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Riding with the Column

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Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:36 am

Grizelda would be travelling on the wagon, as much as she could, but Philippa hated that. While she was with the Army - in particular with the 5th of Foot - she needed neither chaperon nor protector. She much preferred to keep pace with them, than to be left to travel with the bags and camp-followers, or even - horror of horrors - to sit in a coach with Mrs Crompton, jouncing over the ruts, and listening to her complain about every bump.

It was still very early, but the 5th would be the second infantry regiment to leave - after the 62nd, which was out of its proper place in the line, but before the 27th and the 33rd. All of them would be preceded by the rifle companies of the 2nd Division, and the cavalry screen. Philippa handed over the last of their bags to her father's orderly servant, to take to the wagons, and took the reins of Vimiero. It was still dark in the plaza where the 5th of Foot was mustering, made to seem darker by the flickering torches and dim lights showing from houses where the soldiers had stayed and, in many cases made friends. By the time they were on the road, it would be light. Now, though, it was chill, and Philippa wrapped her gosling green cloak around her, waiting for the regiment to start off.

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:24 pm

Once the regiment was outside the city, away from the tall buildings and the flambeaux, Philippa settled down to a long ride. Eventually the neat blocks of companies flanked by officers would relax, the men would march at ease, and the officers would slow down to talk to their friends - or to her. Lieutenant Howard would almost certainly ride with her, for as long as possible.

"A fine morning, daughter Philippa," a soft voice said, and she stopped wondering about the manning of the division's flank guard, and turned a smile on the man who had ridden up alongside.

"A fine morning, Father Dominic," she responded. Father Dominic O'Dwyer had been with the 5th of Foot for several years, ministering to the religious needs of the Catholics in the battalion, and sometimes even in a pastoral sense to the non-Catholics, who welcomed his kindness, and the fact that he neither preached nor reproached them, whatever the state of their faith. He had been trained in Salamanca, spoke excellent Spanish, and was looking forward to liberating a country that was a second home to him from the tyrant Bonaparte.

"And a beautiful one," the priest said, looking east to where the hills stood black against a pale blue and gold sky. "It does my heart good to see it. And to see you, my daughter. I was in the University Plaza yesterday, while the soldiers were all otherwise occupied - visiting Father Moro, who was my mentor in Salamanca - and is now at the University here. You did not see me?"

Philippa blushed within the shelter of her hood. "No, father. We were only watching the review..."

He brought his mule along side her Vimeiro. "I am sure of it." He glanced back. "A devout and learned city, and it is a sorrow to leave it, for all the men saw another side. I shall have my work cut out, I am sure."

"Not from our men," said Philippa primly, recovering her poise.

He did not comment, but thought of the other men - mainly, but not exclusively, his own countrymen, who would want to attend Mass, to make their confessions, to a priest who spoke their own language, and who was used to soldiers. He would be busy in the days before they reached Oporto, and he was glad for the spiritual refreshment he had found in Coimbra.

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:13 am

v Lossow felt as if his eardrums would burst any minute now. The screeching of the ungreased axles, turning with the wheels, sounded like the screams of lost souls in eternal torment. The catholics even had more than one kind of hell, hadn't they, he thought.
It had taken almost two hours to get the train moving in any kind of order, first by shouting, then prodding and finally by his cavalrymen thrashing away with goads. Strangely, the Portugese had been willing enough, if slow, it had been the officer's servants and wifes with their mules and carriages that drove him to distraction.

But now everyone was plodding along to his satisfaction and he decided to speed up and work his way to the front of the column. He was curious if there were any people on the march he knew from previous campains. And there were always new aquaintances to make.

[Ok, if there is anyone in the column who wants to talk to Lossow drop me a pm]

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:39 am

Wellesley himself had decided to move up to the front of the column in and effort to spur on the first hours of the advance, and was not trotting Hercules further up alongside scores of infantry, their uniforms already starting to stain from the dust of the dry roads. He greeted those officers he knew vaguely or intimately as her rode along, and after a while through the paling light saw that he was approaching a figure that was familiar to him from only the day before. He smiled to himself, and spurred the stallion on the catch up with the officer.

"Good morning to you, von Lossow," he said, drawing level with the Rittmeister.

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:26 am

Archimedes was not an elegant horse, but big and muscular, looking more like a well cared for farm animal, used for pulling ploughs or heavy carts rather than a Colonel's mount. Prestwich did not mind. Archimedes had thick strong legs, and though he was not exactly a quick animal, he was steady and did not mind if he walked on the road or waded through mud. Prestwich patted the horse's neck, ruffling its shaggy mane, that was with such effort made to look presentable at the review. Archimedes walked on past the soldiers, slowly but surely carrying his master closer to the column's front, until he caught up with Hunter.The young man looked somewhere between gloomy and thunderous.

'Captain, I have not thanked you for taking care of Archie this morning.'
'Archie, sir?' Hunter raised a puzzled eyebrow.
'Yes, Archimedes,'Prestwich nodded at the horse
'Ah. You are welcome, sir.'
They fell silent for a few moments.
'I am a little sorry to be leaving Coimbra. I haven't been able to finish that book on Portuguese fortresses that the librarian lent me. Not that the book had much to offer in terms of engineering facts, but what a wealth of history...' Prestwich let the phrase trail off, feeling a little self-conscious. He was sure that the ADC, however strange he was, would not go telling others of the Colonel's nightly escapades, and yet...

'Well, it stands to reason that you'll be interested in fortresses, sir.'
Prestwich studied Hunter briefly, but the man seemed to be in earnest.
'Yes. Maybe one day I shall see Karak Castle, a most formidable fit of engineering.'
'Karak Castle? The Crusader one, sir?'
Prestwich looked at Hunter with some surprise.
'Yes. I have not expected you to know of it.'
Hunter grimaced.
'I don't exactly know much, sir. I have forgotten most of it since leaving Oxford.'
But this did not deter Prestwich from continuing this line of conversation and presently, Hunter became a little more animated.

[OOC: I was under the impression that this is the general march thread, but if not please tell me, so I can find a more appropriate place for this post. ]

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:36 pm

[my characters are going to use it as general marching thread, as well...]

"Good morning to you, von Lossow," he said, drawing level with the Rittmeister.

v Lossow recognised the vice and broke into a bright smile as he turned in the saddle to face the speaker.

"And Good morning to you. I am glad the weather holds like this. While it does get too hot around noon, at least we have roads and not mudslides. But one of the portugese mule drivers has been predicting rain... for the last three days, I'm told."

He made a show of looking to the left and right of the general. With a wink he said: "Your horse must be too fast for your staff, sir."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:40 pm

Wellesley sent a glance back down the column.

"If you mean I have escaped my keepers, then you are almost correct; I told them where I was going and that I was insistant of going unaccompanied, but doubtless one will come after me sooner or later."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:46 pm

Lossow grinned wider. "I suppose it would be rather embarrassing if one of them had to report to London that they misplaced their general. And who knows who London would send as replacement..." he shuddered theatrically.

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:50 pm

"I try not to think about that," Wellesley said, a wry smile upon his lips. "It only tends to depress me."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:30 am

"I agree. If they send anyone at all. Last I heared, the belief that Portugal can't be defended was on the upswing again in London. That unfortunate missive by Moore... Anyway, the people here are quite glad to have you, you know. And the soldiers as well. And the officers who have served under you before..."
He shifted uncomfortably in the saddle.

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:37 am

"They're about the only people who seem to be," Wellesley said, brushing off a fly that had just landed on Hercules' neck. "But for the moment they are enough. The Portuguese are a valuable, our oldest allies. I have promised to rid them of Bonaparte, and I will. And Moore, though a decent fellow and we shared many ideas, did not share all my ideas; my are ideas are the difference between making Portugal defensible and giving up the fight."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:47 am

- I am not holding you up, am I, Captain?
- No, sir. The General wished to be alone.
Prestwich passed his thrust his reins into Hunter's witing hand, leaning a little to the side.
- And you did not exactly protest, did you? - Hunter did not answer, but then Prestwich did not expect him to.
Hunter held the reins of both their horses, while Prestwich fumbled in the saddlebag.
- Ah, here it is! - exclaimed the Colonel brandishing a thin book. Pencil held firmly in his teeth, Prestwich folded a sheet of paper, pressing it against the book. Then he started sketching quickly, the lines not as precise as he'd like, but one had to make do while riding.

The sketch complete he showed it to Hunter.
- You must have a very good memory, sir, to be able to draw this.
- Ah, believe me, Hunter, Lieutenant Havers is bound to find numerous mistakes in it. I showed him a plan of the castle once, and what he's seen once, he never forgets. But come now, don't change the subject, lets see what you remember about it, or to be more precise, it's construction.

Hunter took the book and the sketch from the Colonel, who snatched up his reins, while Firebird's now rested on the saddle's pommel.
- I'd never thought I'd be getting examined again, - muttered George grumpily.
Prestwich laughed and added jokingly.
- What is life but a continious examination?
Hunter started adding much less elegant details to the sketch, explaining, as if to himself, what he was doing.
- And here at the north wall they had halls built in the European fashion of the time...

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:52 am

"I am, of course, in favour of defending Portugal. I have a bill to settle with the French..." For a moment the hard core under v Lossows humerous exteriour was visible.

But he quickly changed the topic. "Now, that's a handsome fellow you are riding there, if I may say so, sir. Good legs!"

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:11 am

Wellesley looked down either side of Hercules' saddle.

"Thank you, but I am afraid you are one of his few admirers. Edrington loathes the sight of him since one of his sergeants fell prey to his bite."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:16 am

"Oh yes, horsebites turn nasty if they are not treated properly. The man should have gone to see a surgeon. Or a farrier, sometimes I think they know better than the learned gentlemen... "

He patted his horses neck fondly.

"This lady here ripped a man's arm right off in the Copenhagen campain! He tried to clobber her in the mouth, but she was having none of that!"

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:20 am

"I think it happens to be in her favour that the man she decimated happened to be on the other side."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:35 am

"True, true. I'm rather proud of her."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:43 am

Wellesley grimaced.

"Whilst I have but to be ashamed of my steed, who cannot seem to behave himself without I give him my constant attention."

Hercules snorted, as if taking offence at such a statement, but the General tutted and glared at the back of the horse's head.

"I didn't ask you..."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:48 am

v Lossow broke into a cheerful grin. "That's what my father always said about me."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:54 am

"That you needed constant supervision, or that he never asked your opinion?"

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:57 am

Lossow supressed a snort: "I think the former was directly related to the latter..."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:04 am

"As it often is," Wellesley agreed, remembering all too well his own childhood under the guardianship of first his father, mother and then Richard - none of whom were ever particularly concerned about his opinion. It was his suspicion that it had not even occured to them that he had opinions of his own. "But no, perhaps I malign him too much. Hercules has only ever been good with me, if somewhat saucy now and again."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:41 am

v Lossow shrugged. "Just don't allow him to pick up bad habits, it's devilish hard to train them out again. He is still young, isn't he?"

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:49 am

"He is three," Wellesley said, patting him affectionately on his dark neck. "And what bad habits he has do not overly concern me. It is his way. But every horse has its own character, like every man is his own character."

He smiled.

"Yet I do not know what view the cavalry holds on horses - whether personality is to be indulged or quashed."

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Re: Riding with the Column

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:15 am

v Lossow thought seriously about the question before replying:

"I suppose that depends on whom you ask. There are various systems of training cavalry horses. I think it should be neither indulging nor squashing, each of them is a bit different, has different strenghs or weaknesses.

Personally I believe that if you teach a horse to perform his duty, you
should show him some kindness whenever he does as you wish, and on the other hand, when he is disobedient you have to chastise him. Every one agrees how useless a servant is, or a body of troops, that does not obey.
A disobedient horse is not only useless, but may easily play the part of an arrant traitor when you need it most."

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