jacques Gaudry had stripped the clothing from a dead Abenaki. Though he now looked somewhat like a native, he was disturbed at how pale his skin was. It had been some time since he'd been long enough in the sun to darken up. Living in an army barracks wasn't conducive to that sort of thing. He gathered soil from the forest floor and rubbed it into his face and neck, arms and legs. An imperfect disguise at best he realized.

He had met up with Little Wolf and the two had hidden themselves as the Mohicans chased the French survivors through the forest. They were safe for the moment. But Jacques worried, where was his brother Alain?

They had been separated in the fierce fighting at the tail of the column. The last sight he had of Alain was his brother locked in combat with a Mohican warrior. Then he too had had to grapple with a screaming warrior who had thoughts of lifting his scalp.

His bayonet had silenced that man, but in the melee he had lost sight of Alain. Now he had to find his brother. He couldn't leave this place without knowing Alain's fate.




Maps -

The area around the Fort at Number 5
Google Maps

The area of our story.
Google Maps

The Tribes of the Northeast
(Source)

Editor's note: To my knowledge, no battle like the one I describe occurred in the vicinity where I had it taking place. It would have been very unusual for a French unit to be that far south. Unlikely and improbable, though not impossible. Call it artistic license...



¹ As I've mentioned before, the post at Number Five is entirely fictional. The posts at Numbers One through Four really did exist (see this post). There is a museum/tourist attraction in Charlestown, New Hampshire which is a recreation of the Fort at Number Four. I spent a summer there firing a cannon. Great fun.
² Jenkins had 96 men available for duty at the fort, of whom twenty were left behind under a corporal to guard the fort. Manderson's company had 95 men. So under Jenkins' immediate control were 171 men. Grey Bear and Standing Wolf controlled 73 Mohican warriors. The French numbered roughly 210 men, European and Indian. Most of the Europeans were poorly trained.
³ The Indians are attacking!

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The French Move South

(Source)

Shadow Walker watched as the party of soldiers made their way down the trail. They were not dressed as their friends the English did, these men wore coats the color of clouds on an overcast day. He turned to look at the man with him, He Laughs.

"French soldiers." Shadow Walker hissed.

He Laughs nodded.

As the two Mohicans slipped away from the enemy column, both noted that the French had scouts ahead and to either side of their column. Not Abenaki, but Irri-ronon¹. A matter of some concern, these men were a long way from their home along the Kaniatarowanenneh². They must get back to the fort and let Blue Eyes know this!


Captain Samuel Jenkins was sitting in his quarters with Lieutenant Will Jefferson and the Mohican war chief, Standing Wolf. The three men were pondering the meaning of a dispatch which had been brought to the fort by a rider from Portsmouth. Britain and France were at war and had been since March. The Governor of Massachusetts was expected to follow suit any day now.

The Governor of New Hampshire had already placed the colony on a war footing, it was expected that whatever the governor of Massachusetts did, New Hampshire would do as well. Jenkins had also been informed that another company of his regiment was on its way to them under a Captain Horace Manderson. A separate letter for him personally had notified him that he was gazetted to major upon receipt of the letter with all the rights and privileges pertaining to that rank.

"Congratulations Major Jenkins." Jefferson offered. He was torn between staying with his Mohicans or returning to his own regiment, the 29th Foot. War was coming as was the chance of promotion. He liked the idea of being promoted, he had the funds to make the purchase, but he enjoyed life on the frontier and he had come to care deeply about his Mohicans.

After the massacre in the forest, only six Mohicans remained out of a war party of nearly forty men. Standing Wolf, the war chief who led the war party, still burned at the loss of his warriors. He hated to admit that the Abenaki had outwitted him, but they had. His remaining men - Slow Fox, Small Elk, He Laughs, Shadow Walker, and Tall Crow - were still loyal and were more than ready to stay on the war path with their English brothers.

Two days ago a messenger had come into the fort from the Mohican council of sachems at Esquatak, more warriors were coming to join Standing Wolf. Great Bear of the Wolf clan, Standing Wolf's sachem, was sending his three sons with that party.

"It seems that we all have much to celebrate, Blue Eyes. You will have at least fifty warriors to help you. My sachem has confidence in you and your English soldiers. Long Knife, you are a war chief in your own right now. How many warriors will this give you?"

Jenkins had been honored with the Mohican sobriquet "Long Knife" for the sword he sometimes carried when on duty in the fort. Though they would call him Cap-i-tan on occasion, the warriors liked the name "Long Knife." He did as well.

"If they all make it," Jenkins paused as he remembered his own trip to the fort last summer, "that would give us over a hundred and fifty soldiers. With your warriors, we would be a formidable fighting force along the Cannitticutt."

Standing Wolf had a sudden vision of leading a war party to destroy the Abenaki villages all along the river. Perhaps they might even have a chance to kill French soldiers. He would enjoy that.


Alain and Jacques Gaudry were beginning to wonder if their officers had any idea of what they were doing and where they were going. Their friend Little Wolf, who spent most of the day with the flanking parties, had expressed his concerns to the French brothers.

"This trail leads us to the Great River. I have seen signs of the Iroquois along the way. They are most likely Mohawk, who are allied with les anglais. I fear we might blunder into a trap." Little Wolf shook his head as he slipped off to the Indian camp. They camped separately from les français because, as Little Wolf explained, "Most of the soldiers smell very bad."

The Gaudry brothers had noticed this as well, none of their comrades in the regiment ever seemed to bathe. They themselves were mocked because they did frequently. Something they had learned from the Abenaki.

What most concerned the brothers was the lack of training among the newer soldiers. They could march and they could fire their muskets, but that was about it. Very few had ever been in the wilderness before, in fact most of them were terrified of the deep forests and the native peoples. The Abenaki and the Wyandot loved to scare the younger troops. As they considered themselves on the warpath, they had painted themselves for war. To the young Europeans they presented a hideous aspect and the Indians liked to make warlike faces at the young troops just to unnerve them.

Little Wolf had told them, "If we are attacked, throw away your cloud-coats and head into the forest, I will find you. If you stay with the column, you will die."

Jacques turned to Alain shortly afterwards, while they were on the march again, and asked, "Why did we leave Louisbourg? We could have sat behind those walls and fought forever."

Alain wasn't so sure, "You don't know of cannon, do you brother? The enemy has many. Les anglais also control the sea, we would have been starved out had we stayed in the fortress. But Little Wolf is right, we are walking into the wilderness like a blind man walking into a room full of wildcats. Angry wildcats."

An inauspicious start to a campaign, Alain thought. Only the war chief of the Wyandot gave him any confidence, a large man named Grey Bear. He had fought in many wars. Little Wolf said that the man was known throughout all the lands by the Great River, even the Iroquois feared him, it was said.

It was also a comfort to see just how many Indians accompanied the column, many of them the fierce warriors of the Wyandot, who, for some reason, the French called "Huron." Alain had no idea why. His brother suggested that it was because the Europeans were ignorant.

"But we're Europeans Jacques." Alain protested.

"Yes, but we have seen the wilderness, we have lived with the Wyandot and the Abenaki, we have adopted many of their ways. We understand, at least I think we do."

"Don't be too sure brother. All you say is true, but you've seen them in battle, they can be barbarous."

"And we French cannot?" Jacques asked.

"You have a point brother... Why is the damned column stopping again? We will never get to the river." Alain grumbled.

Little Wolf appeared out of the woods to their right and murmured in Abenaki as he passed the brothers. "The Mohawk are in the area, there is a burned village ahead. An Abenaki village." The last was said with an angry hiss.

Death was near.




¹ An Iroquois name for the Wyandot, or Huron.
² The Mohawk name for the St. Lawrence River, I'm making the assumption that the Mohican used the same word or something similar for that body of water. I also note that the Mohawk and the Mohican were traditional enemies.

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Calm Before the Storm

Unconquered by Robert Griffing
(Source)

"The soldier fort has grown, my brother." Red Hand still wore the soldier coat he had taken last summer. That act had earned him a new name as well, growing up he had been called Lone Deer. When he and Sleeping Panther had killed the English scouts, they had taken their coats and their scalps. His tomahawk hand was still dripping with blood when he returned to the war party's temporary camp.

Bull Elk had watched him come into camp, his bloody right hand held high. The war chief had asked, "Who is this man with the red hand who comes into my camp? I remember a boy named Lone Deer, it seems he is no more, Red Hand has taken his place."

Red Hand remembered that day proudly, though many of the warriors had been cut down by the firesticks of les anglais, the tale of his deed had spread up the valley of the Great River. Now he was a war chief in his own right. His eighteenth summer was approaching, he longed to drive les anglais from the lands of the Abenaki. Perhaps this was the year!


Sergeant Josiah Adams had died in agony in late March, just as the geese were returning to the marshlands along the Cannitticutt. Even had a doctor been available, it was unlikely anyone would have known how to treat a ruptured appendix, even in England that surgery was new. Only a small handful of doctors knew of the procedure. Fewer still had performed it.

Adams had been a respected figure among his comrades in the company, fair and even-handed. The men were saddened by his death, but it wasn't an unknown thing out here on the frontier. All too many people died of disease and misadventure in the wilderness.

Corporal Edward Rutland had been performing Adams' job while that man had been laid up. Though new to the army, Rutland seemed to take to soldiering naturally. The officers thought well of him, the Sergeant Major didn't feel the need to check up on him constantly. Most of the men felt that Rutland would not be a corporal for long.

A number of men had been jealous of the attention young Molly Henderson gave to Rutland. He was circumspect about it, but the men could tell that he was rather fond of the lady himself. Fortunately for the company and for the morale in the fort, the two kept their distance and Molly tried not to play favorites with the men.


Sergeant Major Edward Jacobs nodded with satisfaction as the fatigue party completed yet another section of the palisade. The existing wall had been strengthened and a walkway built all the way around the top to replace the smaller platforms which used to top the wall.

A watch tower had also been constructed, visibility from that structure was superb. They could see much farther along the river now in both directions and to the east and west as well. Building the new walls and walkway had also cleared the timber from the outside of the fort. No one could approach the walls now within two hundred yards without being spotted.

The fort had not been completely isolated that winter. Trappers came and went, even a party of settlers had been through. They had been warned to turn back, many raids were expected in the coming months. The Abenaki were restless according to Jefferson's Mohicans, they hungered to drive the English from the Cannitticutt.

Captain Samuel Jenkins advice was ignored. Four days later Jefferson's Mohicans had discovered the bodies of the settlers. All dead, their scalps decorating an Abenaki lodge pole somewhere no doubt.

"Why don't they listen, Sarn't Major?" Jenkins had asked the man he relied on to keep them all alive.

The Sergeant Major paused for a moment, then said, "Land, Sir. A man will do desperate things to acquire and keep a small bit of land for himself and his kin."

Jenkins nodded, it struck him then that that's why the Abenaki fought so fiercely against incursions by the English. It was, after all, their land.


"Tell me my friend, will your Pennacook be happy here in a village of the Missiassik? Your people are few, but proud." Bull Elk asked his friend Grey Raven.

"Yes, we have lost many of our people, our villages taken by les anglais, yet we are still Pennacook. If our Missiassik brothers will accept us, we will live with you until our numbers grow again. Or, until we perish fighting les anglais." Grey Raven answered. He knew that the latter case was more likely. Though it saddened him, he would not make peace with the English.

"War is coming, les français have sent word. Their King fights les anglais in the land of the Europeans, he means to fight them here as well."

So it would be war, regardless of how the Abenaki felt about it.



Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Cowboys and Indians

 My good friend (whom I've never met), STxAR, posted recently about the H2 weather we've been having here in the great state of Texas. I can attest to the veracity of his description. Just finished mowing the guest house DIL is staying in for now.  According to the weather report on my phone, it's 89 out with a "Feels Like" of 92 and 51% Humidity.

I'm gonna call BS on the "Feels Like" calculation.  I know what 92 feels like, this wasn't it.  Went through 4x pint bottles of water (Yes, Beans, AKA 1/2 gallon) while mowing, and a couple more when I called it quits. (Still need to weed whack, tomorrow, earlier.)  What's my new "Feels Like" calculation method?  Temperature and humidity are additive.  So,  today's (Sunday) "Felt Like" was 140o degrees Juvat. 

On a side note, Little Juvat reported in a few days ago.  Kuwait was reporting 53 degrees C or about 128 degrees F.  Wouldn't take much humidity to push the Degrees Juvat off the scale.

But....Now that I've got that off my chest, on with our regularly scheduled post.

Way back at the end of May, Mrs J and I took a little trip to Palo Duro Canyon in North Texas.  Loved it.  Highly recommend a visit.  Since it is a very long drive from our little burg, and we had brought the dogs, we decided we'd break it up a bit. Everyone needs a bathroom break once in a while.

In addition, both Mrs J and I enjoy learning a bit about the history of things in our area.  So...the stop this time was at Fort Chadbourne. The fort (or what's left of it) is about midway between San Angelo and Abilene.  A nice Texas Ranch Road connects to the fort from US 83.  It was the Tuesday before Memorial Day when we visited, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  

I went into the main building to find out what the "Rules" were.  A very nice lady said that we could walk around the buildings with the dogs or we could have a guide give us a tour in an ATV.  A small donation got us the latter.

Our guide was definitely a "Good ol' Boy".  Most of you will understand the term.  Had spent most of his life working the ranch on which the fort is located.  He'd also participated in most of the restoration projects that had been done.

He also had a great sense of humor.

Pretty much the "Good Ol'Boy stereotype

The fort had been established in 1852 as a stopping point for the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoaches as well as housing soldiers to dissuade the Comanche's from interfering with stage operations.  

Ok, I always thought that life was pretty tough in the Cowboys and Indians Era.  But I got a much clearer picture after visiting this fort.  For instance, the above picture is an actual stagecoach from the time.  It held 9 passengers as well as the driver, his helper, and baggage.  It went from St Louis to San Francisco.  There were about 200 stations along the route and took about 540 hours one way.  A given stage coach would travel back and forth between 3 stations. Passengers would disembark and reembark on the next coach which left almost immediately, 24 hours a day for 24 days.  They were allowed two 40 minute rest breaks a day.


In order to seat all nine passengers, they sat 3 abreast with the front row facing back and the back two rows facing forward.  The front and middle rows would have to interlock their legs.  Since there was only room for 10 legs, the two outside legs literally were "outside".  With nothing to rest their feet on.  For 23 hours a day for 24 days.  

The fort's museum has a display with some comments on some of the aspects of the trip written by travelers.  One of my favorites was "Had I not just come out over the route, I would be perfectly willing to go back, but I now know what Hell is like.  I've just had 24 days of it."

Oh, and they had to pay for their meals also.

I asked how much the passengers had to pay for the privilege of riding in such luxury.  The guide said it was $200. which he said equated to about 6 grand today.  

We got around to the living area of the fort, one of the rebuilt buildings was the commander's quarters which he shared with another officer.


A bit tight, but... Oh, by the way, that's the "shower" between the bed and the table.

Next door was the remaining officer's quarters.


The "guest book" was a little rustic.  The fort was not considered a good assignment.  It could take a month or more to get mail.  Personnel transfers occurred from San Antonio, the next closest large base and could also take more than a month.  When a commander was called to San Antonio for a meeting, he generally relinquished command to a subordinate, left and then did what ever it took not to get sent back.

Consequently, maintaining discipline was not necessarily easy.

Our guide related a story of a group of soldiers that deserted.  They were unfortunate enough to get captured by Comanche's and most were killed, but a couple of them made it back to the fort with the Indians in pursuit.  They made it into the officer's quarters and, now rearmed, shot it out with the Indians.


This window was one of the soldier's positions.  Those are actual bullet marks in the wall.


Scratching your initials in the wall must have been how the "Kilroy was here" legend in WWII got started.  At this point, our guide related a tale of a tour he'd given to some people.  One of them asked who DT was.

The guide said "The President visited last month and carved his initials there."

Evidently she went on quite a rant about how that was just like him.  He started laughing and explained that they had no idea who it was.  Nevertheless, that didn't stop her rant.

Some folks!

I was impressed with how much restoration had been done and the care taken to be accurate in materials used.  Most of the stonework/brickwork was done with materials taken from the ranch where the fort is located.  Much of the fort had been in ruins when the effort started.



The restored building in the center had looked much like the building in the top right corner when restoration began.

That finished up our tour, The dogs had found it entertaining, several trees were watered and we were soon back on the road.

It also adds to our Texas Forts visited list.  Fort Martin Scott, Fort Mason and Fort McKavett were previously visited.  Our guide definitely made it the best so far!

Answering comments might be a bit spotty today.  MBD and SIL are in the packing stage of their move and have requested parental expertise in that endeavor.  So we shall be off to Sam's Town to assist.  50% chance of rain is forecast, so the Juvat family record is likely to remain intact.

Peace out, y'all!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Winter

(Source)

Short Bear watched the deer nibbling the low bush protruding from the snow. He wondered where the animal's herd was, no doubt bedded down in the deep forest, trying to stay out of the wind. It seemed odd for the animal to be out this late in the morning. Perhaps he, like Short Bear, no longer had a tribe.

Short Bear pondered that for a moment, then he loosed the arrow which brought down the deer. Short Bear trotted over to the beast, it was in the spirit world already, so there was no need to finish the kill. His arrow had flown true.

He dressed the animal and then hefted it over his shoulder. He would eat well tonight. He felt a deep sadness that he had no one to share this food with.

After his encounter with the Mohican in the late summer and the loss of the woman he knew as Ma-LEE, he had returned to his tribe. They wanted nothing to do with him. All they remembered was that when the village of the English was attacked, Short Bear took a single captive, the yellow-haired woman called Ma-LEE. He had slain no enemies and when the time had been right, he had abandoned his war party to slip away with the English woman.

He sighed, admitting to himself that the sachem had been correct, he had abandoned his people for the sake of the woman. The sachem had cast him out, "Go live with the English, you seem to like them enough. You cannot stay here."

So he had found a place in the mountains, game was plentiful enough and he found enough plant food to supplement his diet. Physically he was thriving, but emotionally, Short Bear felt dead inside. He had no people, he might as well be in the spirit world.


Captain Samuel Jenkins had taken up smoking a pipe. It was a small clay soldier's pipe which he had purchased from a sutler who had somehow made it to the fort without being molested by the Indians. The sutler had arrived in late October, just before the first snow. He had sought permission to winter at the fort, which Jenkins readily granted. The man, whose name was Oswald Patterson, had readily accepted the captain's paper assurances of payment from the New Hampshire treasury. The men had not been paid since they had left Rumford, but their credit was good.

Patterson had made a tidy profit, most of it on paper to be sure, but he knew men in the capital who would gladly purchase the promissory notes he'd received from the captain. In the spring he would return to Portsmouth.

As for the men in the company Jenkins commanded, they were starting to get bored with their existence. The winter had not been harsh so far, but they still stayed close to the fort. They had found beans, maize, and squash from two abandoned Abenaki villages, enough to supplement their diet of venison and fish from the river. But all there was to do was mount guard, drill, eat, and sleep. Some of the men had wanted to go out with the Guards lieutenant and his Indian scouts. But the lieutenant had turned them down, they didn't know enough to travel with the Indians.

Even now Lieutenant Will Jefferson was out with his Mohicans. Rather than return to New York over the mountains so late in the year, they too had decided to stay at the fort. Jenkins had half-expected trouble due to the presence of the single woman at the fort. But so far the men all treated Molly Henderson with respect. She cooked for the company and did laundry for the men. She more than pulled her own weight.


Sergeant Major Edward Jacobs climbed the ladder to the west-facing platform near the gate, Private Edward Rutland was on duty with another soldier named Jones.

"Rutland, Jones, how are you men holding up?"

"Just fine Sarn't Major." Rutland answered.

"It's all right I guess, kind of boring at times, but we've no natives to contend with at the moment, that's a blessing I guess." Jones answered.

The other two men both looked at him in astonishment. "I think that's the most I've heard you speak since you joined the regiment Billy." Rutland said.

"Warn't much to talk about 'til now Eddie." Jones grinned.


Sergeant Josiah Adams was in his bunk, he was alternating between periods of sweating and shivering, he was sure that he'd caught some sort of ague. He was miserable. He'd been excused duty by the Sergeant Major and had been on his back for three days now. He'd seen men in this state during his service in Europe, many of them died. He resolved to survive, though at times he nearly wished for death, he was in a lot of pain.

The one thought foremost in his mind though, was that he was glad they had no damned surgeon here. All those fools knew how to do was lop off arms and legs and bleed you with their damned leeches. He wondered if their efforts had ever saved anyone.

He didn't trust army medicine, such as it was.


Jefferson noted that his friend Standing Wolf showed no sign of the wound he had received that summer from an Abenaki arrow. He moved like a deer through the forest, swiftly and sure of foot. Jefferson was continually mocked by the Mohicans for his relative clumsiness.

"Blue Eyes, you move like a wounded bear through the forest. All that is missing is the bellowing and the roaring." Slow Fox chuckled as he said that.

"Ah, but he moves like a stalking panther compared to the other white soldiers." Standing Wolf laughed.

Jefferson knew enough Mohican to know the men were having a laugh at his expense, but he didn't mind. He was beginning to feel more at home with these men than he had felt in his own regiment. Now if he could only get Miss Henderson to notice him, but alas, she seemed to only have eyes for that oaf Rutland.


"Stand easy Rutland." Jenkins commanded. Private Edward Rutland had been summoned to the captain's rough quarters after coming off sentry duty.

"Sir?"

"Yes Rutland, I've been pleased with your abilities since you joined the company. You're attentive to your duties and have a keen eye. I am advancing you to corporal. I assume that is all right with you?" Jenkins smiled as he said that. The sutler had also brought a letter from his father in London. It seems that Private Edward Rutland was the bastard son of John Manners, Marquess of Granby, son of the 3rd Duke of Rutland.

Rutland had taken that name rather than the name of his father or his mother, a servant at the Duke's estate. His father had provided him with a sound education and not much else. It was he who suggested that the boy join the army. Which he did as soon as he had arrived in the New World. He sought his fortune in North America, far from the halls of privilege and wealth. He would make his own way.

"Sir, I appreciate your confidence in me, I shall endeavor to serve faithfully."


"You are going to Louisbourg? Whatever for?" Étienne Gaudry looked at his two sons and their Indian companion, Little Wolf.

"War is coming," Alain explained, "we are going to join the Compagnies franches de la marine, there is a bounty to be paid to volunteers, or so we have heard."

"Surely Little Wolf cannot join?" Alain's father pointed at.

Little Wolf, who spoke very good French by now, replied, "Father of my brothers, scouts are needed by Nouvelle-France¹ to guide the Compagnies. I know the land well. I will go with Alain and Jacques."

"I thought you would travel west with me, there is money to be made from trapping. No one ever got rich as a soldier!" Gaudry père² protested to his sons once more.

"There is more to life than riches Papa," was all Alain could say.

Étienne sighed, it seemed that his sons' trip into the wilderness had given them a taste for adventure. The folly of youth, he thought.

They will learn.

Or die in the attempt.



¹ New France, the territory held by France in the New World.
² Another way of saying "Gaudry the elder"

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.