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June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Henry Fraser on Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:24 am

The cannons were just in their reloading pause when one of his sergeants facing him pointed to something behind him. He turned his horse around.
There was now plenty of light, but because of all the flashes Fraser had a ruined night vision, and could therefor not indentify the two mounted men, though he could see one had the distinctive shape of a tarleton on his head.
He could not hear what they were saying, mostly because of the wadding he had, like most of his men, put in his ears. But it was clear they were trying to call him so he took the wadding out and rode towards then, greeting them with a hand.

He was just about to speak when the cannons fired again, so he had to shout.
"Gentlemen! What can I do for you?!"
He totally forgot to tell them who he was, as if he supposed they should know the only horse artillerist in the army.
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  James Duff on Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:29 am

The Duff brothers stopped not far from Vickery and Torrington.

"I am pretty sure that's British Artillery. You woke me up so we could watch artillery practice?" grumbled James. Alexander glared at him and moved forwards fully prepared to start being a very nasty Colonel.
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:41 am

"You can stop bloody firing for a start!" Vickery shouted back. "I suppose you think it's clever to put the entire Division on the alert because you couldn't wait to hold your practise? If this is a practise and the French have not broken through our picquet lines."

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Henry Fraser on Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:55 am

Fraser looked, with utter surprise on his face, to the green-coated officer. The cannons stopped. 20 Seconds to go.

"Haven't you been told? I sent a request to General Hill and it was approved!"
His voiced turned angry in the last word. He was not about to let some infantryman tell him what to do and what not to do, especially if he had the the General's permission!

"I am sorry if you haven't been told, but I have the generals permission"...The cannons starting their blessed singing, as artillerymen liked to call it, again, so Fraser shouted the last words: "In written orders!"


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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:02 am

"I was not informed and I have had my men standing-to for the last fifteen minutes. May I see your orders?" Vickery was coldly furious, although he managed to keep the chill from his words as he turned to address his bugler, who had accompanied him in his capacity as a runner. "Go and inform Mister Brady that he may stand the men down."

He turned back to the damned fool of an Artillery officer and held his hand out, clearly expecting to be handed a copy of the man's orders.

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Henry Fraser on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:07 am

With the confidence of a London lawyer who was just about to win a case, Fraser took out a piece of paper.
On it was, in his own writing, a request for permission for the training which had been simply approved by a few words written by Hill.
He smiled as he handed it over. His eyes went to the other officer, in the blue coat of the engineer. Behind them came, again, two mounted men. Fraser felt a bit less sure. He could see the angry expressions even at a distance.
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:13 am

Vickery took the paper, looked at it, frowned at the date, and silently handed it over to Torrington.

"May I ask what today's date is?" he enquired of the Artillery officer, his voice deceptively quiet - or as quiet as it could be and yet still be heard.

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Henry Fraser on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:16 am

"28th of June, '09. A Wednesday... if I am not mistaken".

He saw both men frown at that answer. He quickly calculated the days. Yes, today was the 28th, there was no doubt! Or was there?

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:18 am

Edward sat on his horse, all cold haugtiness. He did not say anything, but instead tried to remember what he had read some days ago. Fortunately his memory usually was quite good - especially when it had to store something written. Horse artillery. There was only one battery with their division at the moment. And the captain in command was ... Frazer ... Fraser.

On Vickery's question, he answered with great precision:
"The 28th of June 1809 - Which is not what is written here, Captain Fraser."


Last edited by Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:22 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:24 am

"So could you tell me why you have been firing when this clearly is for the 29th, which is tomorrow?" Vickery asked, indicating that Torrington should give the paper back to the Artillery officer so that he could check it for himself.

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King George commands, and we obey
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An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:26 am

Wordlessly, Torrington handed the paper back.

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  James Duff on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:27 am

Alexander Duff was close enough to hear the exchange between the three Captains. He was getting an inkling of what had happened and he felt very very close to exploding with rage.

James came to stand near his brother and laid a calming hand on his arm.
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Henry Fraser on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:34 am

Fraser snatched back the paper in horror.
His eyes went over the letters again.
'To exercise...29th of June...'

Fraser almost fainted. The next few hours would be fully spend apologizing and explaining to senior officers, and after that, he imagined being the laughing stock of the entire army for months.

"Oh Christ, oh Christ, oh Christ oh..." The cannons started again. Fraser quickly turned his horse and shouted as loudly as he could

"Cease fire! Cease fire Goddamned! Stop it! STOP it!"

He was heard by one of his lieutenants who repeated the order, and then there was a silence, a silence Fraser feared would never end.

"I...I....I...". Fraser had no idea what to do. He couldn't continue his exercise again without infuriating more people, but if he stopped the exercise in the middle he would lose face in his battery, and as a relatively newly promoted Captain he needed that respect. He tried to remember the writing of the request and supposed he had been half drunk, like he was most of his off-duty time. He damned himself.

"Ehm...I'm Captain Henry Fraser, Royal Horse artillery...". He waited for the rage that would surely follow, probably from multiple men..
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:41 am

"Captain Torrington, Royal Engineers. This was certainly a rather unforgettable introduction, Captain Fraser."

Edward's words were perfectly cool. There was no inflection of anger or even sarcasm in them. Only his eyes gave his anger away.

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:46 am

"Captain Vickery, 60th Rifles." Vickery touched two fingers to the peak of his shako, taking refuge, for the moment, in the niceties of politeness.

"May I suggest that you return to your men and explain that their exercise has been cut short due to... unforeseen circumstances. You may have to draw any rounds which are loaded."

A Company commander himself, Vickery knew that it was important that Fraser not be seen by his men to lose face, and yet this could not continue. There were doubtless going to be some extremely angry senior officers buzzing around soon... in fact, he thought he could see two of them approaching at this very moment.


Last edited by John Vickery on Mon May 05, 2014 8:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

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An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Henry Fraser on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:57 am

60th Rifles. Vickery... Fraser did not recall the name but the Riflemen looked like he shouldn't be forgotten.
Only a few stumbeling words came out of Fraser's mouth.

"Yes...yes..." He saw the two other men advancing quickly and Henry thought it was better to act like he's busy then explain this situation himself to some angry high ranked officers.
He rode towards his men, sitting besides their guns. They all expected to continue the training, and so they were surprised when the limbering up was ordered. The sergeant of the 9-pounder, which had already been loaded for it was the most to the left asked if they could empty the gun with a last shot.

"No!" Fraser answered, the men alarmed by his angry tone.
The voice went to a forced calm tone. "I don't care how you do it, but do not fire it! Let the powder run out, use water, but do not fire another cannon!"
He did not gave an explanation for he felt too ashamed. He was not aware his men were actually not accusing him of anything, but rather thought the mounted infantrymen to have stopped the training because of the sound.
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:09 am

Edward raised an eyebrow. He was not used to being just left standing.

"Does that mean we will have the same pleasure tomorrow again, or was one such exercise enough?", he wondered idly.

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:13 am

"I hope that there will not be a repeat without some warning, at the very least. I am in no hurry to repeat the experience of this morning," Vickery replied. "I shall, however, warn the men in case he decides to continue his exercise tomorrow."

He sighed. "I should like to have heard more than the first note of Reveille, though. To hear guns firing at such an hour of the day is uncivilised madness."

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King George commands, and we obey
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An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
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John Vickery
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:23 am

"I wonder what the French make of that ... I know that musket shots at dawn are nothing uncommon, but artillery?"

Edward still followed Fraser with his eyes.

"Frankly, I'm not quite sure what to make of it myself. I'm reasonably certain that General Hill didn't mean to give half the army a heart attack - I wonder whether he knew at what hour this exercise was supposed to be."

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:00 am

Vickery gave a shrug, and patted Brandy's neck as the horse shifted under him before beginning to crop at the sparse grass.

"I don't believe the note said. I should think that he would have expected it to be at a more civilised hour, however." He looked across at Fraser. "Now, do you think it was mere incompetence, or something else that meant he thought his orders were for today?"

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King George commands, and we obey
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An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
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John Vickery
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:42 am

Edward slowly adjusted the fingers of his right glove.

"He seemed rather ... fractious at first, and then more surly than anything, in my opinion, but not malicious. But I would certainly feel more at ease if I could ascertain that it was only a momentary lapse, and not a symptom of a more general incompetence."

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:54 am

"I must admit that I concur," Vickery replied. "He must be a very new Captain, I think?"

He glanced down at his sash, and sighed. He would definitely have to get Cotton to help him retie it; right now, he felt somewhat scruffy next to Torrington, who seemed to be as immaculately dressed as ever.

"Let us at least hope that he does not repeat today's exercise. Or well, that he does not repeat it so early in the morning next time - and that we have plenty of warning about it first."

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King George commands, and we obey
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An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
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John Vickery
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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:09 am

"Perhaps we should call it a surprise drill. I guess you will have to say something, and ... It would not shed a good light on our artillery if the truth were known. I hope, though, that it will be the last one for a considerable time to come."

He closed his eyes briefly, recalling the promotion announcements of the Board of Ordnance.

"I think I read about his promotion just after I arrived here."

Trueno, bolder now that the cannons had fallen silent again, tossed his head impatiently.

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:16 am

"Turn it to our advantage, eh? And not let on that it was as much a surprise to me as to the rest of my men? Although I think Cotton at least will twig that I knew nothing of it - or I would probably have been up beforehand."

"So he is junior to the both of us, then." Something else occurred to him then. "If you do not consider it impertinent of me to enquire, when does your own Captaincy date from? You have been deferring to me almost since you arrived, and I am the newest Captain in the 60th, as you must be aware - if you read the Gazette, anyway."

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King George commands, and we obey
Over the hills and far away ~ Traditional

An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
avatar
John Vickery
Captain

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Re: June 28th, early dawn before reveille: A booming morning

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:05 am

He did, but he had not paid too much attention to the army promotions then, as he knew only very few people there. He had studied the Artillery section more closely, of course, in hope to see a name he remembered from his training. So he shook his head.

"You must forgive me, but I fear I have not paid the proper attention to it. I had assumed you had been a Captain for longer."

He suddenly chuckled.

"Oh my ... It seems I am the senior Captain here, then. My promotion dates back to August 1808 - the same day as the battle of Roliça, actually."

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