Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Stranger in the Wilderness

Sergeant Josiah Adams had the watch. It was perhaps 30 minutes until he expected to see the eastern horizon begin to lighten. Save for the night creatures, it was very quiet.

Sergeant Major Edward Jacobs had awakened Adams shortly after midnight. Rather than awaken the captain, he had turned to the fort's ranking man, the man who had held the place together after the death of Ensign Mayberry. At least it would afford Captain Samuel Jenkins the benefit of a full night's sleep.

Which, given that there were campfires burning not half a day's march to their north, was probably a good idea. As the Sergeant Major had told Adams, "Nothing gets men killed faster than a tired officer making mistakes on the battlefield."

Adams had been watching those campfires all night, they had been kept burning steady, not like a village or encampment with nothing to worry about, with most of the fires allowed to die down, this was more like a group of men ready for war, with sentries up and watchful while some of the men slept, keeping the fires fueled as well.

As the sun inched its way up in the sky over the mountains to the east, Adams heard someone on the ladder, he looked down, it was the Sergeant Major.

"Morning Sarn't Major, feels like it is going to be a hot day today." Adams greeted the man as he climbed onto the platform.

"Aye, I'm already sweating. Has the Captain been up yet?"

"No, I reckon he's still abed." As he said that he noticed that the garrison were falling in, obviously the Sergeant Major had the men up and ready. Those campfires in the night had obviously worried him as well.

"Adams, you can wake the captain now. I'll take it from here."

"Right-o Sarn't Major." Then Adams was down the ladder and headed off to the captain's quarters.

Captain Jenkins awakened to the sound of the drummer beating assembly. He realized by the light shining through the primitive window in his quarters that the sun was up. Had he slept through the night?

"Sarn't Major!" Jenkins bellowed, not thinking that his call would be drowned out by the beating of the drum. As he dressed himself, there was a sharp rap at the door.


"Sir, Sergeant Adams, with the Sarn't Major's compliments, the company is assembled, the men are ready for action. There is also a party of what appear to be savages approaching the fort."

"Appear to be Sergeant?"

"Yessir, five men, one is carrying a flag, the King's Color, Sir."

"Odd that, Indians with a British flag..." Jenkins donned his hat, then made for the door.

"Halloo the fort! Any of you chaps awake?" Will Jefferson called out, handing the flag to Standing Wolf.

"Perhaps the soldiers are still sleeping Blue Eyes?" Standing Wolf suggested, then he noticed the activity inside the stockade. He also saw men in red coats atop the walls. Then he remembered the Englishman's odd sense of humor.

Captain Jenkins was startled to hear a very English voice calling from the group of natives. As he brought his spy glass up to his eye and focused it, he was startled once more at the sight of a white man alone with a group of Indians.

Jenkins handed the glass to Sergeant Adams, then cupped his hands and bellowed, "Halloo yourself! Identify yourself or be gone!"

His eyes opened in amazement when he heard the white man respond, "Lieutenant Will Jefferson of His Majesty's First Regiment of Foot Guards here, might we have a chat my good man?"

"A Guards officer? Out here, bloody odd Sir, bloody odd indeed." Sergeant Adams muttered.

"Yes indeed, Sergeant, mind your language now."

"Sorry Sir. It's just that we are lacking any of the social graces out here Sir, we tend to be pretty rough."

"Quite. Now muster an escort for me, four men should do."

"Will do Sir."

Jefferson was pleased to see the gate open and a party of soldiers issue forth, four men with firelocks and an officer. Jefferson wagered that the officer was the commander of this post. As they drew near, Jefferson realized that the man approaching was a captain, though the facings on his coat puzzled him.

"Sir!" Jefferson, as a lieutenant, saluted the senior man.

"Leftenant." Jenkins said as he returned the salute, "Samuel Jenkins, Captain in the New Hampshire Provincial Regiment. I command this post. May I ask, what are you doing out here? I do believe the Guards regiments are still in London, are they not?"

"Well, yes Sir, indeed they are. But I've been seconded to the forces here in the colonies. Specifically the 29th Foot. I've been out on the frontier with our Mohican allies, this man is Standing Wolf, a war chief of the Mohican."

Jenkins nodded to the tall Indian, then said to Jefferson, "Is there anything I can do for you Leftenant? We're in a bit of a state at the moment. There was a camp to the north of us, we watched their fires last night, a war party I gather, but whose, I don't know. The lads are a bit nervous."

"Ah yes, that was us. We didn't want to come here late in the day, I reckoned that might seem too threatening. So we camped last night. Most of the men are still in the camp, foraging and repairing clothing and equipment, such as it is. But you could do me one favor though."

"What might that be?"

"We rescued a white woman, one Molly Henderson, whose settlement was just north of here, destroyed by the Abenaki she says."

"Yes, quite, you wish to leave her here?"

"If it isn't too much bother?"

"Well it is leftenant, a military camp is no place for a gentlewoman. As I assume she is?"

"Yes, rather is, I should think. But she's a tough one, seems she's been across the Cannitticutt twice and traipsed all over Verd Mont¹, at least according to her tale. I tend to believe her. Trust me Captain, she shan't be a burden to you. Perhaps in the spring I can return with the Mohicans and escort her back to Rumford, or Portsmouth perhaps." Jefferson offered.

"I suppose that would be all right, however, perhaps you and your allies here, " Jenkins said nodding at the Mohicans, "might be willing to help us track down and destroy an Abenaki war party. They dogged us across the colony and I believe they are not far from here, looking to destroy this fort as they have destroyed a number of small settlements up and down the river."

Jefferson looked thoughtful for a moment, then turned and spoke with Standing Wolf. The Mohican looked for a long moment at Jenkins, then nodded his assent. His eyes seemed to glitter at the prospect of tracking down and killing the Abenaki.

"Be delighted old boy, might I have my Mohicans camp here tonight, next the fort?"

A shadow of doubt crossed Jenkins' face, then he thought, "In for a penny, in for a pound." Out loud he said, "Certainly Leftenant, that would be acceptable. After all, if we're going to be allies...?"

"Yes, yes, of course." Turning to Standing Wolf he spoke with that man again, this time Standing Wolf made no answer except to utter a single word. With that, he and the other Mohican warriors loped off back to their overnight camp.

"I don't suppose you've any tea in that fort?" Jefferson asked hopefully.

One of the privates, Edward Rutland, chimed in with, "Begging yer pardon Sir, but I believe we do have some tea in the storeroom." Expecting to be chastised for speaking without being asked, Rutland was relieved when Jenkins said, "You are proving to be quite the useful chap Rutland, thank you."

Then to Jefferson, Jenkins said, "Let us have some tea then, Leftenant. I doubt we have anything palatable to eat, but you're welcome to what we have."

Jefferson smiled and said to Jenkins, "Ever had venison? My lads brought down a lovely deer this morning."

"Can't say I've tried it, but if it's fresh..."

"Certainly is."

The party re-entered the fort, as they did, it was Jefferson who suggested closing the gate behind them. "You never know who's out there, it will be some hours before the Mohican arrive. They'll signal when they're close. But until then..."

"Better safe than sorry me old mum used to say." Sergeant Major Jacobs offered as he came up to the two officers.

"Indeed Sarn't Major, indeed." Though it was Jefferson who spoke, Jenkins nodded in agreement.

One couldn't be too careful on the frontier.

¹ From the French for "Green Mountain," the name was used by early English settlers eventually morphing into the present day "Vermont."

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.


  1. Excellent. Lt. Jefferson seems to be one of the good ones, along with Captain Jenkins and the rest of his boys. Glad that pustule of an ensign shuffled off his mortal coil.

    Interesting development of the story. And, shutting the gate, well, that's just good solid practice on the frontier. Never leave your gate open and keep a good lookout.

    1. The story is just starting to coalesce, The Muse has been busy. Fevered mind and all that.

  2. Am I really the first one to comment, at 12:07 EST? Weird echo in here...

    1. Yeah, I've been sitting here all morning wondering, "WTF?"

    2. Okay, this is getting spoooooooky.

      Mark below is the only other commenter?

      Checking ye olde interwebs outages map and there's a huge poopload of outages today.

    3. Interesting. I'd send out a scouting party but in light of tomorrow's post, I shall wait.

  3. I'm here. I have been early, then gone and back a few times. I rarely comment. Do not know why others have not, but it is not the writing which remains excellent.

    1. Thanks Mark!

      I tell myself that everyone is just too enthralled with the story to comment...

      So I've got that going for me.

  4. You have one early morning meeting that upends your traditional morning reading schedule, and suddenly the Blogosphere is aflame...

    Very good narrative about what must have been a very common occurrence at this period of time, the interaction between the regular troops and the Native Allies and what amounts to the SEALS/Special Inserted Forces of their days. Uncomfortable for both sides to some degree, I am sure. One recalls the same sort of interaction between the British General and Magawa in The Last of the Mohicans.

    "Lefetenant". In Ireland, they still refer to the King's Representative in Ireland in the 16th and 17th Century as the Lord Lefetenant. Nice use of 18th Century vernacular.

    1. Morning meetings seldom bring glad tidings!

    2. It is the ones that come late in the evening for the next day, early in the morning, that are inevitably the worst.

    3. Ah yes, the "emergency" meetings!

    4. (Don McCollor)...In 'Augustine's Laws' (of business),the first meeting of the day (called Sunrise Services) was to schedule all the other meetings...

  5. Regarding comments today (Tuesday)

    A major Internet content provider, Fastly, had a major outage Tuesday morning. This affected a large number of major organizations (BBC, CNN, etc). https://www.cnet.com/news/fastly-outage-how-and-why-it-just-broke-amazon-reddit-paypal-twitch-and-much-of-the-internet/

    Unknown if that was the cause of a lack of comments, but I believe it was :). It is at least a good excuse.

    Enjoying the new story arc! Already we have lots of players, many factions, and possibilities galore.

    I would not have liked to be a European soldier thrust into an almost completely foreign environment (at least WRT the native peoples).

  6. Late, but here, nevertheless. It's a good read, and I look forward to every episode! Some days just get awful busy in the summer, and it isn't until after dark that I get to sit down to stories. Strawberries have been picked, chamomile flowers harvested, much of the garden weeded, and everything watered. Washed vehicles in the early first light, while it was still cool (relatively) and the rest of the day was just a long slow slog. 93 degrees and humid makes for slow going and lots of water drinking!

    1. There were also a lot of Internet shenanigans going on yesterday. Logged onto Steam to play a game last night, couldn't log on, their servers were down.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.