Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Calm Before the Storm

Unconquered by Robert Griffing

"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.


  1. No good will come of this, mark my words.

  2. Calm before the storm. There's always been conflict 'tween tribes of men down through the years, always will be.

  3. Being originally from upstate Pennsylvania, my sympathies are with the Mohawks, not the evil Huron.

    1. With a distant ancestor from the Six Nations, I concur.

  4. "Land sir. A man will do desperate things to acquire and keep a small bit of land for himself and his kin". Still true today in a lot of ways.

    What town does this fort become?

    1. The fort itself is fictitious. The city of Claremont (New Hampshire) will arise nearby. but not until 1762.

    2. I just looked at the dates for the French and Indian war (1754-1763) and Claremont NH (https://goo.gl/maps/Eph17M5Ssm1gwmNa7).
      It is a help in visualizing all of this...

    3. I probably should include more maps.

    4. I hardly ever went and pulled a map on your WW2 story, this is the second time I've done it on this series already. It's like I "should" know where they places are... the first time was to see where the Connecticut river was and this time to see where the town of Claremont is.
      Now I just generally tell myself "it's in New England"... then again I'm a west coast/ Pacific ocean guy and that makes "New England" close enough!

    5. It's a time period most folks aren't familiar with, so you're not alone.

    6. Rob, I am also not from the East and so "New England" is sort of this amorphous geographic blob that encompasses two, seven or nine states depending on the day...

    7. TB - Six states, only six. However, if one refers to the Northeast, then it's nine (or so). One list I've seen has the Northeastern states being Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. I have never included Maryland or Delaware on that list. But that's just me.

    8. Rob - Oh you Westerners! (Which to me is anything west of Pennsylvania.)

    9. To me the west & east divide at the Mississippi river but I was really impressed on my last trip with the sign at the 100th meridian in Oklahoma on I-40, it was the "dividing line" between the dry west and the wet east.

      I was on I-40 because I wanted to stop at the Big Texas Steak Ranch in Amarillo, great steak and I got to watch a guy eat the "free" 72oz steak and all the sides!

    10. The Mississippi is a good dividing line, but I'm old school I guess. (1700s old school!)

  5. Dying from a burst appendix...that's gotta rank pretty high on the "worst ways to go" list!

    Good thinking, putting those bored soldiers to work shoring up the ramparts, and clearing fields of fire. Idle hands and minds are the devil's playground, they say.

    "Why don't they listen..." Yes, part of the answer is desperation to get a bit of land, but ignorance and arrogance are often large contributing factors, as well. Folks often do not want to hear what goes contrary to what they desire, or think they deserve. People can be incredibly stupid that way.

    More maps certainly wouldn't hurt, especially for when it comes time for putting the book in print. Readers not familiar with the area, and the history will become much more engaged in the tale if they can visualize the environment better.

    1. Hearing only what you want to hear, that's been happening for a long time!

      More maps, definitely need more maps.

  6. I agree with so many up above, especially the appendix. What was worse, dying of the ruptured appendix or the surgery by some cack-handled fool of a drunk doctor on the frontier? Sucks either way. Best to separate the dying from the healthy and let them die in agony where they can't affect the living too much.

    And a crappy way of getting promoted, but that's the very English way. "To Bloody Wars and Sickly Seasons" was the old toast of junior officers until the more modern 'doesn't (supposedly) matter who you're connected to' system took over.

    Always build your fortifications and clear your line of fire. Leaving the stubs of rootballs as tripping hazards isn't a bad idea either.

    Poor Molly, she's a ship without a port in a lot of respects. Too 'uncivilized' to enjoy town or city life, but being the sole female in a fort of men is also potentially troubling. On the other hand, she has the ability to be a beacon of civilization herself at the fort.

    Good job on painting the background of the coming play.

    And it's not 'War is coming...' but more 'the fighting with whomever will recommence.' Sadly.

    1. The background is important, especially as this is unfamiliar ground for a lot of folks.

  7. "War to the knife, and knife to the hilt"
    Boat Guy

  8. This may have already been discussed in an earlier post, but have you watched Outlander? Season 4 seems somewhat aligned to what you're writing here, although it's the Mohawk and Cherokee vice Abenaki and Mohican.


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