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27 May; Prisoners

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27 May; Prisoners

Post  Keiju on Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:05 am

The six Pioneers, with their three prisoners, proceeded determinedly through the bivouac belonging to the Second Guards, adhering rigidly to Lieutenant Cobb's orders to 'tolerate no interference from anybody'. Their progress was only halted by a red-faced sergeant with a halberd, who barred their path and told them plainly to advance no further until an officer was sent for. Corporal Kerr took this opportunity to request, gruffly, the officer commanding the light company.

So it was that the three provosts came into the custody of a somewhat bewildered Captain Blackwood. Corporal Kerr delivered the note the greenjacket had given him and endured the Guards captain's questioning with relative grace. It seemed straightforward enough to him. At length, he and his fellows were dismissed from their temporary detail, having been replaced by six smaller men from Blackwood's company. Kerr was not certain of the wisdom of using slighter Light Bobs, until he took note of the hard-edged expressions on the men's faces. The Pioneers departed then, making their way back to their own regiment, where Lieutenant Cobb had fetched them from.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:52 am

Captain Vickery had done his best to ensure that Newbury was going to be in safe hands before heading down the column to find Captain Blackwood, feeling a little guilty about dropping the provost prisoners into his lap unexpectedly. There wasn't much else he could have done, however. If he had released them into the custody of their own officer, he was fairly sure that they would have got away scot-free. That was something he couldn't tolerate, not when they had done their best to ensure that Newbury would be unfit for duty for even longer than he was already.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:36 am

Sergeant Burr was blithely accepting of the order to take charge of the three provost prisoners, which was no less than Blackwood expected of him. It was almost impossible to get a rise out of the man. At least he could be sure there would be no funny business with Burr in charge.

His horse was resaddled quickly by Hutton, his sleepy-eyed batman, and Blackwood was shortly on his way toward the baggage train, where the Pioneer corporal had said the provosts had been upon their arrest.

To his surprise, he spotted Captain Vickery himself moving in his direction. Well. That made things considerably easier, didn't it? Blackwood drew rein as the Rifles officer got closer, then nodded in greeting.

"I have some friends of yours in my custody, I believe?"

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:51 am

Vickery reined in as he recognised the approaching officer. "Just the man I wanted to see, Captain," he said, nodding in return.

"They are no friends of mine. They assaulted one of my men - a man already on the sick list - simply because he tried to stick up for a woman friend of his. I am sorry to trouble you with them, but I do not have the resources to hold them myself, and I am unable to both charge them and preside over the court-martial. As you will understand."

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:57 am

This only confirmed the note and what Corporal Kerr had said. Blackwood nodded. "Of course. It will be charges for assault on your Rifleman only? What of the woman friend?"

The Pioneer had been unable to give him any reliable information on this point, which Blackwood wished to be clear on before bringing the matter to Colonel Trevor.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:01 am

Vickery sighed. "Pardon me for being blunt, but she is not attached to my company, or any regiment with the army, and makes her way by selling her favour. In short, they would claim that she was going with them willingly, despite the fact they had her tied up - I had to cut her hands free."

He would dearly love to be able to bring charges of assault for what they had done to her as well, but as she was a self-confessed whore, he did not see how he could make such a charge stick.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:34 am

That gave Blackwood a moment's pause. By the law, any woman not officially on the strength was indeed left to survive as best she could, which usually led to just such an unenviable position. Still...

"It may be possible to prefer charges on her behalf as well," he said thoughtfully. "Dependent upon the actual relationship between her and your Rifleman... I will have to speak with the colonel, but to not attempt a full measure of justice would be disgraceful."

There was little that Blackwood disliked more than men who used their positions and power to misuse those below them, particularly those who could not defend themselves in return. The more he heard of this incident, the more he suspected that just such men were responsible. No reasonable man would have done any of this, certainly.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:51 am

"It would indeed. I am not sure of the exact relationship between her and Rifleman Newbury, but I am led to believe that they have a certain... tendre for each other."

He hadn't liked the thought that he would not be able to get justice for Miss Ross, but certainly her status was doubtful at best. Newbury had done his best to protect Jenny, even though it hadn't been much. Vickery would be most remiss if he didn't help, especially as it was partly his fault that the provosts had been able to put Newbury on the ground. At least they hadn't been able to have their way with Miss Ross, which was of little consolation.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:27 am

"Hm." That was something they could use against the prisoners, if it could be proven as fact. Even if not, Blackwood was determined not to let them evade their due punishment, on any count.

"This is a matter for Colonel Trevor to hear, at any rate. He will no doubt have his own thoughts to offer. Shall we?" Blackwood nudged his horse around to lead the way back toward the regiment's bivouac.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:35 am

"Certainly. And I feel I must apologise again for dragging yourself and the Coldstream into it." He hoped that Colonel Trevor would feel the same way that he and Captain Blackwood did.

He nudged Brandy into a walk, following the Guards officer to where his regiment was bivouacked.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:06 am

Blackwood shook his head slightly. "It is no bother - certainly they cannot be given over to their own officer with any expectation of fair justice."

The colonel's tent stood a little apart from everyone else and was guarded by a matching pair of grenadiers. Hutton appeared, silent as a wraith, to take the horses' reins and Blackwood dismounted.

"With luck, he will be in a pliable mood," he commented in an undertone, before approaching the sentries. One of the grenadiers eyed the Rifles officer speculatively before lifting the tent flap to poke his head in and announce the two visitors. A moment later, he resumed his stiff upright posture and told them flatly that they could enter.

Blackwood led the way in and made the necessary introduction of his companion. Then, after waiting a beat, he said "Captain Vickery has had cause to place three provosts under arrest, on the charges of assault upon one of his Riflemen - and also upon a woman in that Rifleman's company. These three are presently under guard within my own company, pending formal charging."

"Indeed. What is the whole story, as of course you are not telling all of it, Blackwood," the colonel remarked, looking deliberately at Vickery.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:33 am

Justice. Vickery had to see that justice was done, which meant that the men concerned had a fair trial. Which was yet another reason he could not preside over a court-martial.

There was a reason that some Riflemen poked fun at the Guards' rigidity, Vickery thought inconsequentially, glancing at the rigid sentries outside the Colonel's tent. He was almost tempted to push one of them over, to see if he would go down like a ninepin. Such a thought was unworthy of him, and he reminded himself why he was there as Blackwood led the way inside and introduced him.

"I beg pardon for the long story, sir. I originally came back to the baggage train as I had received a report that my possessions had been turned out by certain provosts, ostensibly looking for anything that had been looted from the French. I believe this to have been a petty act of revenge on their behalf against some of my men, sir.

"While looking for those concerned, I found a woman, a camp follower, under arrest for being found in possession of a loaf of bread which she claimed to have earned. She had been tied up and seemed to be being ill-treated. I ordered one of my men, a man on light duties due to wounds sustained in battle, to stay with her to dissuade the provosts from any further abuses while I went in search of their officer.

"On my return, I found both my Rifleman and the woman on the ground, being kicked and otherwise mistreated. One of the provosts was also on the ground, having somehow been stabbed with Rifleman Newbury's sword - his bayonet, sir," he added hastily, remembering that it was only the Rifles that called them 'swords'. "It appeared to me, from the position of the sword relative to those concerned, that the woman had managed to withdraw it from Newbury's scabbard and used it in self-defence, notwithstanding the fact that her wrists were tied. From this circumstance, I inferred that they had been threatening her in some way. I sent for a surgeon, and placed the provosts under arrest pending formal charges, sir."

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:17 am

Both redcoats listened with interest to the tale, each forming his own thoughts on the picture being presented to them. When Vickery was finished, Colonel Trevor cleared his throat.

"What state are your two wounded in?" He asked. "I shall need to hear their testimonies - and those of the accused also. The whole of the incident must be known, as much as possible."

Blackwood sucked at his lower lip a moment, then ventured, "If I may ask, sir. In the interim, what arrangements ought to be made with regard to the accused? They can hardly be returned to their own officers in this instance."

"No, of course not. They shall remain under guard here."

Good, Blackwood thought with silent relief. That had been his greatest fear. "Very well, sir."

Trevor turned his gaze back to Vickery. "What connection does this camp follower have to your company? If she is permitted rations, there is no grounds at all for her being accosted simply for being in the possession of bread. Which, I gather, is what caused all of this."

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:31 am

Vickery considered his words. "I believe you may have been misled, sir," he said finally. "She is not with my Company, although she has formed an attachment with Rifleman Newbury, the man who was set upon. It is a strong attachment although I would hesitate to describe it as exclusive. And I would venture to say that I believe that the bread she had was earned, rather than stolen, sir."

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:38 am

"Ah." The colonel pursed his lips. That changed things somewhat. "Is she not on the strength at all?"

Blackwood's thoughts were racing. How could they get around that uncomfortable lack of official attachment?

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:05 am

"She came out with a man in my Company, sir, but since he was killed she has not settled with any one man, until recently when she and Rifleman Newbury formed an attachment."

It would be so much easier if the arrangement between the two was on an official footing.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:24 am

Something like a frown came and went from Trevor's face. "I see. An informal attachment, I would presume. This will make it difficult to prefer any charges on her behalf. Difficult indeed. Hmm."

"Perhaps, sir," Blackwood ventured, a trifle uncertainly. "That circumstance itself could be beneficial. Would you say, Captain, that Rifleman Newbury has been supporting this woman, with rations, say?"

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:29 am

Vickery considered that. "Yes, I would say so. She has frequently messed with Newbury and the others of his mess."

The Colonel's words gave him hope that the man would help them. He wanted to see justice done for Miss Ross as well as for Newbury, if they could manage it.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:38 am

There was a silence, then Trevor twitched his shoulders in a shrug. "That is hardly official support, but this is far from a matter that concerns muster books. If she makes a habit of messing alongside the man in question, that will do as support for me. Now. As to the issue of the assault itself. Are there witnesses to it, beyond those directly involved?"

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:57 am

"I know another of my Riflemen was witness to at least the end of it, though I am not sure at what point he arrived there, sir."

It would be so much easier with independent witnesses, but bullies never did their bullying where they might be seen, did they?

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:23 am

Trevor nodded again. "He will need to give testimony as well. What state is your injured Rifleman in? Is he fit to speak?"

"The woman as well," Blackwood added, that she might not be overlooked despite being the object of such intent conversation only moments before.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:22 am

"Well, sir, he is pretty determined and will doubtless wish to be there regardless of what the surgeon should think, although I will not have him jeopardise his health further for a whim. I can request the surgeon to be there in attendance if it appears that it is necessary, sir. Apart from his knee, which I am already aware of, I have not been led to think that there is any significant injury apart from some rather severe bruising and a concussion."

He paused, thinking. "Another one of my men certainly saw the provosts kicking the two of them - I came back to find him holding a rifle on the provosts to try to persuade them to stop, although he was willing enough to lower it when I came along. There was also a Lieutenant Cobb of the 27th Foot, who happened upon them moments before my return. It was he who placed them under arrest and his men who escorted them here, sir."

He sighed. "The woman seemed reluctant to be persuaded to give evidence against them, although it is understandable. She does not have the luxury of marching with a regiment, after all, sir, and may fear reprisals from their friends."

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:11 am

Lieutenant Cobb of the Twenty-seventh. Blackwood made a mental note to seek this fellow out and hear his version of events as well.

"If the surgeon gives his permission, your Rifleman may testify before a court-martial," Trevor said. "If he cannot... a written deposition may, perhaps, suffice."

It may, but that was doubtful. He was not all well-versed in the law, but Blackwood knew a verbal testimony was vastly preferable. "What of the three provosts, sir? They will need to be appointed counsel and give their own testimonies." Even if matters did not, somehow, proceed to a trial.

"Indeed... speak with Lieutenant Graham. He shall assist in the prisoners' defence."

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  John Vickery on Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:00 am

Vickery nodded. He would take a dictated statement from Newbury; he couldn't recall whether the Rifleman could write or not, but he probably wouldn't be able to in his current condition even if he was literate. It would probably have to be given under oath, as it would be presented in a court of law. Even just thinking about that made him hope that Newbury would be considered well enough to testify. It would also give the members of the court martial the opportunity of seeing his bruises and therefore of being able to judge for themselves how bad the attack was.

"I will certainly have a word with the surgeon, sir," he said again.

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

Post  Ben Blackwood on Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:14 am

Trevor nodded. "I shall leave arrangements regarding the Riflemen involved - and this camp follower - to you, Captain, as you will know them best. You, Blackwood, will see to this fellow from the Twenty-seventh. I expect this whole business to be carried out properly - so none of your tricks, Blackwood."

"Yes sir," Blackwood said neutrally. None of your tricks indeed. "Shall I send for Lieutenant Graham to see you, sir?"

"Do," was the response. "That'll be all, gentlemen."

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Ben Blackwood
Midshipman

Species : Captain; 1/2nd (Coldstream) Guards
Number of posts : 378
Member since : 2010-02-16

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Re: 27 May; Prisoners

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