A Noble Train of Artillery: The Knox Expedition

“We shall cut no small figure in going through the Country with our Cannon, Mortars, etc., drawn by eighty yoke of oxen”   ~~Henry Knox in a letter to his wife, December 1775

General George Washington arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 2, 1775. He had been led to believe by the Continental Congress that he would find 20,000 battle-tested provincial soldiers. What he found was not a proper army. In his opinion, it was a mob of dirty and nasty “puritanical savages”. Further, on his arrival, he was assured that the army had 308 barrels of gunpowder. It was actually only 90 barrels. A lack of heavy weaponry, made offensive operations virtually impossible.

What was Washington, who  was intent on ending the Siege of Boston in one decisive stroke, to do?

Enter a twenty-five-year-old former book seller with militia and battle experience, an interest in artillery, and a talent for building fortifications: Henry Knox.

HenryKnox
Henry Knox

Henry impressed Washington with his energy, ingenuity, determination, and knowledge. Which man brought up the cache of artillery at Ft. Ticonderoga in upstate New York is unknown, but Henry volunteered to travel the 300 miles to Ticonderoga and bring the artillery back to Cambridge.

Washington issued the order, backed Knox financially, and wrote to General Philip Schuyler asking him to assist Knox in the endeavor.

Leaving on horseback and accompanied by his nineteen-year-old brother, William, and an expeditionary force, Knox reached Ticonderoga on December 5, 1775. The plan was to transport over 60 tons of artillery by scows from the northern tip of Lake George thirty-two miles to Ft. George on the southern tip of the lake.

Henry had prayed for warm weather, and until that point, the weather had remained mild, but the wind picked up and forced Knox’s freezing men to row into an icy gale. One of the scows fetched up on a rock and filled with water. As long as the scows gunnels remained above the water line, the boat could be floated. With heroic effort, they finally succeeded in getting all the cannon to the southern end of the lake just as it began to freeze over.

Knox Route from Ft Ticonderago to Boston-8x6

On December 17, Henry wrote to Washington, “I have had made forty two exceedingly strong sleds & have provided eighty yoke of oxen to drag them as far as Springfield where I shall get fresh cattle to carry them to camp. . . . I hope in 16 or 17 days to be able to present your Excellency a noble train of artillery.”

Henry began earnest negotiations with local Stillwater (Albany-area) native George Palmer for the expected oxen and sleds. Per Henry’s journal, Palmer walked off in a huff after General Schuyler complained he was charging too much for his services. Thus, Knox relented to using mostly horses to pull the laden sleds.

220px-Schuyler
General Philip Schuyler

While William Knox remained at Ft. George to procure the needed sleds, Henry went ahead to the Hudson River, where he and his men took steps to strengthen the river ice in anticipation of the artillery’s arrival and crossing.

Once the horses and sleds (and some head of oxen) were secured, the Noble Train of Artillery left Ft. George and moved along a difficult and exceedingly slow route following the Hudson River, with the crews forced to cross the frozen Hudson four times before reaching Albany.  On January 5, from Albany, Henry wrote Washington: “The want of snow detained us some days, and now a cruel thaw hinders [us] from crossing [the] Hudson River, which we are obliged to do four times from Ft. George to this town.”  

When the train was able to move on, Henry was forced to break up his caravan into smaller groups of sleds due to logistics. On crossing the Hudson east to Massachusetts, cannon broke through the ice and crashed into the water. With the help of locals, they recovered the cannon. On January 9, the last of the cannons had crossed the Hudson.

Crossing and recrossing the Hudson had proved difficult, but the hills and mountains of western and central Massachusetts were just as challenging. On the down slopes, the huge heavy sleds threatened to run ahead of the teams that were pulling them. They were plagued by lack of snow. Another “cruel” thaw left them stranded in Westfield.

In Westfield, Henry entertained the locals, many who had never seen cannon, by firing a mortar that became known as “Old Sow”. It was here that Henry learned that John Adams and George Washington had named him to succeed the ailing Richard Gridley as colonel of the Regiment of Artillery. (Gridley’s artillery regiments had been an embarrassment at Bunker Hill.)

In the last week of January, 1776, the first of the noble train arrived in Framingham, Massachusetts. Henry Knox was back in Cambridge by January 25.

Knox’s journey provided the Continental Army with a windfall of artillery that ultimately led General William Howe to evacuate his British troops from Boston, taking thousands of loyalists civilians with them, and effectively ending the Siege of Boston without a single shot fired on either side.

Colonel Henry Knox was eventually promoted to major general and remained loyal to Washington throughout the war.

The grit and determination it took to complete the expedition is truly amazing, admirable, and inspiring. Men (and women) like them, who believed they could do anything if they put their minds, hearts, and bodies to the task, gave us the freedom to think for ourselves and express those thoughts without fear of our personal liberties being taken away.

The Henry Knox Noble Train re-enactment begins at Fort Ticonderoga on December 9, 2017 in Ticonderoga, New York.

The-Noble-Train-Begins-01-850x567

Resources:

 

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Bunker Hill A City, A Siege, A Revolution. 2013: Penguin Books, New York, NY.

http://www.derekbeck.com/1775/info/noble-train-2/

http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=29

Portrait of Major General Philip Schuyler from the John Trumbull miniature by Jacob H. Lazarus (1822-91) in 1881. The painting is on display at the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Albany.

Painting of General Henry Knox by Charles Willson Peale, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Why I Write Historical Fantasy

A few weeks ago I had an epiphany about why I write historical fantasy.

Historical fantasy is a messy business. Those who lean more toward the historical aspect tend to complain if the story suddenly leans closer to the fantasy aspect, and vice versa.

I don’t watch much TV, Netflix, etc. What I do watch is always in danger of developing into an obsession, to the point that, I become a fanatic (which used to be reserved ONLY for my NFL team, the Oakland Raiders). Somewhere along the line I become “overly involved”.  I think it’s because I started writing historical fantasy in 2005 without realizing the genre I was headed for.

The first sign of my mania manifested itself in 2010 with my discovery of the TV series Supernatural, which was already in its fifth season. Yes, Sam and Dean Winchester are hot brothers, but more importantly, I like the characters.

I stopped watching The Walking Dead in season 3 because I couldn’t stand some of the characters. Several years later, I learned of Negan’s first appearance in the season six finale.  The actor who portrays Negan is Jeffery Dean Morgan. He portrayed John Winchester, the Winchester boys’ father in the first season of Supernatural (2005). Now, suddenly, the world knew who Jeffery Dean Morgan was, while the cultist fans of Supernatural remembered him as the ruggedly handsome, John Winchester! I had people ask me if I watched The Walking Dead, and my thoughts on Jeffery Dean Morgan. My response: “You’re eleven years late.”

Supernatural is renewed for season 13, which will premier in October 2017.

So what does this have to do with my epiphany? This year I lost two of my favorite TV shows.

After 8 seasons, I lost The Vampire Diaries. The series finale aired March 10, 2017. I own every season of this YA type show on DVD, and I’ve watched those collective seasons more than once. I loved the characters, and the show brimmed with vampires, werewolves, witches, hybrids, and doppelgangers.  But there was one other important aspect about this show that I loved. It flashed back often to the mid-1800’s, which was when the Salvatore brothers became vampires. And there were numerous flash backs to the 10th century, when the original vampires were spawned.

Historical Fantasy? Yes!

On Saturday, August 12, 2017, after 4 years, I lost another adored TV series, the historical drama, TURN: Washington Spies. The series was based on the non-fiction book by Alexander Rose, “Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring”. Of course, this is referring to the Culper spy ring that was formed in 1778. The producers of TURN (Alexander Rose was among them) and the actors excelled in authenticity, thus, the inaccuracies sometimes necessary to tell a smooth tale, were largely forgiven by the show’s  dedicated audience.

As an aside, the female portion of TURN’s audience found the actor who portrayed Major Ben Tallmadge, Seth Numrich, too hot to handle in his Continental Army uniform of the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons.  turn-S4-cast-ben-numrich-700x1000

Historical Fantasy? Yes!

The final episode of the series induced a sobbing goodbye among the fans. The cast of the show immediately reached out to their grieving fans. It led us to participate in many Tweets and Facebook groups that discuss all things TURN and the Revolutionary War.

TURN’s finale was more than my heart could handle. I’ve spent the past year dedicated to understanding the philosophies (British and American) that led to the American Revolution, the people who played a part, and the military aspect of the first six months of the war, as I wrote the first book in my novel series Angels & Patriots, due to release Fall 2017.

I ordered the first three seasons of TURN: Washington Spies on DVD so I can watch it obsessively and stay in the mood of the time period while I’m writing Angels & Patriots book two.

One last thing about the conclusion of TURN; this beautiful observation was made by General George Washington:

 “Our country owes its life to the heroes whose names it will never know.”

10 Favorite Sons of Liberty

ThomasYoung
Dr. Thomas Young

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#10. Family physician of John Adams. He was an active organizer of the Boston Tea Party and participated in the Continental Congress.

IsaiahThomas
Isaiah Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#9. Printed a radical rebel newspaper in Boston, the Massachusetts Spy and founded The American Antiquarian Society.

BenjaminEdes
Benjamin Edes No Known Likeness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8. Edes published the antagonist Boston Gazette, a newspaper which financed the Boston Tea Party and printed anti-British propaganda.

benjamin church
Dr. Benjamin Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7. Became a spy for General Thomas Gage, first Surgeon General of the Continental Army, character in the video game Assassin’s Creed III.

benedict arnold
Benedict Arnold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6. Arnold, along with Ethan Allen and his boys, won control of Ft. Ticonderoga for its aging artillery. Gave $500 to Joseph Warren’s orphans.

William Dawes
William Dawes

#5. April 18, 1775, Joseph Warren dispatched Dawes to Lexington to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams, & the militias, of British movement.

220px-J_S_Copley_-_Paul_Revere
Paul Revere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4. April 18, 1775, Joseph Warren dispatched Revere to Lexington to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams, & the militias, of British movement.

john hancock
John Hancock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3. Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause. Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, and Hancock were the ultimate triumvirate for liberty.

 

samadams
Samuel Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2. “Father of the American Revolution” because of his early stand against the tyranny of Great Britain. Failed in business and monetary matters.

warren3_medium
Dr. Joseph Warren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1. Handsome idolized leader of the rebellion April – June 1775, Major General, killed at Bunker Hill at age 34, America’s first martyr.

If you’re looking for a little end of the summer reading, visit my website Salina B Baker to download free books. Thank you! Happy Reading!

 

 

This is Dedicated to Major John Pitcairn

Many of you are aware of my excessive interest in the patriot leader and Son of Liberty, Joseph Warren. In fact, the first novel in my series, Angels & Patriots, is dedicated to Dr. Joseph Warren and another man, who was not an American patriot—Major John Pitcairn.

I’m not sure at what point (or why) in my research, these men peaked my interest. Perhaps, it was because both men have largely been forgotten, yet they each played a vital role in the infancy of the Revolutionary War. I read and studied them until I felt I could make an attempt to write about them from their point of view, I perceived them as having some of the same characteristics— integrity, honesty, charm, and heroism.

Both Warren and Pitcairn were mortally wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill, on June 17, 1775. Their deaths were recorded in a 1786 painting by John Trumbull – The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775. This version shows the location of Warren and Pitcairn in the historically inaccurate painting.

john-trumbull-battle-of-bunker-hill

There is more information on Dr. Joseph Warren, (who died at 34) than on Major John Pitcairn (who died at 52). A biography about Warren’s life was published in 2012.

I found no dedicated writings about Pitcairn aside from resources on the internet, and a video game, Assassin’s Creed III (2012), in which Pitcairn is ultimately assassinated. Pitcairn was cast as an antagonist in the TV mini-series Sons of Liberty (2015). I wondered why he was singled out as a “bad-guy” when history describes Pitcairn as having a sense of honor and the respect of both the Loyalists and the Patriots of Boston.

After reading accounts of Pitcairn’s life, I tried to picture him as a man, not just a bunch of statistics, dates, and speculation. Ironically, there are no known likenesses of him.

John Pitcairn was baptized at St. Serf’s, Dysart, a port town in Fife, Scotland, on December 28, 1722 (Old Calendar – 1723). His date of birth is not recorded separately, so it may have been the same day.

In his early 20s, John married Elizabeth Dalrymple. Their first child, Annie, was born in Edinburgh in 1746, the year John was commissioned a Lieutenant in Cornwall’s 7th (Marines) Regiment. The couple went on to have six sons and four daughters.

The Marines were disbanded for a time and reformed on a permanent basis in 1755. John retained his lieutenancy. In the Marines, commissions were not purchased. John didn’t reach the rank of Major in the Chatham Division until 1771, at age 48. His son, William, followed him into the Marines.

In December 1774, as unrest spread in the Colony of Massachusetts, he arrived in Boston with some 600 Marines drawn from three divisions: Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. The Plymouth Marines were not properly trained, had unfit officers, had no proper weather clothing or equipment, and were undisciplined. Some of the men sold their equipment to buy rum.

Here, I saw John as a humanitarian with a sense of duty and responsibility for his marines. Not as a naive task master, but as a sensible mature man who understood that respect far out lasted threats and punishments. He found it hard to apply harsh discipline. By example and patience, he managed to drill them into shape. He lived in the barracks with his men to keep them sober and succeeded in gaining their respect.

On the night of April 18, 1775, General Thomas Gage ordered a handpicked assembly of 800 troops to gather on the shores of Back Bay, in Boston. Their clandestine mission was to capture rebel weapons hidden in Concord. Gage assigned Colonel Francis Smith as officer in charge, with Major Pitcairn as Smith’s second.

Pitcairn was in charge of the companies in the vanguard of Smith’s column of British regulars. These men weren’t Pitcairn’s marines; therefore, he was unfamiliar with them and their skills. When his vanguard marched into Lexington, led by Lieutenant Jessie Adair, they accidentally veered down the wrong road and marched toward Captain John Parker’s line of militiamen. Pitcairn was genuinely horrified. I tried to imagine his sense of urgency as he galloped across Lexington Green shouting for his companies in the van to halt and hold their fire.

Still, a shot rang out, and eventually eight provincials lay dead.

After the bloodshed later that day in Concord, the exhausted and frightened British troops retreated from Concord to Boston under constant rebel fire. Pitcairn tried to maintain order among the ragged ranks even after his horse was shot, forcing him to walk.

Two months later, on June 17, 1775, John Pitcairn and his marines were ordered to stand ready as reinforcements for British General William Howe’s regulars as they attempted to march on a little rebel redoubt hastily constructed on the wrong hill on the Charlestown peninsula.

I imagined Major Pitcairn and his marines as they rushed the redoubt; Pitcairn waving his bayonet at the rebels and yelling, “Now, for the glory of the Marines!” I wondered what John’s son, William, saw and thought when a rebel in the redoubt aimed his musket at his father.

Did John Pitcairn see the man who was about to mortally wound him? What were his thoughts when he realized he had been shot in the chest? I’ve read that he knew the shot was fatal, but there had to be more rushing through his mind. Legend says he fell into his son’s arms, and was bleeding so badly that William was covered in his blood.

History paints John Pitcairn as a brave sensible man even as he faced his own death. He was taken by boat back to Boston, and put to bed in a house on Prince Street. General Gage sent a loyalist town physician, Dr. Thomas Kast, to tend to Pitcairn.

John insisted that he get his affairs in order before allowing the doctor to examine him. Hours later, Dr. Kast pulled John’s waistcoat away from his wounded chest. John hemorrhaged to death. His son cried out to the marines, “I have lost my father!”

John was buried in the crypt of Christ Church, the Old North Church, in Boston. The fatal bullet and his uniform buttons were returned to his wife and children.

JohnPlaqueMajor John Pitcairn
Fatally wounded
while rallying the Royal Marines
at the Battle of Bunker Hill
was carried from the field to the boats
on the back of his son
who kissed him and returned to duty
He died June 17, 1775 and his body
was interred beneath this church

John’s birthplace, the old manse of Dysart, was demolished over a century ago. The marble plaque John erected to his parents’ memory in 1757-8 in St. Serf’s was destroyed by vandals in the early nineteenth century, after the kirk fell into ruin. As a result, until recently there was nothing to commemorate John in his hometown.

DysartPlaque

In October, my husband and I are taking a return trip to Boston. We shall pay our respects to Major John Pitcairn.

Resources

  1. http://www.silverwhistle.co.uk/lobsters/pitcairn.html
  2. http://colonialamericans.weebly.com/major-john-pitcairn.html
  3. http://drbenjaminchurchjr.blogspot.com/2011/12/major-john-pitcairn.html
  4. Painting of “The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill” by John Trumbull the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
  5. Borneman, Walter R. American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to RevolutionNew York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. Print.
  6. Hand-colored engraving described as “The shooting of Major
    Pitcairn (who had shed the first blood at Lexington) by the
    colored soldier Salem.” Courtesy of J. L. Bell

 

 

 

John Adams’ and Joseph Warren’s Last Correspondence

John Adams in a letter to John Winthrop following the Battle of Bunker Hill:

 Alass poor Warren! …. For God Sake my Friend let us be upon our Guard, against too much Admiration of our greatest Friends. President of the Congress, Chairman of the Committee of Safety, Major General ….. was too much for Mortal, and This Accumulation of Admiration upon one Gentleman, which among the Hebrews was called Idolatry….”

 As I turn my attention to Angels & Patriots: Book Two, I’m allowing one more look at the object of my affection, Dr. Joseph Warren. (Of course, I have yet to write about the discovery of his body, his funeral, and his orphaned children.)

I ran a Facebook post for several months as a forum to gather topics of interest and resources from others who are interested in the Revolutionary War. I had so many good suggestions from knowledgeable people!

 Of course, John Adams was a huge topic of interest. In Angels & Patriots: Book One, John and Abigail Adams are important, but secondary characters. That will change in Book Two. Therefore, as I did for Joseph Warren, I’ll read and study the Adams at length.

 I began with the resources I already had and I stumbled across the last letter Joseph Warren wrote to John Adams.  

 To John Adams from Joseph Warren, 20 May 1775

Cambridge May. 20th. 1775

Dear Sir

Having wrote fully upon several Subjects to Mr. Hancock and Mr. Adams, upon several Matters which they will communicate to you,1 I can only add here that I Yesterday heard from your Family at Braintree were all in Health. A person having brought me a Letter from your Lady to me recommending one of your Brothers to be a Major in one of the Regiments, I am sorry the Letter did not arrive sooner, but I shall do all in my Power to obtain such a place for him yet, as he is the Brother of my Friend, and I hear is a worthy Man.2 I am Dear Sir most sincerely, Your Friend & Humble Servt.   

Joseph Warren

In discovering Joseph Warren’s last letter to John Adams, I also found the following letter. It moved me greatly when I realized that John, at the writing of his letter, didn’t know Joseph’s mutilated body had been lying on Breed’s Hill for four days, in a shallow grave with a farmer. I felt genuine sorrow for John Adams.

John entrusted George Washington to deliver the letter to Joseph. Washington delivered the letter to the man who was elected to fill Joseph’s shoes as the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, James Warren (no relation to Joseph Warren).     

When he received the letter, James Warren read the letter aloud to the congressional members.

From John Adams to Joseph Warren, 21 June 1775

 Phyladelphia June 21. 1775

Dr Sir

This Letter I presume will be delivered into your own Hand by the General. He proposes to set out, tomorrow, for your Camp. God Speed him. Lee is, Second Major General, Schuyler, who is to command at N. York is the third and Putnam the fourth. How many Brigadiers general we shall have, whether five, Seven or Eight, is not determined, nor who they shall be. One from N. Hampshire, one from R. Island, two from Connecticutt, one from N. York, and three from Massachusetts, perhaps.1

I am almost impatient to be at Cambridge. We shall maintain a good Army for you. I expect to hear of Grumbletonians, some from parcimonious and others from Superstitious Prejudices. But We do the best we can, and leave the Event.

How do you like your Government? Does it make or remove Difficulties? I wish We were nearer to you.

The Tories lie very low both here and at New York. The latter will very soon be as deep as any Colony.

We have Major Skeene a Prisoner, enlarged a little on his Parol—a very great Tool.2 I hope Govr Tryon, will be taken care of.3 But We find a great many Bundles of weak Nerves. We are obliged to be as delicate and soft and modest and humble as possible. Pray Stir up every Man, who has a Quill to write me. We want to know the Number of your Army—A List of your officers—a State of your Government—the Distresses of Boston—the Condition of the Enemy &c. I am, Dr sir your Friend, 

John Adams

 We have all recommended Billy Tudor for a secretary to the General. Will he make a good one? This moment informed of Powder arrived here, 500 Blls they say. We must send it along to you.

And so begins my journey with John Adams … 

Resources

Forman, Samuel A.  Dr. Joseph Warren, The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty.  2012:  Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, Louisiana.

“To John Adams from Joseph Warren, 20 May 1775,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/06-03-02-0006. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Papers of John Adams, vol. 3, May 1775 – January 1776, ed. Robert J. Taylor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979, p. 10.]

“From John Adams to Joseph Warren, 21 June 1775,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/06-03-02-0027. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Papers of John Adams, vol. 3, May 1775 – January 1776, ed. Robert J. Taylor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979, pp. 44–45.]

 

Angels & Patriots: Book One To Be Released Fall 2017!

At last! ANGELS & PATRIOTS: BOOK ONE, the first in a series, is scheduled to release this fall! Angels & Patriots: A Novella was published in February and will continue to be offered as a free download through my website.

Thanks to everyone who has reached out on my Facebook posts and offered their interest(s) on the subject of the American Revolution, and the almost inexhaustible stories of real life heroism and failures. I have listened and will continue to do so.

So, enjoy the book description and excerpt from ANGELS & PATRIOTS: BOOK ONE and Happy July 4th!

On the eve of the Revolutionary War, American patriots are leaving their homes and families behind to stand firm against the British. What these early Americans do not realize, is that while they prepare themselves for their battles, a war is simultaneously playing out among the soldiers—one that poses a far greater threat to their lives and souls.

 Demons that God created to kill a brotherhood of fallen angels are fanning the embers of the Revolutionary War to draw the angels out of hiding. They walk and fight alongside patriots and British soldiers alike. 

 Archangel, Colm Bohannon, leads his angel brothers to Boston to track down the demon leader and to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Dr. Joseph Warren, and the Sons of Liberty that the British army is not their only threat. The patriots will need to engage with two enemy forces on the battlefield. As it stands, the band of angels is road weary and struggling with infighting and earthly temptations. Is faith a strong enough shield to fight off demon attacks and protect the patriots? Are the patriots capable of standing and fighting alongside angels?

EXCERPT

Chapter One

Wexford, Ireland May 1169

Get below decks!” Colm Bohannon shouted.

His younger brother, Michael, ignored the order and stubbornly exchanged fire with the Norman soldiers, who stood on the docks and shot flaming arrows at the men aboard the cog LE’ Eithne. With Michael open to enemy fire, the other six men under Colm’s command hesitated to take the order.

Under a waning crescent moon, the Norman lord, Robert Fitzstephen, watched and listened to the Irish die in the water and on board the cogs in the harbor. Fitzstephen’s army cut down the Irish soldiers who’d stormed the docks to defend their town and their comrades.

Colm knew his brother was destined to die in an act of defiance. An arrow pierced Michael’s left shoulder and knocked him backward. He refused to give in to the pain, and reloaded his bow. A flaming arrow struck him in the heart. His shirt and curly black hair caught fire. He collapsed and hit the cog’s railing, causing his spine to snap with a dull crack. His limp body fell overboard and splashed into the dark water.

“MICHAEL!” Patrick Cullen was frantic. He ran to the cog railing and looked into the water. “MICHAEL!”

Brandon O’Flynn ran to the railing beside Patrick and looked over. Horror stained his blue eyes as they searched for Michael’s body in the water.

Colm had tried to reach his brother in time, but failed. Enraged, he knew he couldn’t let Michael’s death render him unable to protect his other men. He jerked Brandon and Patrick away from the railing, “Get below decks, now!”

Seamus Cullen hooked an arm around Patrick’s neck and shouted over the din of screaming men and burning cogs. “Obey Colm’s order!”

Patrick struggled with his older brother. “Stop it, Seamus!”

“Everyone but Liam’s out of ammunition!” Seamus shouted.

“THEY KILLED MICHAEL!” Patrick screamed. He tried to twist his head out of the crook of Seamus’ elbow.

Ian Keogh pinned down Patrick’s flailing arms and helped Seamus drag Patrick out of harm’s way.

Liam Kavangh returned arrow fire and covered Brandon O’Flynn and Fergus Driscoll until they could get below decks. A Norman arrow pierced Liam’s right eye and embedded in his brain. He dropped dead on the deck.

Fergus Driscoll, Colm’s second in command, returned topside with a handful of javelins. He and Colm made their last stand with the cog’s only remaining weapons. There was a loud whoosh when the timbers of the LE’ Eithne caught fire. In less than a minute, the burning cog was at the bottom of the harbor. Colm Bohannon and his men were sucked into the water’s nether world.    

An ethereal rain of silver crystals spiraled down from the starry night sky and gathered on the streets of Wexford and drifted against buildings. They wet the Irish and Norman soldiers’ hair and clothing. They soaked the docks and splashed into the black waters to extinguish the flames.

The blood-rinsed waters of the harbor brightened with silver light. Green, purple, yellow, red, and blue flashed within the light.

The soldiers on both sides of the conflict feared they were witnessing the rapture. Some fled the docks in terror. Others dropped to their knees in reverence.

The lights went out. Gossamer draped reapers arrived to escort the souls of the dead to their final destination. With their souls gone, the bodies of Colm Bohannon and his men became vessels for the spirits of eight angels, who were trying to slow the relentless pursuit of demons God had created to kill them for their disobedience.

They had been running from the demons since the time of the Flood of Noah. Some of the angels had created what God had forbidden—the Nephilim—children of human women. Three angels copulated. Five angels tried to stop them. In God’s court, they were all found guilty and were banished from Heaven.

The angels’ commanding archangel was desperate to protect his tiring brotherhood. He hoped taking vessels belonging to the children of man would confuse the demons and slow their pursuit. It did for 145 years.

By 1314, the demons’ leader realized what the angels had done. He and his army of demonic spirits went to Scotland to the scene of the Battle of Bannockburn where the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, clashed with the English king, Edward II.

There were many human vessels to be had as the soldiers died on the battlefield and the reapers ferried their souls to their final destinations. The demon leader possessed the body of an English knight, Sir Henry de Bohun, a man Robert the Bruce killed in the battle. Wearing their new vessels, Henry and his army continued their ruthless pursuit.

By 1575, the archangel saw that his angels’ were tiring again, but now, they were killing demon-possessed living humans in their desperate attempt to survive. The angels left Ireland for England, in hopes of escaping Great Britain. On April 27, 1584, the archangel, who was now known by his human name, Colm Bohannon, and his angels left England on a ship bound for North America.

It would take Henry two hundred years to find them.

Chapter Two

December 1774

Burkes Garden, Virginia

Jeremiah Killam relaxed his aim and lowered his musket when he realized it was Colm Bohannon emerging from the dense white oak and hickory forest. Flung over Colm’s left shoulder was a doe carcass; its head flopped with each step and left bloody smears on his bearskin coat and in his long wavy brown hair. A long rifle rested against his right shoulder.

Despite the seeds of Manifest Destiny that came across the Atlantic with the first colonists, King George III had issued the Proclamation of 1763, restricting settlement of Great Britain’s thirteen colonies to east of the summit line of the Appalachian Mountains. For nearly two centuries, Colm and his brotherhood had been living west of the Proclamation Line in a valley, now called Burkes Garden, Virginia. After their ship arrived in Roanoke Island in July 1584, the brotherhood of angels wandered for six months before they found this sanctuary.

Jeremiah put his musket aside and said, “Liam and Seamus have been lookin’ for you.”

Colm laid the deer on the blood-stained skinning table in front of Jeremiah’s one room cabin. He enjoyed the hunt, but he had no inclination for dressing out game. “Did they say why?”

“They didn’t say so don’t start worrin’ about ‘em.” Jeremiah slid his skinning knife from the pocket on the thigh of his breeches. He poised the knife over the deer then reconsidered. “Wait a minute. Mkwa brought whiskey, yesterday.”

He went inside the cabin, and returned with an uncorked jug. He swigged the whiskey then handed the jug to Colm. He set about skinning the doe and said, “Did I tell you what the Continental Congress is askin’ us ta do after it met last September in Philadelphia?

“What’s the Continental Congress?” Colm took a swig from the jug.

“Men representin’ the colonies called a meetin’ in response ta the Brits passin’ the Intolerable Acts ta punish Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party. The patriots dumped 340 crates of tea inta Boston harbor ta protest the taxes Britain levied on tea. Anyway, they’re askin’ us ta boycott British goods. War’s comin’, Colm.”

Colm considered Jeremiah with his grizzly beard, disheveled dark-blonde hair, deerskin clothing, and unwashed body. He was as tough as any mountain man, but in Colm’s opinion, Jeremiah had three important divergent qualities: He could read and write, and had an appealing forty-year-old face under the beard. He was the equivalent of the town crier. Without Jeremiah, those who lived in Burkes Garden would have little knowledge of what was happening in the outside world.

“Why do ya say that?”

Jeremiah began to remove the doe’s hooves by slicing the leg off at the knee joint. “The British military’s been occupyin’ Boston all these years. Now, they’ve replaced the Royal Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, with General Thomas Gage. From what I hear, Gage pulled his garrisons from other places like New York, Philadelphia, and Halifax, and formed a British naval presence in Boston. Then, he angered folks by confiscatin’ provincial gun powder from some place in Massachusetts.”

The angels had not participated in the French and Indian War because Colm had not perceived the war as a demonic threat to his brotherhood or the children of man. But what Jeremiah was describing had the potential to become a full-scale war on the thirteen colonies, and a danger to their sanctuary in Burkes Garden.

Colm thought, I wonder if Henry suspects we’re here, and he’s fanning the flames of war to smoke us out of hiding. 

There was a sudden explosion of raucous laughter. Michael Bohannon, Patrick Cullen, and Brandon O’Flynn burst out of the forest and stumbled across the clearing in front of the cabin.

Jeremiah paused and looked up. It was times like these, when the boys were happy and rowdy that he marveled over how much Michael and Patrick looked alike with their medium statures, curly black hair, and feminine facial features.

Michael reached for the whiskey jug.

“Don’t,” Jeremiah warned.

Michael sneered at Jeremiah, snatched the jug, and raised it to his lips.

“I warned you,” Jeremiah growled. He stabbed the tip of his skinning knife into Michael’s up turned elbow then jerked the jug from Michael’s hand.

“Why’d you do that?” Patrick asked Jeremiah. “He ain’t hurtin’ nothin’.”

Michael looked at his elbow. Blood wet the small tear in the elbow of his bearskin coat. He shrugged and let his arm drop to his side.

Brandon stumbled backward then lurched forward. “That’s it, Jeremiah. We’re having a go right now!” He weaved an unsteady circle around Jeremiah with upraised fists.

Jeremiah chuckled and said, “One jab, and you’re gonna fall forward.”

“He’s gonna throw up before that,” Michael snorted with laughter.

Colm crossed his arms over his chest. The boys were drunk, and it wasn’t yet nine o’clock in the morning. He suspected they’d been in the woods most of the night acting like fools and terrorizing the superstitious Shawnee with their drunken noise.

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Lexington and Concord: 7 British Military Blunders

Military campaigns have been marred with blunders since man began the business of organized war. Beyond the strategies, armaments, battles, and aftermath, human error is one of the many fascinating chronicles of a mission. That isn’t to say that courage and determination and grit are not just as fascinating—they are, but for this moment, they are put aside.

There were many British military blunders surrounding the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.  The Royal Governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage planned the mission. He had intelligence that there were rebel armaments in Concord and the mission was to capture the armaments. (He may have learned at the last minute that most of those munitions had been removed from Concord).

thomas gage
General Thomas Gage
  1. General Gage handpicked the companies of light infantrymen and grenadiers from different regiments and placed them under the command of Colonel Francis Smith, with Royal Marine Major John Pitcairn as Smith’s second in command. This had the disadvantage of placing junior officers under the command of superior officers they didn’t know. Likewise, Smith and Pitcairn had no knowledge of their junior officers’ strengths and weaknesses.
  1. General Gage believed he was planning the mission in secrecy
    francissmith
    Colonel Francis Smith

    with only Colonel Francis Smith’s prior knowledge. However, Gage supposedly revealed those orders to General Lord Hugh Percy. Further, Gage’s brother-in-law, Samuel Kemble, was his private secretary, and Kemble may have written Smith’s orders for Gage. There is speculation that Gage’s wife, Margaret, may have learned of the mission and betrayed that information to Joseph Warren, which would have spurred Warren to send Paul Revere and William Dawes to issue the warning that the regulars were out. That is quite another story…

  1. The 800 regulars and 70 officers assembled on the shores of Back Bay to cross the Charles River. The crossing was slow. Longboats had to make two trips to ferry the 800 troops to the Cambridge shore. To make matters worse, they were crossing against the incoming tide.

    7b66cdfe-b58a-45fe-8a62-d6ce593483be
    Map of British Movement
  1. The regulars’ landing point was in the middle of the wetlands of the Cambridge marshes. The men, burdened with the weight of their uniforms and equipment, had to slog through the knee-deep waters of the marshes.
  1. Four hours after their initial departure from Back Bay, Smith’s regulars were marching the road to Lexington. The country folk were raising alarms and some were shooting at the regulars. Smith sent an appeal to General Gage for reinforcements.

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    Lord Hugh Percy

The troops of the First Brigade should have been at the ready to march at a moment’s notice. However, they were asleep and had to be roused.

As the First Brigade prepared to march, Lord Hugh Percy waited for the battalion of Royal Marines to arrive. Two hours later, the marines had not answered the call. The marines were also asleep because the orders for reinforcements had been sent to Major John Pitcairn’s quarters, and at that moment, Major Pitcairn was marching toward Lexington.

  1. As they entered Lexington, Major John Pitcairn’s troops in the vanguard continued along the road to Concord under the watchful eye of Captain John Parker and the Lexington militia. Then, the vanguard, led by the impetuous Lieutenant Jessie Adair, veered the wrong way at the intersection and marched up Bedford Road toward Captain Parker’s forces. Major Pitcairn and several other officers galloped toward the vanguard shouting at them to halt. In the confusion, a shot rang out.

    lexingtonbattle
    The Battle of Lexington
  1. General Gage had ordered Colonel Smith not to plunder or disturb individuals or private property, but Smith’s regulars did just that in Concord and Menotomy (where the heaviest fight of April 19 took place). Those acts served to further anger the colonists.

Sources:

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Bunker Hill A City, A Siege, A Revolution New York: Penguin Books, 2013. Print.

Borneman, Walter R. American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. Print.

Read Angels & Patriots, a historical fantasy novella by Salina B Baker for only 99 cents.