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29th May, night; Patrolling

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29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Blackwood on Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:17 am

In the dark, it was difficult to see more than a few paces ahead. Only the white smudges of crossbelts and trousers stood out. He'd known that would happen. It always did. It was why he had brought his men up behind the thin screen of riflemen, taking advantage of the greenjackets' less distinct uniforms. They had marched in column for no more than a mile before breaking down into more manageable twelve man sections. Blackwood had taken care to spread each section out only six paces apart from each other, attempting to compromise between having his men bunched up and getting too far apart.

They had advanced in this manner for another mile, moving as cautiously as they could. No musket was loaded and everything that could be muffled had been. Shakos had been left behind entirely. Blackwood had no hesitation in choosing practicality over fashion. The men had approved wholeheartedly, in their own way. Now the bareheaded redcoats were creeping up yet another steep hill, keeping low to avoid skylining themselves unnecessarily. There were horse tracks close by, but they weren't fresh. If there had been French cavalry around, they would've been smelled well before now. There were, however, increasingly recent marks that indicated the presence of infantry.

"Spread the men out. Ten paces distance," Blackwood whispered to his sergeant, who only nodded and moved off. It was a calculated risk. Once over this hill, they were likely to be that much closer to enemy picquets, if there were any within a quarter-mile. Which wasn't all that probable, really, all things considered. Blackwood buttoned up his cloak and scurried, half bent over, across the crest of the hill. The only sound was that of his boots scuffing through the thin grass and the light clank of his sword. That was something. The strung-out line of infantry crept along after him.

Time for a visit with the Rifles officers. Keeping one hand on his sword to keep it from rattling, Blackwood trotted easily forward. There was just enough breeze to mask most noises he might make, fortunately. Ahead of him, he heard a warning click and immediately slowed to a creeping walk. The riflemen were alert, he'd give them that.

"Blackwood," he muttered. "Officers?"

"Up front, sir," the rifleman murmured in reply. How helpful. Blackwood moved on, his stride slow now. It was better than nothing, he supposed.
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Allhands on Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:46 am

"Officer." Blackwood's advance did not remain unnoticed. His movement was watched at each step, and the news of it spread like wildfire amongst men. When he passed a few, who had been closest , identified him again, and then turned their attention back to their primary task.

"Redcoat.. officer passin'." Muttered another rifleman, though none seemed inclined to point the man directly to their officer, be it Sharpe or Vickery. "What's he doin' all up front.." Whispered one of the stockier men, his dark flop of hair, tucked behind his ears, sideburns thinning somewhat in the closeness of his ear. "Betrayin' our wher'bouts, that's what." The other rifleman had answered, his words heavily accented, possibly with a trace of German.

"Quiet." Snapped one up ahead of them, harsh but still whispered.
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Sam Mayden on Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:07 am

For perhaps the hundredth time since marching past the vanguard, Sam Mayden caught himself testing the edge of his flint with the side of his thumb. It was habit, he told himself. Just habit. Better than acknowledging that it might be his nerves stretched a tiny bit thin. Being this far ahead of the army and moving toward the enemy, with only a redcoat company to back them up, made him uneasy. The rest of the army was three miles, at least, behind them. It helped that the 60th were with them, but Mayden was less comforted by the presence of the redcoats.

Word passed quietly along. The redcoat officer was making his way up toward the Rifles officers. Perfect. Mayden's half-formed opinion of the man dipped a bit. Even as inexperienced as he was, he knew that the surest way to give up concealment was to send a redcoat along. Bloody daft officer. Didn't he know that?

"Stupid bugger'll get us killed," he muttered in annoyance. At least the rest of them were behind the riflemen.
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Allhands on Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:16 am

".. Better send someone to fetch him an officer." Came a mutter echoing Mayden's words. "Might stop him." The same man said with a silent grunt. He stepped over the mound of pebbles carefully, not making much of a sound. His partner, a seasoned veteran himself, lowered his rifle a bit pushing past a very leafy low branch.

"Lets hope it does..looks like a daft bugger that one. Playin' his idea of a hero I bet." The opinion of the redcoat officer did not seem to lie all that high on their lists of the men of quality. They would have liked it better if the man had remained well behind them. It was bad enough that they did not know when to expect to encounter the French, but to have their own approach as good as sounded with a bloody bugle, didn't really need that, did they?
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Sam Mayden on Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:38 am

"He can take bein' a hero," Mayden grumbled, mostly to himself. It was preferable to do their jobs and get back to the army in one piece. Stupid heroics got lads killed when they didn't need to.

The breeze shifted and Mayden paused. There was a foul smell on the air. Just a hint of it. Almost not enough to be worth noticing. But...

"Horses," he hissed.
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Perkins on Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:16 am

Perkins stopped. He looked up silently, awkwardly. The wind did carry the unpleasant smell of horses, so faint it was barely noticeable for the most part. When the wind took a right turn and strengthened though, so did the smell.

The riflemen tensed , and moved closer to the ground, making little to no sound. The warning did not go unheard. One of the rifleman, the earlier grumbler, muttered quietly: "Somebody get that damn officer down, 'fore the wrong people see him."

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Richard Sharpe on Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:31 am

Sharpe shifted his rifle as Harper loomed out of the dark. He was growing used to the way the big Irishman could do that.

"Seems there's someone wantin' you, sir," he said, with some sort of gesture that Sharpe could only see as a pale blur in the darkness.

Sharpe tried not to sigh; dealing with redcoats was his least favourite pastime, and he really did not like Guards officers, either. "Thanks, Pat," he said, and turned back to try to find this mysterious officers who'd somehow got himself lost among the greenjackets.

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Blackwood on Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:01 am

The mood of the riflemen as Blackwood passed was tense, bordering perhaps on resentful. He didn't expect anything different. There would always be animosity between redcoats and greenjackets. It was as much a fact of life as breathing. At any rate, it was not something that Blackwood cared anything about at the present time. The men could hate each other for all it mattered to him, as long as they did their jobs.

A hulking shadow loomed ahead. No, two. With luck, one of them was the fellow he'd come up to see. Blackwood grinned for a moment. If there was animosity amongst the riflemen, he could guess where it originated from. This would be interesting.

"Lieutenant Sharpe," he muttered, all semblance of levity gone. "A good evening to you. How close is their cavalry?"

He'd noticed that telling stink, though probably not as quickly as the greenjackets would have. Would the French have a rearguard set? Or was it a troop of hussars gathering to make a surprise run at the British front? Either way... the presence of horses, close enough to smell their saddle sores, was not heartening. It didn't matter that they were not anywhere in sight. Horses covered ground distressingly fast.
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Richard Sharpe on Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:13 am

Typical redcoat, practically shouting like that. He turned toward the other man, who was merely a darker patch in the night, with a pale area under the blackness of his hat. Sharpe saluted, though it probably couldn't be seen in the dark.

"Pob'ly not that far off - half a mile at most, sir. With this bit o' breeze, and the way them Frogs treat their horses it could be that, easy."

Was this officer just going to be a typical Guards officer or would he be open to the different way the Rifles worked? Sharpe didn't really care which; he was confident enough in himself and his abilities that he didn't need to prove himself to anyone who didn't wear the green of the Rifles.

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Blackwood on Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:30 am

Half a mile. Blackwood crouched down and thought a moment. Most likely half a mile and slightly ahead, judging by the breeze. It would be easy enough to go around them now, but would it be as easy to get past them on their way back? He ran a hand carefully back through his hair, then shrugged slightly.

"What would you do about them, Lieutenant?" He asked in a low voice.

Blackwood knew how he would proceed, but he knew his men and their tendencies. These riflemen were unknown to him even though nominally he was in command of them for this venture. It'd be no end of use to have some idea how the Rifles officers would adjust their present arrangement, if at all.
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Richard Sharpe on Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:36 am

"Can't do owt till we know how many of 'em there are. An' dependin' on how many there are, sir, and how the land lies, we'll ambush 'em. Horses don't like noises and things in the dark, and we ain't so easy to spot as your lot, beggin' your pardon. It'll be easy enough to spook 'em with even just random firin', and if we bring down some horses, that'll be even better." And if the redcoat officer thought it was a stupid idea, Sharpe really didn't care.

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Blackwood on Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:08 pm

He considered the plan as it was outlined, nodding when the lieutenant finished. It was a sound idea and showed the man knew his business. Also a good sign was his readiness to answer such a query.

"Very well. See to it, Lieutenant. Take as many men as you need," Blackwood said. They certainly had no shortage of available manpower for such a venture. And of course the man was right. Blackwood's company did stand out a little too much even in the dark.
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Sam Mayden on Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:26 am

"Bit late," Mayden muttered. The redcoat had gotten up to where Mister Sharpe was and seemed to be in conversation with him. Bloody daft redcoats. "We'd have done better without that lot, eh, Perkins?"
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Perkins on Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:23 am

Perkins nodded in response to Mayden, gazing silently in the direction of their and the redcoat officer. " Mister Sharpe will set him right..." He said. For a short while he remained quiet, observing the dark gloom ahead of them. "As long as they stay well behind us.. we'll do good without them." He took hold of the proffered rifle, waited for the other rifleman, to set himself to rights, and then returned it.

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Sam Mayden on Wed May 05, 2010 2:39 am

Of course Mister Sharpe would set the bugger right. Mayden grinned. "We'll end up playing nanny for 'em, just you watch. Us and them 60th lads. Never can trust a redcoat."
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Richard Sharpe on Wed May 05, 2010 8:59 am

"All right," Sharpe said, thinking. Ten men... make that fifteen, plus himself. There was no telling how many cavalry there were, after all. Though the more men he took , the more likely they were to give themselves away.

"Hagman, Harris, Cooper, Perkins, Mayden, Gataker, Sims, Slattery, Tongue, Dodd, Jenkins, Cresacre," he said, looking around and thinking who else was reliable enough to risk taking forward. Not Williamson; he was fairly sure that the big raw-boned man would run, given half a chance. Twelve men, plus himself and Harper, should do. "Packs and canteens off," he said, unceremoniously dropping his own pack.

They couldn't risk making too much noise too early, and alerting the French to their presence, after all.

"There's cavalry ahead. We're goin' to go and scare them out of here."

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Perkins on Thu May 06, 2010 7:02 pm

Perkins smiled shyly agreeing with Mayden. Nannies to them cumbersome redcoats. The redcoats might've been there for some reason, but if they only had themselves, maybe the 60th and Sharpe, they'd be alright.

He turned when his name came up. "We're going." He whispered to Mayden and slipped his pack down, more quietly than their officer. He removed the canteen and had it piled with his pack, adjusting his hold on his rifle.

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Sam Mayden on Fri May 07, 2010 1:55 am

So they were. Good. Mayden smirked into the darkness as he shrugged out of his pack. They were going after cavalry. That ought to be interesting.

"Over the hills," Mayden murmured, again checking his rifle's flint.
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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Blackwood on Tue May 11, 2010 10:52 am

Blackwood stayed crouched and silent as the Rifles officer slipped away into the darkness to collect his men. There was resentment rolling off the man in waves, and it wasn't hard to guess the reason for it, but he had no interest in Lieutenant Sharpe's personal grudges. As long as the man followed orders and performed well, there was little reason for Blackwood to be concerned.

He waited another half-minute, then rose partway up and started back toward his company. There were arrangements to be made with his own men, and of course he had to speak briefly with Captain Vickery. Nothing could be left to chance this far from the main column. With an enemy as mobile and unpredictable as cavalry within striking distance, luck was not likely to be with them.

Two sections on the far right of his line ought to be sufficient for an initial support element for Lieutenant Sharpe, should the Rifleman require it. And of course the entire force could be brought up if things became really bad. Blackwood reached his sergeant and gave the necessary orders in a hushed voice. With this one task completed, he got on the move again, taking care to make as little noise as possible. Time to speak with Captain Vickery.

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  John Vickery on Tue May 11, 2010 11:03 am

Vickery had set picquets to cover the right of the line and was returning to post furthest on his left when he became aware of a figure coming towards him. He smiled in the darkness; white breeches really weren't de rigueur for scouting and patrolling in the dark, though it was surprising how well a red coat blended in.

He headed towards the other man; there was only one man he could think of who would be this far ahead of the main body of redcoats, who wasn't a Rifleman.

"Good evening," he said in a low voice when he was close enough.

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Blackwood on Tue May 11, 2010 11:16 am

"Sir," Blackwood muttered, coming to a halt. "There is cavalry ahead and away to the right, judging by the wind. Lieutenant Sharpe has taken some of his men to scout closer to them."

No point in being beating around the bush. He looked around in the dark, not really needing to see the strung-out men to know they were there. "It may be safe to anticipate some action before we retire."

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  John Vickery on Tue May 11, 2010 11:22 am

"Thank you for the warning, sir," Vickery replied. Supper was going to be late tonight, it seemed. "The Frogs never could look after their horses, poor creatures. You can always smell them before you see them." He turned to give Sergeant Fischer his orders, speaking in rapid German, to which the Sergeant merely replied "Ja, mein Herr," saluted and vanished into the night.

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Blackwood on Tue May 11, 2010 11:31 am

Indeed.

"A pity, really. Their cavalry might be the more formidable if they looked to their mounts properly." Never mind that to admit such a thing, as an infantry officer, ran directly toward the ludicrous. Blackwood knew enough, however, to treasure a good horse.

"Either way," he continued, "it would be a shame to pass up a chance to disabuse them of any illusions of security."

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  John Vickery on Tue May 11, 2010 11:40 am

Vickery couldn't help grinning. "It'll be the rifles that'll send them hopping back to France eventually. I doubt they'll learn about proper care of their horses before that, though. This is the nineteenth century and I wonder that they have not adopted the rifle themselves. It is a far superior weapon to the musket, after all, and in the right hands..." He stared off into the darkness. "I think we have nothing to fear where Mister Sharpe is concerned. From what I have seen of him, he is a more than capable officer."

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

Post  Ben Blackwood on Tue May 11, 2010 11:48 am

That was an assessment Blackwood agreed with. He nodded. "Most likely so. All the same. I will not thank him if he claims all the fighting tonight for himself."

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Re: 29th May, night; Patrolling

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