-1Authors's note: Fanfic on Redcoat. I'm very proud of this work. The reason it's so good is probably because I'm channeling Bernard Cornwell. It was a book report project, but I thought you might enjoy it. I may continue on, as this just begs to know what happens next, but no promises.
Sam shifted his weight. Beside him Lieutenant Mallick's horse jingled its harness and stamped impatiently. The morning was wet and thick fog enclosed the company. Sam did not like fighting in fog. It caused confusion which could become a panicked retreat for one poor side, or frantic slaughter on all sides. Men, separated from their officers, panicked, imagining things in the all engulfing fog. The enemy became demons from hell, emerging from the mist, sounds tortured the men with demons they could not see. Imagination gave way to madness, and men killed in a terrified fight to stay alive and make some sense in the shrouding, cloaking fog.
Private Sam Gilpin, formerly a soldier in His Majesty's army, had only recently joined the ranks of the patriot army. He found he liked fighting for General Washington, fighting for a cause, fighting for the memory of his dead brother, for Jonathan, and for Caroline. He softened as he thought of his beloved Caroline. She would be home now in the small house that the Martha Crowl had bought for them to live in once they were free of Philadelphia, and once Sam was free of the red-coated British army. Sam reached into the brown coat he now wore and fingered the small piece of golden hair that he carried with him always. Down the line a young boy, not much more than twelve, vomited. He was pale and nervous, but was being as brave as he could. His poor mother must be praying for him now, in the early dawn of a killing day. Sam wanted to comfort the boy, but the line had strict orders to remain silent. Because of the need to achieve surprise, the flints had been removed from all of the men's muskets. A flintless musket could not fire, but it also could not misfire when a nervous soldier slipped in the wet grass, or shoot at ghosts in the fog.
The line stood now, bayonets fixed, awaiting orders. Lieutenant Mallick seemed in good spirits. He looked as though he'd be whistling if he could do it silently and not wake the sleeping redcoats. Sam turned his head a little to the side to listen. Horses hooves, soft and steady, were approaching the line. Suddenly, General Washington emerged from the mist. He spoke with Captain Tuttle and Lieutenant Mallick in whispers. Sam watched the man. He remembered the first time he had ever seen "Mister Washington". The patriot general was not at all as he had expected him. He had a determined and strong presence, and when he spoke he made you want to fight and die for him. The men were all fond of him, his officers never complained, and Sam found that he liked the General very much.
Sam reached out to pet the Lieutenant's horse, Paolo. Sam had worked with horses since his youth in the English countryside, and had a remarkable talent with the creatures. If he had stayed home and not run off into the British army, he might have been the head of the Squire's stables, a fine position for a poor county lad. His mother would have been so proud. Sam thought about the letter he had written to his mother explaining his brother's death and his desertion from the British army. He wondered if his mother would be proud of him now.
Sam became aware of three pairs of eyes focused upon him. The three officers were looking at him critically.
"Private Gilpin." The Lieutenant whispered. "General Washington's servant is ill today. He needs a replacement." Sam, who had been a servant to one of Sir William's aides when he was a redcoat, was honored.
"You have some experience with horses, private?" The general spoke kindly.
"Yes sir." Sam was not sure what to say.
"Can you cook?"
Sam smiled inwardly because Captain Vane had once asked him the very same question.
The General nodded curtly. "You'll do."
So Sam left the ranks of brown-coated men standing in the fog, and walked alongside General Washington's horse. "This is Hermes." The General indicated his horse. Sam gently stroked the horse's flank. "He's a beauty, sir."
"Have horses like this where you come from?"
"Yes sir." Sam thought of the rich green countryside he had left behind.
"And where's that, Gilpin?"
"England, sir. I'm a deserter." Sam was still ashamed sometimes to think of it. He tried to convince himself that he hadn't deserted, he hadn't run--he'd merely changed sides.
"Decided that fighting the lobsters is better than fighting with them?" He chuckled.
"I'm fighting with the right men now, sir."
"And so you are Gilpin, so you are. We're fighting for something much grander than a king. We're fighting for an ideal. A country of our own. Liberty, Gilpin, liberty. And that's something worth fighting for."
"Indeed, sir." Sam had heard the same speech several times. He had begun to believe it.
Sam and the general picked on in silence in the consuming fog. Something rustled in the trees to his right. Before he could warn the general, the wicked bayonets of the enemy emerged from the fog, and behind them, bright red coats.